First off, it takes a few years to assess a draft and it’s way too early to draw any definite conclusions on how Reggie McKenzie has fared in terms of procuring rookie talent.
Considering the Raiders have more than $40 million tied up in dead money under the salary cap, you’d think it would be a haven for young talent to get the chance to start and flourish.
When the Raiders host the Chicago Bears tonight at 7 p.m. at O.co Coliseum, there will in all probability be three starters from McKenzie drafts _ cornerback D.J. Hayden, defensive tackle Christo Bilukidi and strong side linebacker Sio Moore. A pair of undrafted free agents who made the roster in 2012, wide receiver Rod Streater and left guard Lucas Nix, will be starters on the offense.
When the season begins on Sept. 8, the plan is for Pat Sims to step in as a starting tackle in place of Bilukidi, and there’s a chance Tracy Porter will return from a groin injury in time to give Hayden more time to develop after a late start. That would leave one McKenzie/Allen starter on defense, along with Streater and presumably Nix on offense.
A thumbnail sketch of McKenzie’s draft picks:
1/12 CB D.J. Hayden, Houston: We’ll get to learn a lot tonight against Chicago and there is no way to know how he’ll respond to contact. Considering where he was picked, he should be starting before it gets too deep into the season.
2/42 OT Menelik Watson, Florida State: Got an even later start than Hayden, and although he has only 19 games of college football experience, Watson will be thrown off the high dive and be forced to swim very soon. The Raiders are that thin up front.
3/66 LB Sio Moore, Connecticut: The coaching staff fell in love with Moore at the Senior Bowl. Penciled in as a starter the moment he was drafted. Now he has to live up to it.
4/112 QB Tyler Wilson, Arkansas: Looked like he could be best pure passer on the team during offseason work. Getting almost no work behind third-team undrafted free agent Matt McGloin. Will McKenzie cut his own fourth-round draft pick?
6/172 TE Nick Kasa, Colorado: Converted defensive lineman fell behind after missing offseason with a hamstring strain. Has size and skill set of an every-down tight end. Trying to sneak Kasa to the practice squad would be a gamble.
6/181 RB Latavius Murray, Central Florida: Currently out indefinitely after arthroscopic ankle surgery, Murray is an intriguing specimen but his propensity for injury in college has so far followed him in to the NFL.
6/184 TE Mychal Rivera, Tennessee: Looks as if he can be useful immediately as a pass receiving tight end, although perhaps not enough girth to play every down along the line. Has natural feel for passing game and getting open, with good hands.
6/205 DT Stacy McGee, Oklahoma: Watch McGee during blocking drills and it’s apparent why he was worth a gamble even though he had some personal conduct issues in college. Strong and explosive, although not ready to be in rotation as of yet.
7/209 WR Brice Butler, San Diego State: Big, fast and making a run at getting playing time as a rookie. One of the nice surprises of training camp.
7/233 DE David Bass, Missouri Western State: Had a big moment against New Orleans with sack of Seneca Wallace that resulted in a touchdown for undrafted free agent Ryan Robinson. Concerns are that he simply looks small and occasionally gets buried by tackles that outweigh him by 50 pounds
3/95 G-T Tony Bergstrom, Utah: Competed with Nix at left guard, with Nix apparently getting the edge. Bergstrom, drafted when Raiders were a zone blocking team, could have a role as a swing player at guard and tackle.
4/129 LB Miles Burris, San Diego State: Had solid rookie season as a 15-game starter at strong side linebacker, but still hasn’t recovered from off-season knee surgery. Moore took his spot, and Burris, if he gets healthy will back up Nick Roach in the middle. Could open season on Physically Unable to Perform list and be out for nearly half the season, if he makes roster.
5/158 DL Jack Crawford, Penn State: Given his performance against New Orleans, an example why you need patience in assessing a draft. Made more of an impression in one series than he did all of last season as a raw athlete learning his craft.
5/168 WR Juron Criner, Arizona: Struggled to learn offensive system as a rookie, and then the Raiders put in an entirely new one for Year 2. Now is injured. Hard to give up on because the type of jump-and-catch receiver who can score in the red zone and that’s a trait the Raiders desperately need.
6/189 DT Christo Bilukidi, Georgia State: Looks as if Bilukidi will be in an interior rotation along with Vance Walker and Pat Sims.
7/230 LB Nathan Stupar, Penn State: Didn’t make 53-man roster out of training camp, later cut from practice squad.