By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Thursday, December 19th, 2013 at 5:39 pm in Oakland Raiders.
Filed for print . . .
The Raiders 2013 draft class has been short on instant gratification, but coach Dennis Allen believes it will serve as a foundation for future success.
Of the 10 players selected by general manager Reggie McKenzie last April 25-27, only strong side linebacker Sio Moore is a sure starter, with tight end Mychal Rivera and defensive tackle Stacy McGee potential starters and significant contributors.
With the Raiders taking a 4-10 record to Qualcomm Stadium Sunday against the San Diego Chargers and a dearth of talent because of well-documented salary cap issues, going 3-for-10 in terms of contributors in Week 16 is less than inspiring.
Allen, oblivious unconfirmed reports regarding his job security past this season, chooses to take the longer view.
“Rookies generally don’t make a huge impact in their first year,’’ Allen said. “But there’s a lot of things that we see in these guys that we can develop where they can be the backbone of our team moving forward.
Ideally, a team coming off a 4-12 record would get significant playing time from their first- and second-round draft picks.
Instead, cornerback DJ Hayden (No. 12 overall) and tackle Menelik Watson (second round, No. 42) had their seasons derailed by injury.
Hayden is on injured reserve following sports hernia surgery, and instead of starting played as a nickel back because of an off-season procedure to remove scar tissue related to his near-fatal rupture of a blood vessel leading to his heart in his senior year at Houston.
He played in just 12 games with one interception. With veteran corners Tracy Porter and Mike Jenkins on one-year contracts, Hayden will be counted upon to build his strength, retain his speed and be a starter in Year 2.
“Reality is reality . . . it’s my start,’’ Hayden said. “It’s just a little stepping stone for me. I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me, and I can’t wait.’’
Watson, a 6-foot-5, 310 pound athletic specimen from Florida State, was looked at as a bookend right tackle to go with left tackle Jared Veldheer, with Khalif Barnes moving inside to tackle.
Instead, Watson lost nearly all of training camp with a calf injury, then had arthroscopic knee surgery. He recovered, only to hurt his calf again. Veteran Tony Pashos was signed to play right tackle as the regular season began, and Watson simply missed too much practice time to become a factor.
Of late, Watson has found his way to the field as an extra blocker on power formations. He plans on changing his training and dietary habits in the offseason in hopes of remaining healthy next season.
Moore, the third round pick out of Connecticut, is the Raiders eighth-leading tackler with 46 stops and has 3.5 sacks in 12 games with 10 starts and McGee (sixth-round) has shown promise as a run-stopping defensive tackle, having played in 12 games with four starts.
The top offensive contributor among the rookies has been Rivera a tight end out of Tennessee and one of four sixth-round picks. He has 34 receptions for 341 yards and four touchdowns.
“I’ve always set high goals for myself, and I know I can catch the ball and get open against the best of ‘em,’’ Rivera said. “I’m looking to get better every day. Looking at my numbers, they’re solid, but I feel I could have doubled everything I have right now.’’
Wide receiver Brice Butler of San Diego State, the first of two seventh-round picks, was a contributor early in the season, catching nine passes for 103 yards, but has played sparingly since the ascension of third-year player Andre Holmes.
Fifth-round draft pick Latavius Murray out of Central Florida went on injured reserve with a foot injury and will give it another go this offseason.
The Raiders most notable mistake was Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson, who was beaten out by undrafted free agent Matt McGloin and was claimed off the practice squad this week by the Tennessee Titans. A fourth-round pick, No. 112, Wilson was the highest drafted player to not make his team’s 53-man roster to start the season.
The Raiders final pick, defensive end David Bass of Missouri Western, did not make the team out of training camp. He was claimed by the Chicago Bears, where he has been a reserve defensive end with one sack and 10 hurries.