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Raiders cap draft with versatile OL Vadal Alexander

The Raiders took OL Vadal Alexander in the seventh round of the NFL Draft. (LSU Athletics photo)

The Raiders took OL Vadal Alexander in the seventh round of the NFL Draft. (LSU Athletics photo)

The Raiders wrapped Day 3 of the NFL draft by selecting offensive lineman Vadal Alexander of Louisiana State in the seventh round.

The 6-foot-6, 329-pound Alexander was the 234th overall pick and a player who came into the week projected as high as a second- or third-round pick.

“I’m surprised I lasted this long,” Alexander said. “It’s something I wasn’t expecting, but God has a plan. I’m a firm believer in my Lord and savior Jesus Christ. Everything happens for a reason in my mind, but I absolutely am surprised that I lasted this long.” Continue Reading

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873

UPDATED: Raiders draft Colorado State linebacker Cory James in sixth round

The Raiders took linebacker Cory James in the sixth round. (The Denver Post/ Andy Cross)

The Raiders took linebacker Cory James in the sixth round. (The Denver Post/ Andy Cross)

The Raiders grabbed a linebacker in the sixth round, taking Colorado State’s Cory James with the No. 194 pick.

James spent part of his senior season as a middle linebacker, but it was his role as a pass-rushing outside linebacker that he had more success with 22 sacks in his first three seasons. James had two sacks, 10 tackles for loss and 65 tackles last season while playing in the middle.

“I feel like that versatility really helped, even with special teams,” James said on a media conference call. “I have pretty decent speed, so I feel like on special teams I could help the Raiders out.” Continue Reading

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1,177

UPDATED: Raiders grab running back DeAndre Washington in fifth round

The Raiders hope to have found their backup running back in Texas Tech's DeAndre Washington. (Texas Tech athletics photo)

The Raiders hope to have found their backup running back in Texas Tech’s DeAndre Washington. (Texas Tech athletics photo)

The Raiders addressed their need for a reserve running back by taking Texas Tech’s DeAndre Washington in the fifth round Saturday.

The 5-foot-8, 204-pound Washington rushed for 1,492 yards and 14 touchdowns for the Red Raiders, plus caught 41 passes for 385 yards in Tech’s pass happy offense.

“We actually ran the ball quite a bunch,” Washington said on a media conference call. “Playmakers make plays at the end of the day. I’m excited to be a part of this Oakland offense and look forward to doing big things.” Continue Reading

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558

Raiders’ fourth-round pick Connor Cook demonstrates McKenzie’s commitment to future over present

The Raiders (Matthew Mitchell/MSU Athletic Communications)

The Raiders took a look at building for the future by drafting quarterback Connor Cook. (Matthew Mitchell/MSU Athletic Communications)

ALAMEDA —  Were the Raiders’ first draft pick on Day 3 to ever step on the field this season, it would signify the end of their playoff hopes and aspirations.

If more evidence was needed to show that general manager Reggie McKenzie views the draft as a mechanism for building toward the future as much as fortifying the present, it arrived quickly Saturday with the selection of Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook.

In fact, McKenzie did something he has never done in his previous four drafts _ he traded up and lost a draft pick to get someone. In exchange for going up to No. 100 to select a player who will probably be the third quarterback. Continue Reading

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568

UPDATED: Raiders trade up to take QB Connor Cook

The Raiders moved up in the draft to take quarterback Connor Cook (Michigan State athletics)

The Raiders moved up in the draft to take quarterback Connor Cook (Michigan State athletics)

The Raiders made a surprising move Saturday, moving up in the draft to take Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook with the second pick of the fourth round.

Oakland is well set at quarterback with starter Derek Carr, but Cook provides them a potential backup of value after Cook dropped into the third day of the draft.

The Raiders swapped their fourth round pick (No. 114) and one of their fifth rounders (No. 154) with Cleveland to move up to the No. 100 overall pick. That moved them one spot ahead of the Dallas Cowboys, who were believed to be interested in Cook.  Continue Reading

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1,050

What they’re saying: Mixed reviews for Raiders on Day 2

The national media had a higher opinion of the Raiders' third-round draft pick Shilique Calhoun than second-rounder Jihad Ward.

The national media had a higher opinion of the Raiders’ third-round draft pick Shilique Calhoun than second-rounder Jihad Ward.

The Raiders took a pair of front seven defenders on Day 2 of the draft, picking up Illinois defensive end Jihad Ward in the second round and linebacker/defensive end Shilique Calhoun in the third.

The reviews were decent, but it was third-rounder Shilique Calhoun that earned the higher marks over second-rounder Jihad Ward.

Sports Illustrated’s Chris Burke graded the Calhoun pick as an A, writing that he “actually might be better than their second-rounder. Calhoun, without question, is at least as ready as Jihad Ward to produce as a rookie. He is a value here, and he can be a three-down defender. Another chip for the Raiders’ emerging front seven.​” Continue Reading

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270

NFL Draft: Raiders bolster defensive line on Day 2

Jihad Ward and Shilique Calhoun give the Raiders two additions to their defensive line rotation.

Jihad Ward and Shilique Calhoun give the Raiders two additions to their defensive line rotation.

ALAMEDA — The Raiders zeroed in on adding depth on the defensive line in Friday’s second and third rounds of the NFL Draft.

Oakland first picked up raw Illinois defensive lineman Jihad Ward from Illinois with the No. 44 pick, then grabbed Michigan State linebacker/defensive end Shilique Calhoun with the 75th pick.

“We feel good about fortifying the front,” Raiders coach Jack Del Rio said. “That’s what we were able to do today and add strength and depth and competition to the front.”

Ward is relatively new to his position, having not focused full-time on the defensive line until his sophomore year at a junior college. The 6-foot-6, 295-pounder was a wide receiver and defensive back in high school and a tight end initially in junior college. He played defensive end at Illinois, but Del Rio expects him to play more on the interior. Continue Reading

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329

Raiders: Getting to know Shilique Calhoun

Shilique Calhoun is a versatile linebacker/defensive end taken by the Raiders in the third round. (Matthew Mitchell/MSU Athletic Communications)

Shilique Calhoun is a versatile linebacker/defensive end taken by the Raiders in the third round. (Matthew Mitchell/MSU Athletic Communications)

The Raiders selected Shilique Calhoun with the No. 75 overall pick of Friday’s NFL Draft. Here’s what you need to know about him.

College: Michigan State

Position: Linebacker/defensive end

Ht/Wt: 6-foot-5/250 pounds

College highlights: Three-time second-team All-American, 2015 Hendricks Award finalist (defensive end of the year), two-time team captain and 2013 Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year. Continue Reading

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675

Raiders take pass rusher Shilique Calhoun in third round

The Raiders took linebacker/defensive end Shilique Calhoun in the third round Friday. (Matthew Mitchell/MSU Athletic Communications)

The Raiders took linebacker/defensive end Shilique Calhoun in the third round Friday. (Matthew Mitchell/MSU Athletic Communications)

The Raiders grabbed a productive and athletic pass rusher in the third round Friday, selecting linebacker/defensive end Shilique Calhoun from Michigan State.

Calhoun was a three-time second-team All-American selection and had 26.5 sacks over the final three years with the Spartans, including 10.5 as a senior.

The 6-foot-5, 240-pound Calhoun was a two-time captain for Michigan State and a former high school basketball star that has good burst and possesses multiple pass rush moves. Calhoun will have to improve his discipline after picking up nine encroachment penalties this past season. Continue Reading

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529

Raiders: Getting to know DE Jihad Ward

ward_jihad_3The Raiders selected Jihad Ward with the No. 44 overall pick of Friday’s NFL Draft. Here’s what you need to know about him.

College: Illinois

Position: Defensive end

Ht/Wt: 6-foot-6/295 pounds

College highlights: Two-time All-Big Ten honorable mention selection had 4.5 career sacks and 12 tackles for loss.

Pros: Raw prospect who has high upside thanks to his length and quickness. Good effort player who should be able to be part of the defensive line rotation. Continue Reading

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