Reggie McKenzie, Jack Del Rio and the Oakland Raiders have made the necessary steps during the 2017 NFL offseason, finding defensive bargains, signing key offensive additions and filling needs during the 2017 NFL Draft. Through the first day of the NFL Draft, the Raiders selected defensive back Gareon Conley, who stated his excitement in joining the silver and black.
The 2017 NFL Draft was the key date for the Marshawn Lynch deal, with the Oakland native now set to play for his hometown team. With one running back selection filled, the Raiders were able to focus on other needs during the second day of the draft.
Their next selection came at the end of the second round, the 24th pick of the round and 56th overall. With that selection, the Raiders drafted defensive back Obi Melifonwu, from the University of Connecticut. Melifonwu could be described as the prototypical Raiders pick during the Al Davis era, with genetics and an athletic ability that could blossom.
The 6’3″, 215 lbs. defensive back was a matchup nightmare during this collegiate career, often being paired against opposing tight ends or situational receivers. His large frame presents an obstacle for the quarterback to throw around, with great awareness and hand play.
During his senior season at Connecticut, he collected 118 tackles (73 solo), along with 2.5 tackles for loss, four interceptions, three passes defended and one fumble recovery. His 118 tackles were a career high during his college tenure, as his large frame gives him plenty of power to tackle iwth in the open field.
Throughout his entire four-year career in college (48 games), he collected 349 tackles (221 solo), 11 tackles for loss, eight interceptions and 16 passes defended.
The next selection for the Raiders came in the third round, with the 24th pick of that round and the 88th overall selection. With that pick, the Raiders drafted defensive lineman Eddie Vanderdoes. The UCLA product was a questionable selection, but the Raiders are hoping to capitalize on the his play at the end of his fourth year.
Vanderdoes suffered an ACL injury two years ago, which cost him his junior season (2015). He appeared in only one game that season, before returning in 2016 to officially finish off his junior year. When the 6’3″, 305 lbs. player returned to the field, he looked sluggish and out of shape on the field.
However, he turned the corner and started to look in premiere shape towards the end of the season. During his fourth and final season at UCLA, he totaled 27 tackles (15 solo), 1.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks in 11 games played.
During the Senior Bowl, he showed strong signs of a player in shape, with quickness and explosion off the edge. If the Raiders can get teh athletic version of Vanderdoes, he could provide yet another interior threat on the defensive line.
Vanderdoes broke out during his sophomore season at UCLA, where he put together 50 tackles (37 solo), along with 5.5 tackles for loss, two sacks and a forced fumble in 13 games played.