A wrap-up of the Oakland Raiders' draft.
Best move: Snagging hard-hitting safety Karl Joseph from West Virginia with their first-round pick at No. 14 overall. Even as there are questions about Joseph’s knee being ready by training camp in late July, he addressed an immediate need in the secondary and no doubt he would have been gone in the second round had the Raiders waited. He’s a fierce hitter and a ball hawk, as evidenced by his five interceptions in the four games in which he played before suffering his season-ending knee injury in practice. As long as he is healthy, he will push Nate Allen for the starting strong safety position.
Riskiest move: Using a second-round pick on Jihad Ward, who is also possibly in need of a minor knee procedure. Is he raw? Is he a project? Raiders coach Jack Del Rio and general manager Reggie McKenzie seemed at odds on applying a title to Ward but this much is true: Considering his standing as the No. 44 overall draft pick, Ward needs to produce and produce fast -- even with the likes of Bruce Irvin and Khalil Mack already on the roster and Aldon Smith due to return in November from suspension. Especially if Mario Edwards Jr.’s neck issue keeps him sidelined. In fact, Ward had just 1.5 sacks last season at Illinois.
Most surprising move: Trading up to take Michigan State’s Connor Cook, the fourth-rated quarterback in the entire draft, with the second pick of the fourth round, No. 100 overall. Look, the Raiders already have a franchise quarterback in Derek Carr and a serviceable backup in Matt McGloin and there are questions about Cook’s ability to fit in and lead. Maybe this humbles him, and he accepts his role. Maybe if Carr falters, Cook steps in and thrives. Then again, by moving up, the Raiders blocked the Dallas Cowboys from taking him. Maybe McKenzie still felt the sting of the Philadelphia Eagles moving in front of him three years ago to draft Matt Barkley?
File it away: McKenzie could not believe his luck when he saw that LSU’s mammoth Vadal Alexander, who was ranked as the No. 2 guard in the class by the Pro Football Draft Guide, was still there in the seventh round. The Raiders scooped him up with the 13th pick of the round, No. 234 overall. It would not be a shock to see the 6-foot-6, 329-pound Alexander work his way into the huge O-line’s rotation early on this season.
Thumbs down: With a caveat. Early on it seemed as though the Raiders were bent on drafting players with knee issues, though they did address needs at safety and pass-rusher. But they did not draft a pure middle linebacker and, instead of finding a serviceable backup quarterback late in the draft, they took the fourth-ranked prospect in Cook, even though they already have a franchise starter in Carr. Looking at it through the prism of having to fill needs with immediate contributors, it’s a head-scratcher of a draft. Looking at it as a draft for the future, it’s more than functional.