Spoiler alert: The Raiders will select an ILB with their first pick of the 2017 NFL draft. Yeah I know, Reggie doesn’t value ILB’s highly… Well then why did he select A.J. Hawk in the first round? I heard the same thing about Reggie not valuing Wr’s in the top 10 before he selected Amari Cooper and I still hear he doesn’t value Rb’s highly even though he took Eddie Lacy in rd 2.
So, it’s established he’s taking an ILB with the first pick, because we have an ILB hole as big as Dan Williams’ ass. The only question is, which one should it be? There are 3 ILB’s that wouldn’t be considered big reaches that could be there at 24; and now, possibly a 4th who was widely considered a top 15 pick before his recent failed drug test, Reuben Foster.
- Haason Reddick: Before Fosters failed drug test, Reddick would’ve been considered the highest rated ILB potentially there at pick #24. Due to injuries that limited Reddick to only 4 games in his last 2 years of high school where he played RB and Safety, Reddick was forced to walk on at Temple University.
The Temple coaching staff lined the stud athlete up at defensive end where he improved yearly, capped by his senior campaign that included 10.5 sacks and 3 forced fumbles. The guy is easily the fastest top ILB prospect In this year’s draft and is one of the fastest ever clocking a 40 time of 4.52.
He’s very aggressive and finds the ball carrier quickly. Even if his aggressiveness causes him to over pursue at times (hi Ben Heeney!), he’s so fast he chases down the ball carrier often times in the backfield ala Ryan Shazier (proven by his 21.5 tackles for loss his senior year).
With his pass rushing ability you can also blitz him, and Pagano is known for his creative blitzes, or you can play him on the edge. The problem? how will he adapt to ILB after playing DE throughout college? It’ll require different responsibilities and sure he’s fast, but fast guys can’t always cover. Will he end up playing WLB? Also of note: him and a teammate were involved in an assault outside a nightclub in 2015, but he wasn’t suspended.
- Zach Cunningham: Zach is a tackling machine. He led the developmental NFL league (aka the SEC) in tackles last year. He also has a knack for forcing fumbles; tallying 4 his senior year. This guy is as good as any ILB I’ve seen at finding the ball carrier. He has an ability to slither through o-lines to get to the ball the way Arian Foster in his prime slithered through d-lines.
If you watch any Vanderbilt game the guy sticks out like Joey Bosa’s nose. In college he was excellent in both man and zone coverage and he has a 6’3 frame that could help him match up with tall TE’s like, umm say Travis Kelce. What’s the problem? He ran a 4.68 40 and although he could cover in college, that’s not the speed you want covering Kelce and Gronk. Also he has a tendency to arm tackle and has a thin frame and legs not ideal for an ILB.
- Jarrad Davis: Jarrad Davis is an angry, angry, man. The guy wants to hurt the ball carrier and the guys blocking for the ball carrier. Seriously the guy actually get’s caught up at times going at with o-linemen when he should be disengaging and getting to the ball. In case you didn’t figure it out already, Davis is tough; sustaining an ankle injury before his senior season that eventually required offseason surgery causing him to miss the combine yet he managed to start in all but 3 games that year.
Davis is also blazing fast, running a 4.56 40 at his pro day; that’s faster than guys like Kuechly, (Eric) Kendricks and Moseley. The word is his character is off the charts causing Todd Mcshay to call him a top 5 player In the draft with regards to character.
Davis was also good in man and zone coverage in college and was a good blitzer from the ILB position racking up 3.5 sacks in 2015. What’s the problem? He tends to take a bad angle here and there and get’s caught up fighting with o-linemen at times as previously mentioned. He also over pursues at times, similar to Reddick in this aspect because he’s so aggressive. He also has injury concerns as previously mentioned.
- Reuben Foster: Foster is a natural born linebacker. He diagnoses the play and flies to the ball with little wasted movement and strikes with violence (I’m sold. I’ll take this guy–Kenny). Playing at Alabama allows him the luxury of not having to take on too many blockers but when he did face one, often times he used his speed strength and ability to breeze past them easily.
He throws his body around with reckless abandon, is good in coverage and good at blitzing the qb; registering 5 sacks his senior year. So what’s the problem?
He had shoulder surgery this year so there’s concern of the long term effects of the injury. In his first 2 years at Alabama he battled through other injuries that caused him to get little playing time so maybe he’s injury prone? He was sent home from the combine for getting into a confrontation with an employee at the clinic and now it’s been reported that his drug test administered at the combine came back diluted so there’s character concerns.
So who should Reggie take?
Jarrad Davis is the guy he should take and the guy I think Reggie will take. During the broadcast of the Florida Umass game Davis was flagged for a questionable late hit on the qb and the announcer mentioned that during practice he observed coaches having to calm Davis down for being too aggressive. Come on, what Raider fan doesn’t want a guy like that on our defense? By all accounts the guy has great character, he’s a thumper, he can cover, he’s very fast, and he’s not sitting out a playoff game for precautionary reasons like a certain Golden State Small Forward. Also, the guy has an injury history so Reggie automatically adds 5 points to his draft grade.
It’s happening. Embrace it.
Jarrad Davis will be the leader of your 2017 Oakland Raider defense.
Written By: Inonewordraider
Edited By: Kenny Stapler