The Oakland Raiders very quietly pulled off one of the better classes for the 2014 NFL Draft, and one of the best the disenchanted franchise has had in quite some time. Yes everyone will give the attention to first rounder Khalil Mack and second rounder Derek Carr, but Keith McGill (CB, Utah) could wind up being one of the best picks of the class.
McGill offers tremendous size and speed for the position at nearly 6-foot 4, 211-pounds running 4.5, and the former is becoming increasingly more popular in todays Seattle Seahawks-dominated NFL. Big cornerbacks with length and athleticism are becoming all the rage today to combat the even bigger wide receivers that are becoming even trendier. After all, it makes sense that to combat someone with a huge catch radius you need someone with a comparably huge coverage radius. McGill fits that mold to a ’T’.
And it’s not like he’s just a big, physical corner who can only play zone. He’s got the fluid hips to turn and run and the physicality to excel in press coverage, something the Raiders have been hoping to run more of this season. He needs to work on his footwork and some of the mechanical issues of his game, but DB coach Joe Woods has likely seen far worse.
Some mention his durability and ‘character concerns’ as to why he slipped to the fourth round, but I think that may be a tad overblown. His only real injury of note was a shoulder injury nearly two years ago that cost him the ’12 season, but by all accounts is no longer a concern. The Raiders clearly did their homework in this regard or they likely wouldn’t have even drafted him. Off the field issues? Really comes down to a DUI in 2012. Not something you want on your resume but there’s certainly light at the end of that tunnel.
McGill is a big, athletic playmaker with tremendous upside. I honestly thought he could go as early as the top of round two, so for the Raiders to just sit back and let him fall to them at no. 116 overall is an absolute bargain. He looks like an outstanding long term fit opposite DJ Hayden, the teams first round pick from last year, and could push freshly signed Carlos Rogers for playing time as early as this fall.
Considering how difficult the AFC West offenses can be to go against, the Raiders are very slowly building a nice nucleus of young defensive players. McGill, Hayden, LB Sio Moore (3rd rounder in ’13), DE/OLB Mack (5th overall this year), and DT Justin Ellis (4th round this year) represent the future of this iconic franchise that continues its climb from the ground up.