The Las Vegas Raiders are trying to evaluate their roster this offseason. They have to do this because of the past few drafts. Let’s take a hard look at the picks, and give them brand-new grades.
The Las Vegas Raiders are trying to figure out where they go from here. Derek Carr is on the chopping block and likely played his last game with the only franchise he knows. It seems like every great Raiders player of this generation has to come to a devastating end to their tenure. Then, there’s nobody to replace them because the Raiders failed at the NFL Draft.
That’s where we’ll take this conversation. Let’s look at the past five drafts and give a new grade to each draft pick. Let’s go all the way back to 2018.
Kolton Miller of UCLA poses with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Grading Raiders 2018 first-round pick: T Kolton Miller – A
There’s not much that went right in the draft for the Raiders, but Kolton Miller is the rare hit. Drafted with the 15th-overall pick, Miller immediately beat out Donald Penn to become the Raiders starting left tackle.
Years later, he beat out Trent Brown, who the Raiders gave a bag to sign in free agency. Miller has become one of the top pass blockers in the league, and if the Raiders offensive line wasn’t a complete mess for years, Miller would get a lot more respect than he does now.
Grading Raiders 2018 second-round pick: DT P.J. Hall – F
What a difference a round makes. P.J. Hall was an FCS All-American for Sam Houston State in his junior and senior year. It’s rare that teams take a chance on interior linemen outside of the Power 5 Conferences, but this one made sense for the Raiders at the time. However, the Raiders got poor remarks for the pick back then. It looks even worse after he lasted just two seasons in Oakland before finishing up in the XFL.
Grading Raiders 2018 third-round pick: T Brandon Parker – B-
The Raiders went with another lineman from a small school. Brandon Parker came out of North Carolina A&T. He didn’t allow a single sack in his entire college career. However, the Raiders kept getting players to replace him. Now, Parker is coming off a season where he spent its entirety on injured reserve. We’ll see how much longer he spends with the team after that.
Grading Raiders 2018 third-round pick: DE Arden Key – C-
Arden Key is an interesting case. He’s a productive player for a team that’s moving on in the playoffs this season. He looks like a legit player, however, it’s for another team. He had a big sack in the Jacksonville Jaguars’ win against the Tennessee Titans that drove them to the playoffs. Then, against the Los Angeles Chargers, he was more of a vocal leader than a statistical one. That’s much different than his time with the Raiders, where the biggest play he made actually helped the Miami Dolphins eliminate them in 2020. He grabbed Ryan Fitzpatrick’s facemask and caused a personal foul penalty. That put the Dolphins in field goal range, and the Raiders lost the game by one. That’s Key’s legacy with the Raiders.
Grading Raiders 2018 fourth-round pick: CB Nick Nelson – D
It’s hard to give a failing grade to a player who loses his career due to injury. That’s what barely saves Nick Nelson. He has 12 total NFL games, and he’s out of the league after a year on Indianapolis’ practice squad. There’s not a lot to say. Nelson has been hurt for most of his career, and he has been fighting for his career from day one, and he never really got much of a shot.
Grading Raiders 2018 fifth-round pick: DT Maurice Hurst – C
The Raiders had a great philosophy when they took defensive tackle Maurice Hurst in the fourth round. He was considered a top-ten talent, but a heart condition that came up before the Michigan Pro Day saw his stock plummet. Hurst looked great in his rookie season, recording four sacks and 31 total tackles. He even deflected three passes. Things fell off after that, and he ended up signing with the San Francisco 49ers after three seasons. He finished this year on IR.
Grading Raiders 2018 fifth-round pick: P Johnny Townsend – F
When a team uses a draft pick on a punter, it better be a hit. Teams expect the punter who’s drafted to last a lifetime. Johnny Townsend lasted one season. The Raiders waived him before the 2019 season, and he bounced between teams before ending his career this past season. Do you know who wasn’t drafted? Tommy Townsend, Johnny’s brother. He was just named the All-Pro punter for the 2022 season.
Grading Raiders 2018 sixth-round pick: LB Azeem Victor – F
Azeem Victor couldn’t even make the team out of training camp in 2018. He never really made a roster after coming into the draft with health and character concerns. It seemed like nobody was willing to deal with it, and he was even suspended for what many assume was a violation of the substance abuse policy when he tried to make an NFL comeback. This is a complete failure.
Grading Raiders 2018 seventh-round pick: WR Marcell Ateman – C-
Marcell Ateman was the Raiders’ seventh-round pick after a successful tenure with Oklahoma State. He was mostly a practice squad player for most of his career before being the second-overall pick in the XFL skill player draft. We’ll see if he still has it when they get that league up and running again this offseason.