It’s far too early to tell if the Raiders’ rookie class of 2016 will have the impact of the classes of 2015 and 2014, but one thing is certain: all seven draft picks have been signed and are ready to contribute.
With minicamp over and training camp set to open in July, general manager Reggie McKenzie has no holdouts or contract squabbles to solve. With the signing of linebacker Shilique Calhoun, a third-round pick from Michigan State, the entire 2016 draft class is under contract.
This year’s class consists of first-round pick Karl Joseph, a safety from West Virginia; second-round pick Jihad Ward, a defensive lineman from Illinois; Calhoun; fourth-round pick Connor Cook, a quarterback from Michigan State; DeAndre Washington, a fifth-round pick from Texas Tech; Cory James, a linebacker from Colorado State taken in the sixth round; and guard Vadal Alexander of LSU, a seventh-round choice.
Draft analysts gave McKenzie solid marks for this year’s draft, most often in the B to B+ range, while noting that the GM accomplished his goal of upgrading the defense.
Only Joseph, who is rehabilitating from knee surgery, has been unable to fully participate in workouts since the draft. But Joseph is expected to be fully ready by training camp.
The four drafted rookies on defense should help give coordinator Ken Norton Jr. more depth and options. Veteran linebacker-defensive end Khalil Mack has been impressed by the influx of talent defensively.
“The early impressions of those guys, Shilique and Jihad and all the other rookie guys, especially on the defensive side of the ball, (I’m) very impressed,” Mack told the team’s website. “Seeing the guys work with their hands and seeing the hustle and the pursuit they have to the ball. Just knowing all those different things that coach Norton preaches. They came in and have been doing it immediately. That’s great to see.”