ALAMEDA, Calif. -- The Oakland Raiders hold the No. 24 overall pick in this spring’s NFL draft, the latest first-round pick not affected by a trade they will make since taking Nnamdi Asomugha 31st overall in 2003.
Raiders coach Jack Del Rio, recently named the Greasy Neale Professional Coach of the Year by the Maxwell Football Club, said “interior pass rush” was “critical” and a need for Oakland.
“We were not nearly effective enough,” Del Rio said in his final media conference.
So with McGee a pending unrestricted free agent and the Senior Bowl and Mock Draft season upon us, Mel Kiper Jr. recently took his first shot at addressing said need.
And the way Kiper sees it in his ESPN Insider content, that East Lansing, Michigan-to-Oakland pipeline remains active. Because a year after the Raiders took outside linebacker Shilique Calhoun and quarterback Connor Cook in the third and fourth rounds, respectively, out of Michigan State, Kiper has the Raiders taking Spartans junior defensive tackle Malik McDowell.
McDowell only had 1 ½ sacks last fall after having 4 ½ sacks the season prior, but as ESPN.com’s scouting service notes, he has a “quick first step” and is an “easy mover” with a “flexible lower body” for a 6-foot-6, 276-pounder.
“Can straight arm a blocker and drive him back onto the quarterback,” the ESPN.com scouting report reads. “Also has the strength to generate push while engaged. Can be a bit segmented as a pass-rusher but will improve with more game experience. Flashes club and rip moves. Can redirect quickly once he penetrates the backfield. Has very good closing burst to the quarterback.”
The question, then, is this -- with that type of scouting report, will he still be around at No. 24?