Wed, 16 Jun 2021

Playing word association with the Raiders' 2021 draft class

Las Vegas Raiders
11 May 2021, 22:05 GMT+10

Levi Edwards Alex Leatherwood: Winner

Alex Leatherwood was drafted to the Raiders from a really big team that had some really big rings.

The offensive tackle from Alabama was a two-time CFB National Champion, two-time SEC Champion and an Outland Award recipient. The man knows what it takes to win.

He's an exceptional athlete with a great balance of speed, agility and power. The college program that Leatherwood is coming from holds weight, and few if any schools produce as many elite NFL talents as Alabama, including Leatherwood's teammate Josh Jacobs, who has rushed for consecutive 1,000 yard seasons since entering the league. Leatherwood believes reuniting with his former Alabama teammates on the Raiders will be beneficial toward igniting a winning culture in the desert.

"We come from the same college, so we got the same mindset as far as things we want to accomplish as a team," said Alex Leatherwood on Upon Further Review with Eddie Paskal. "We know how to win because of the place we've come from."

Trevon Moehrig: Polished

Alongside Leatherwood, I believe Moehrig may be the most NFL-ready draft pick the Raiders selected this year.

His body of work at TCU has been something to marvel at. Moehrig displayed everything that you would want to see out of your prototypical NFL safety. The Jim Thorpe Award winner can stop the run, misses few tackles in the open field and has coverage skills that could warrant some snaps at cornerback. He allowed no receiving touchdowns as a primary defender last season. Gary Patterson, head coach at TCU, is very adamant that the Raiders selected a great player and an even better person.

"He's a guy that I think has a high ceiling because he knows how to process well off the field," said Gary Patterson on The Morning Grind. "He's going to be a great locker room guy; he's going to be a guy that's going to do what people want him to do (but) he can also think for himself, and he is comfortable in his own skin."

Malcolm Koonce: Bendy

I'm going to borrow the adjective General Manager Mike Mayock used to describe Malcolm Koonce and why the Raiders drafted him.

"He's got a real chance to do some things that are kind of cool and will help complement Ngakoue," said Mike Mayock on Malcolm Koonce. "Now we got two kinds of guys that can bend the edge with some speed off the edge, and that's what we didn't have the last two years is that bendy guy that can threaten off the edge with speed."

"We've got the big powerful guys; we didn't have the bendy edge guys."

Koonce is a very slick pass rusher with speed and flexibility to get to the quarterback who had 17 sacks at Buffalo. Koonce could definitely make his impact felt as a special-teams guy and a third-down edge rusher.

Divine Deablo: Powerful

Divine Deablo is a big boy.

The Virginia Tech DB might be the total package when it comes to athleticism. Very fast and physical, he has a powerful presence in the backfield when you see him play. That same powerful presence led the Raiders to select him and transition him into an outside linebacker.

Deablo has shown the ability to play deep, as well as come up and cover in the middle of the field. And these measurables are impressive:

"At 227 pounds he ran a 4.42. He's a looser athlete than you would think for that size," said Mike Mayock after drafting Deablo. "We do think he could play strong safety, but the lure to us is that he can play WILL linebacker, he can do what Gus' defense demands at the WILL linebacker position. He can probably even matchup with some tight ends in our division and do some things creatively."

"I think the league is changing to the point where you don't necessarily have to find what the position is anymore on defense; you're looking for big guys that can run. That's what he is."

Tyree Gillespie: Speed

Gillespie may be the fastest player in the Raiders' 2021 Draft class.

The man who ran a 4.38 40-yard dash at his Pro Day knows how to get to the ball. When watching the film from Gillespie's days as a Tiger, his biggest strengths are above and beyond his speed and pursuit. Gillespie has had some good days against the SEC's best receivers thanks to his abilities of make plays.

What Gillespie may lack in size, he makes up for in heart and aggression. The former Missouri Tiger could be extremely beneficial in a run defense that has struggled the past three seasons. His abilities to stop the run stacked in the box is the part of his game he "take (his) pride in the most."

Overall assessment: Speed demon.

Nate Hobbs: Underdog

Hobbs journey to getting drafted has been no bed of roses, no pleasure cruise.

The cornerback, who has been under the radar since his time as a two-star prospect from St. Louis, scratched and clawed for playing time since his freshman year at Illinois and established himself as a hard-nosed, aggressive cornerback that's willing to truly get it out the mud. Hobbs has kept a chip on his shoulder to keep him motivated and described himself as "the best underdog" the Raiders have ever drafted.

"That's what I've been all my life; I don't know anything else," said Hobbs embracing the underdog role. "I came into high school, I didn't play varsity until my junior year. A lot of people didn't know who I was, and I got on the scene quick and made the most of that. Got to college, I wasn't a high recruit, I was about a two-star, only had one Power-5 offer."

"I made noise when I was in college that got me to the position where I am now."

You have to love a player like that.

Jimmy Morrissey: Fighter

Speaking of underdogs, you have another one here in the Raiders seventh-round pick.

Jimmy Morrissey went from having no FBS scholarship offers to being a three-time All-ACC center and Burlsworth Trophy winner for the nation's best former walk-on player. The center bet on himself, and it paid off big time en route to being the 230th pick.

What sticks out the most from Morrissey's film is that he is smart and has good footwork. He possesses a very calm presence in the trenches and has a way of getting the rest of the offense on the same page. Morrissey was also consistently on the field as a Panther, playing in 47 games.

"I've been fortunate enough to play a lot of ball at Pitt," said Jimmy Morrissey. "I've loved every game I've played in and all those snaps, it's definitely made me the player I am today. And I'm extremely comfortable under pressure. I've played a lot of guys, everyone from first-round picks to free agents, so I've seen a lot. A lot of different schemes and teams and different kinds of players."

Hopefully for the Raiders, Morrissey can bring the same fighting spirit to the desert that landed him his scholarship at Pittsburgh.

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