Grading Raiders rookie class at midseason

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We’re at the midseason for the Raiders, so let’s check in with their rookie class, shall we? Please save your “it’s too early to judge” commentary. I know it’s early. But for posterity’s sake, it’s always good to see how things began vs how they ended up. So, here we go.

OL Alex Leatherwood (Rd 1, pick 17)

Las Vegas Raiders offensive tackle Alex Leatherwood (70) during the second half of an NFL football game against the New York Giants Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/John Munson)

Games: 8
Starts: 8

Leatherwood was drafted to play right tackle. That experiment lasted four games. At that point, he was not only a turnstile, but he was the most penalized player in the NFL. He was moved inside to guard and has had a couple of decent games of late. That’s not what the Raiders needed with that pick. They needed a right tackle. And thus, still need a right tackle.

Grade: D

S Tre'von Moehrig (Rd 2, pick 43)

Las Vegas Raiders free safety Trevon Moehrig (25) tackles Philadelphia Eagles tight end Dallas Goedert (88) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)

Games: 8
Starts: 8

Moehrig has started every game this season. And while he hasn’t made much in the way of big plays, he’s also not been a liability. He’s holding his own and giving the Raiders what they needed as a starting free safety.

Grade: B

DE Malcolm Koonce (Rd 3, pick 79)

Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Malcolm Koonce, center, watches during NFL football practice Wednesday, June 2, 2021, in Henderson, Nev. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Games: 0
Starts: 0

In times like this, there are always a few people who think “incomplete” should be a grade. Uh, no. Koonce was the team’s third pick in this draft and has not played a single snap. Granted the Raiders’ edge rush has been very good this season, but that’s the brakes, kid. Get on the field and start getting credit.

Grade: F

LB Divine Deablo (Rd 3, pick 80)

Las Vegas Raiders’ Divine Deablo (5) during the first half of an NFL football game against the New York Giants Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/John Munson)

Games: 8
Starts: 0

Deablo has been relegated almost exclusively to special teams. And while you always hope for more, it wasn’t unexpected at this point from the safety-turned linebacker. Especially with the team adding free-agent linebackers Denzel Perryman and KJ Wright.

Grade: C

S Tyree Gillespie (Rd 4, pick 143)

Las Vegas Raiders’ Tyree Gillespie (37) tackles New York Giants’ Pharoh Cooper (83) during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

Games: 8
Starts: 0

Another rookie relegated to special teams duties. He seemed like he might be an insurance policy should Johnathan Abram struggle again as he did last season. But Abram has played better under Gus Bradley. The best-case scenario for Gillespie is being the next man up should Abram be lost to injury.

Grade: C

CB Nate Hobbs (Rd 5, pick 167

Las Vegas Raiders cornerback Nate Hobbs (39) celebrates an interception against the Denver Broncos in the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/Bart Young)

Games: 8
Starts: 5

Even in the two games he didn’t “start” he actually did when you consider he’s the nickel corner. He still played the majority of the snaps in those games. And he’s been an absolute revelation. Great in coverage and an even better tackler. He is currently fourth on the team in tackles (36).

Grade: A+

C Jimmy Morrissey (Rd 7, pick 230

Las Vegas Raiders outside linebacker Andre James (68) and center Jimmy Morrissey (65) perform a drill during an NFL football organized team activity at the team’s training facility Wednesday, May 26, 2021, in Henderson, Nev. (AP Photo/David Becker)

Games: 0 (cut)

Waived prior to the start of the season and placed on the practice squad. Then he was signed away by the Houston Texans. Whaddya do. He’s a seventh-round pick.

Grade: C

Full Class

Draftees: 7
Starters: 3

Three full-time starters is not bad. Although having one of those starters not at the position he was drafted to play isn’t ideal. Neither is having a high third-round pick who hasn’t appeared in a game and three midround picks who haven’t started a single game between them. Finding Nate Hobbs in the fifth is the saving grace of this class.

Grade: C-

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