When the Raiders selected defensive end Maxx Crosby in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft, the Eastern Michigan product wasn’t supposed to become a defensive cornerstone right out of the gates.
Crosby was viewed as a backup/special-teams player. He was an undersized edge rusher from a small school with the burst, length and motor to intrigue teams to draft him with a late-round selection and see if they could develop him.
His burst and motor propelled him to 10 sacks in his rookie season and saw him be the runner-up for the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year Award. Finding players like Crosby — underrated guys with developmental potential and one or two skills that will immediately help a team — is what can take a draft class from great to historic.
As the Raiders enter the 2020 NFL Draft with three third-round picks, a fourth-round pick and fifth-round pick to go along with the No. 12 and No. 19 overall picks.
It’s in the third and fourth rounds where general manager Mike Mayock knows he will make his mark, believing he should add three or four starters with those selections.
Crosby went from situational pass-rusher to star edge rusher in a flash, and there will no doubt be players available in the third and fourth rounds who can mirror Crosby’s immediate leap from fourth-round pick to key franchise piece.
Let’s look at four NFL draft prospects who are being overlooked, but have elite skills that will translate to the NFL level much like Crosby’s burst.
Amik Robertson, CB, Louisiana Tech
Elite skill: Ball skills
We know the Raiders need cornerback help. At 5-foot-8, Robertson profiles as a slot corner at the NFL.
He’s physical at the line of scrimmage, a fearless tackler, great anticipation and has A-plus ball skills. He’s currently projected to be a late third-round pick and he could be a nice grab for the Raiders at No. 91 overall.
While Lamarcus Joyner currently occupies the slot-corner role, he was disappointing in Year 1 in silver and black, so his time could be limited. Either way, a guy with Robertson’s ball skills and a massive chip on his shoulder would be a good fit in Las Vegas.
So, for the rest of my Amik Robertson clips.
Guy’s got like classic Cover-2 corner skills.
Problem is that has gone extinct as a base D.
Good news tho, is it’s a skill set far more applicable to the slot, where he’s likely to get moved immediately. pic.twitter.com/dwFPrnCb32
— Sam Monson (@PFF_Sam) April 15, 2020
Isaiah Coulter, WR, Rhode Island
Elite trait: Athleticism
In a deep and loaded receiver class, Coulter could end up being one of the best of the bunch.
At 6-foot-2, 198 pounds, Coulter possesses the length, speed and athleticism to entice teams to believe he can develop into a star X receiver at the NFL level. He currently is projected to be a fourth-round pick who is listed as a developmental prospect with intriguing traits.
The Raiders are expected to take an elite wide receiver in the first round of the NFL draft, but could look to add another enticing developmental receiver in the later rounds.
— Chad Reuter (@chad_reuter) February 11, 2020
Antonio Gibson, WR, Memphis
Elite trait: Explosiveness
The Raiders need offensive firepower, especially at the wide receiver position. While the Raiders could add an electric talent like Alabama’s Henry Ruggs in the first round, you can always use another home-run threat.
Gibson was a do-it-all offensive Swiss Army Knife for Memphis, averaging 19.3 yards per catch and scoring 14 touchdowns on 77 touches in two seasons. He has great straight-line speed and the versatility to operate out of the backfield or at wide receiver.
Projected to go between the fourth and sixth rounds, Gibson is a threat to take the ball to the house any time he touches the ball.
Antonio Gibson had a night in the Memphis Tigers 54 to 48 win over SMU. A look at Gibson’s 3 touchdowns pic.twitter.com/uaa0c5Pei2
— Kevin Barbee (@local24kevin) November 3, 2019
Geno Stone, S, Iowa
Elite skill: Coverage anticipation
The Raiders are set at safety this year, but with Damarious Randall only on a one-year deal they should be looking for a late-round addition at the position.
Stone has incredible instincts, toughness and tackling ability. Questions about his length and long-term fit will see him drop, but Stone could be one of the steals of the draft.
#Iowa S Geno Stone (5-foot-10, 207) — Plays with urgency (eyes, instincts). No hesitation as a downhill defender.
— Matt Bowen (@MattBowen41) April 4, 2020