It’s been a mixed bag for the Raiders’ 2023 draft class, with first-round pick Tyree Wilson a disappointment and tight end Michael Mayer and wide receiver Tre Tucker held back by an offense struggling to get untracked.
Still, there is hope within the organization that time is on the rookies’ side and this class will eventually churn out foundational pieces — perhaps even the quarterback of the future.
Here is a breakdown with grades of the class as the Raiders sit at their bye week with a 5-7 record:
Tyree Wilson, Texas Tech, DE
There is no way to describe Wilson’s rookie season other than disappointing. He’s ranked 104th out of 107 edge rushers, per Pro Football Focus, and has been credited with two sacks, 11 stops, six hurries and nine quarterback pressures in 315 snaps.
Some mitigating reasons have played into his performance, including missing the offseason and most of training camp while rehabbing from a foot injury. All of that left him way behind by the time the regular season started.
Nevertheless, he hasn’t made the progress or impact one would expect from the No. 7 pick and faces a critical final stretch to save his season.
Michael Mayer, Notre Dame, TE
Mayer was a bit of a coup in the second round after being projected to be a first-round pick. After a slow start in training camp — he got thrown around by edge rusher Maxx Crosby on one memorable practice day — Mayer has grown exponentially as a blocker and every time the Raiders have tapped into him in the passing game.
It’s not Mayer’s fault the Raiders have not done a good job of making him a focal point in the passing attack, so his 22 catches for 251 yards and a touchdown need to be viewed accordingly. He is on target to be a big-time player.
Byron Young, Alabama, DT
Young has been a major disappointment while playing just 99 snaps, in which he’s come up with four tackles, one quarterback hurry and one quarterback pressure. That’s not what the Raiders envisioned when they used a premium pick to secure him. Young has a long way to go to justify the Raiders’ faith in him.
Tre Tucker, Cincinnati, WR
Tucker has just eight catches for 161 yards, including receptions of 48 and 50 yards. The lack of production is more on the Raiders than Tucker, who has shown that his speed can be a difference maker. The key is the Raiders doing a better job of getting him involved.
Jakorian Bennett, Maryland, CB
Bennett was thrust into the starting job on the first day of training camp and began the season as one of three starting cornerbacks. Holding onto that job has been an issue, with injuries and rookie struggles resulting in missed games and benchings.
According to Pro Football Focus, Bennett is ranked 119th out of 120 cornerbacks, and he’s graded poorly as a tackler and pass-coverage defender. The promise is still there, and the next five games are essential to create momentum for his second season.
Aidan O’Connell, Purdue, QB
Clearly no one imagined O’Connell becoming the starting quarterback midway through the season, but between the struggles of Jimmy Garoppolo and O’Connell’s rapid ascension, that’s what happened.
Considering his draft placement, O’Connell has acquitted himself reasonably well while completing 113 of 178 passes for 1,194 yards, four touchdowns and six interceptions. Whether he has convinced the Raiders he is the quarterback of the future is another question, though he has five games left to prove that point.
Either way, O’Connell seems to have the skill set at least to be a middle-of-the-pack NFL quarterback.
Christopher Smith, Georgia, S
The Raiders have gotten strong play from their safeties, which has left Smith more on a development and special teams track rather than an immediate contributor.
That isn’t necessarily a bad thing for a fifth-round pick, and the Raiders remain confident in his ability to become a contributing player.
Amari Burney, Florida, LB
Another late-round pick situated behind effective veterans, Burney has flashed, but there just isn’t enough of a sample size to make a call on him.
Nesta Jade Silvera, Arizona State, DT
Silvera is essentially taking a redshirt season. He had moments during training camp when he flashed some big-time skills, but he’s on a development track hoping for a future payoff.
Contact Vincent Bonsignore at email@example.com. Follow@VinnyBonsignore on X.