NFL Wire News

Raiders excited about second-round pick


The Sports Xchange

ALAMEDA, Calif. — Defensive lineman Mario Edwards Jr., the Oakland Raiders second-round draft pick, came out of Texas as one of the top recruits in the country. The son of former Florida State and Dallas Cowboys cornerback Mario Edwards admits he may have lived on his reputation early on at Florida State.

Edwards ballooned to 315 pounds at one point and it hurt his stamina.

“Coming out No. 1 in the nation and all that stuff, you have people saying you’re this and that, and all you’ve got to do is this or that,” Edwards said. “You kind of relax and take the foot off the pedal a little bit. I’d just say that me getting a little too comfortable and complacent with where I was ranked kind of had its toll on me coming in overweight.”

Raiders linebackers coach Sal Sunseri, the defensive line coach at Florida State for two years when Edwards was there, vouched for his former player and talked about his physical gifts.

Sunseri said that even at 315 pounds, Edwards could perform back flips, and that his bag drills brought to mind Julius Peppers, whom Sunseri worked with at Carolina as a position coach.

–Tight end Clive Walford joins a position group that includes leading receiver Mychal Rivera, who caught 58 passes for 534 yards and scored four touchdowns, and unrestricted free agent Lee Smith, whose strength is as a blocker.

Walford’s ability to do both would be beneficial when the Raiders go no-huddle given his skill set.

“I can high-point the ball. I’m a great pass catcher. I’m a great run-blocker,” Walford said. “I’m just a dual threat tight end.”

Said McKenzie: “We saw Clive as a complete tight end. He’s not only a receiver or a blocker-type guy only. He’s a guy that’s big and strong enough to pound it versus the D-linemen, and he can flex out and run the routes and be that pass receiver.

–The back story of fourth-round pick Jon Feliciano, a guard from Miami, includes growing up poor with a mother who has twice been diagnosed with cancer, growing up poor and at one point being forced to sleep in a condemned house.

It made the call from the Raiders just that much more special as he celebrated with friends and family.

“Growing up there was a lot of extra stuff I had to go through and everyone at my house right now at this party,” Feliciano said. “That’s why I wanted them around me and to be drafted in the fourth round by such a great organization, it’s a blessing and I’m so happy.”

–Linebacker Ben Heeney admitted after gaining more than 2,000 yards rushing and scoring 39 touchdowns as a high school senior he never envisioned being an NFL linebacker.

“Actually I thought I’d be a running back in college,” Heeney said. “I grew up playing running back and played defense, but I would get like five touchdowns a game. I thought that was the path I would take, but I got to college and they saw me more as an athlete. I think I’m very versatile.”

–Andre DeBose, the second of three seventh-round draft picks, has a legitimate chance to contribute immediate on kickoff and punt returns. It was area in which he excelled at Florida, with four kickoff returns and a punt return for touchdowns.

DeBose, who runs a 4.35 40-yard dash, never became the receiving threat his talent seemed to warrant.

A closer look at the Raiders’ picks:

–Round 1/4 — Amari Cooper, WR, 6-foot-1, 201 pounds, Alabama

The highest drafted receiver in franchise history, Cooper should step immediately into the starting lineup and provide second-year quarterback Derek Carr with a primary target for years to come.

–Round 2/35 — Mario Edwards Jr., DE, 6-3, 279, Florida State

Battled weight issues early in college and had eight career sacks. The Raiders believe Edwards has his weight under control and can help with the pass rush both outside and inside between 280 and 285 pounds.

–Round 3/68 — Clive Walford, TE, 6-4, 251, Miami

Caught 44 passes for 676 yards and seven touchdowns for the Hurricanes at a school known for developing tight ends. The appeal of Walford is can handle himself as an in-line blocker as well as a receiver, particularly in the red zone.

–Round 4/128 — Jon Feliciano, G, 6-4, 323, Miami

Will compete at the wide open right guard spot vacated by Austin Howard (moved to tackle) but can also play center and has played outside at tackle. Hit it off with Raiders offensive line coach Mike Tice at the scouting combine.

–Round 5/140 — Ben Heeney, LB, 6-0, 231, Kansas

Heeney, an All-Big 12 performer for the Jayhawks, had a nose for the ball and led his team in tackles. He started as an inside linebacker, but as a former prep standout running back, has good athleticism and can play outside as well and on special teams.

–Round 5/161 — Neiron Ball, LB, 6-2, 236, Florida

Medical issues included brain surgery that caused Ball to miss the 2011 season, microfracture/meniscus surgery and sports hernia surgery. The Raiders are convinced Ball is healthy and ready to capitalize on his considerable skill set.

–Round 6/179 — Max Valles, DE, 6-5, 251, Virginia

Valles left Virginia with two years of eligibility left as an outside linebacker, finishing second in the Atlantic Coast Conference with nine sacks. The Raiders project Valles as defensive end and hope to add some girth to his frame.

–Round 7/218 — Anthony Morris, T, 6-7, 303, Tennessee State

Morris anchored a line that did not allow a sack in his team’s last four games. Raiders like his quick feet and agility and were impressed at a pre-draft visit to the club facility.

Round 7/221 — Andre Debose, WR, 6-0, 190, Florida

Had checkered career with the Gators but also had four kickoff returns and one punt return for a touchdown in his career. He elected to sit out final college game, skipping a trip to the Birmingham Bowl.

–Round 7/242 — Dexter McDonald, CB, 6-1, 203, Kansas

Started 24 games in the past two seasons with the Jayhawks and has prototype size to be press coverage cornerback in a man-to-man defense. Defended 15 passes as a senior but had a knack for drawing penalties.

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