ALAMEDA – The Raiders’ 2012 draft class has gone the way of the buffalo. Members are an endangered species on the current roster, with only Jack Crawford left as a regular player.
Another was defensive tackle Christo Bilukidi, who was waived Wednesday to make room for outside linebacker Martez Wilson.
That’s another knock against general manager Reggie McKenzie’s first draft class, which was selected shortly after head coach Dennis Allen was hired.
While it’s easy to point fingers and make fun, it’s not exactly fair. The Raiders didn’t select until the compensatory section of the third round due to trades McKenzie didn’t make. Early-round picks produce faster. Later selections (all McKenzie had) take longer to develop, if at all.
“It’s tough for those guys that are down the line to make it in this league,” Allen said on Thursday. “But then we were also able to pick up some guys that we got as undrafted free agents that have really come in, stepped up and helped us.”
The Raiders signed three undrafted free agents that have paid dividends. Receiver Rod Streater has played every game since turning pro, with 58 catches for 858 yards and four touchdowns in 22 games. He's a full-time starter now and a major part of the Raiders offense.
Lucas Nix has made four starts at left guard this season, although third-rounder Tony Bergstrom would've challenged for Nix’s spot had he stayed healthy. Nix has struggled at times, but he’s made a greater impact than others drafted before him.
Marquette King, signed to a three-year deal after the 2012 draft, is the team’s punter and ranks No. 6 overall with a 42-yard net average.
Injuries have hurt Bergstrom and fourth round pick Miles Burris, who had 96 tackles and 15 starts last season but has been on the physically unable to perform list since training camp.
The Raiders have a few impact players signed as rookies in 2012, but those drafted haven’t panned out just yet.
Compare that to the 2011 draft class, which includes receiver Denarius Moore (fifth round), defensive back Chemdi Chekwa (fourth round) and special teams standout Taiwan Jones (fourth round) taken in rounds where the Raiders had selections in 2012. The team also took center Stefen Wisniewski in the second round that year.
It takes three years to truly grade a draft class, so we’ll reserve judgment – tempered of course, by the lack of a first or second round pick – here.
Allen remains optimistic that group will pay further dividends.
“I think we’ll see some good things, not only out of the 2012 guys, but some of these guys we drafted this past season,” Allen said. “I think that, as we keep moving down the road, I think those guys will help us.”
Here’s a look at the entire 2012 draft class and where they are now:
G Tony Bergstrom, Utah (Third round, No. 95 overall): Projected starter is on injured reserve with a foot injury.
LB Miles Burris, San Diego State (Fourth round, No. 129 overall): On the physically unable to perform list rehabbing a knee injury, although he could practice next week. That's a disappointing follow-up to a rookie season where he had 96 tackles in 16 games and 15 starts.
DL Jack Crawford, Penn State (Fifth round, No. 158 overall): Reserve defensive tackle and end has six tackles in five games.
WR Juron Criner, Arizona (Fifth round, No. 168 overall): On the 53-man roster but hasn’t been active for a game this season. He had 16 receptions for 151 yards and a touchdown as a rookie.
DT Christo Bilukidi, Georgia State (Sixth round, No. 189 overall): Was released on Wednesday, cleared waivers and is a free agent.
LB Nathan Stupar, Penn State (Seventh round, No. 230 overall): Plays special teams for the 49ers, with four tackles in as many games played. He was released from the Raiders practice squad and bounced from the Eagles to the 49ers before being place on the active roster this season.