Neiron Ball to the Oakland Raiders: Full Draft-Pick Breakdown

When the No. 161 overall pick was announced in the 2015 NFL draft, it seemed like a horrible pick for the Oakland Raiders. However, when you dig a little deeper, there’s something intriguing about Neiron Ball out of Florida.

Statistics aren’t the entire picture with this particular prospect. Ball’s college resume doesn’t strike you as a player ready to make big contributions in the NFL. However, when assessing his unique attributes—speed, strength, toughness and versatility—there’s a slight chance he makes the 53-man roster for the 2015 season. 

Versatility is a term thrown around very often when describing a player. What the term really means on the NFL level is the ability to flex into different positions and excel in different areas on the field. Ball hasn’t done that on the college level, but he could be a rotational player on the defensive line.

He came into the draft as an outside linebacker, which is a crowded position on the Raiders roster. I’m convinced the coaching staff will attempt to utilize his skill set at defensive end. Ball weighs 236 pounds, and Randy Gregory weighs about 235. That's fairly lightweight for a 4-3 edge-rusher competing against offensive tackles weighing 300-plus pounds.

Ball will need to put on bulk, which isn’t a difficult task when you have unlimited access to great facilities. He already has the strength and speed to beat the line protection. It’s likely that Ken Norton Jr. gives the Florida prospect a shot at becoming the heir to Justin Tuck’s position.

Tuck, 32, has one more year left on his contract, per Unless he has a great 2015 season, I don’t see him back in Oakland, which creates open competition for the spot. Ball could be the project that fills the need. However, he may not make the roster as an outside linebacker; his success wi...

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