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Raiders once again look for speed in NFL draft
ALAMEDA, CALIF. (AP) - The Oakland Raiders are once again feeling the need for speed.
The Raiders took two of the fastest players available in the NFL draft on Saturday, picking up cornerback Chimdi Chekwa from Ohio State and Eastern Washington running back Taiwan Jones in the fourth round.
They followed that by taking receiver Denarius Moore of Tennessee in the fifth round, giving the Raiders four players who have been clocked in sub-4.4 second 40-yard dashes, including third-round cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke of Miami.
The Raiders have now taken the fastest player at the combine the past three years with Van Dyke joining receivers Darrius Heyward-Bey and Jacoby Ford as owner Al Davis remains committed to drafting speed.
“As I told you guys before, we don’t run from speed, we run to speed, especially guys that can play,” coach Hue Jackson said.
Chekwa started 38 of his 52 career games for the Buckeyes and was also a member of Ohio State’s Big Ten championship 400-meter relay team in 2009. He had six interceptions and 29 pass breakups and was the 113th overall pick.
Chekwa was clocked at 4.38 seconds in the 40-yard dash, giving the Raiders two new speedy cornerbacks. Oakland was looking for help in the secondary with Pro Bowl cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha likely to depart as a free agent. The Raiders used two third-day picks last year on cornerbacks Walter McFadden and Jeremy Ware, who will be competing with Chris Johnson for a starting spot opposite Stanford Routt this season.
“At this point I’m just trying to go out there and compete for a position, continue to get better, continue to work on my craft, and be ready to play once I go up there and once it’s time to play in the NFL,” Chekwa said.
Jones, who grew up in nearby Antioch, was extremely productive in two years at Eastern Washington and helped the Eagles win the FCS championship last season. He ran for 2,955 yards, averaged 7.7 yards per carry and scored 37 touchdowns overall.
While running back was not a position of need for the Raiders, the team could not pass up a game-breaker like Jones with the 125th overall pick. He had 21 offensive plays of at least 50 yards in his career, including five plays of at least 80 yards.
Darren McFadden had a breakout season last year with 1,157 yards rushing and a 5.2 yard per carry average and Michael Bush added 655 yards. McFadden is under contract, while Bush received a first- and third-round tender as a restricted free agent before the NFL lockout started in March.
Jones was reportedly clocked between 4.27 and 4.35 seconds at his pro day.
The pick for Jones came from New England in a deal made the previous day. The Raiders ended up with Jones and third-round tackle Joseph Barksdale of LSU for a seventh-round pick later Saturday and a second-rounder next season.
Moore had 112 catches for 2,004 yards in 52 games at Tennessee. He had his best year as a senior with 47 catches for 981 yards and nine touchdowns, but 433 yards came in games against Kentucky and South Carolina. Moore has been clocked in the 40-yard dash in 4.39 seconds.
The Raiders, who did not have a first-round pick, took center Stefen Wisniewski in the second round and still have picks remaining in the sixth and seventh rounds.
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