Raiders select safety Obi Melifonwu in second round of the 2017 NFL Draft

Raiders select safety Obi Melifonwu in second round of the 2017 NFL Draft

Position: Safety
College: Connecticut
Height: 6-foot-4
Weight: 224
Selection: Second round, No. 56 overall

The Raiders don’t have many safeties, a position group with Reggie Nelson, Karl Joseph and not much else.

They added a physical specimen in the second round, someone who can play aggressive near the line of scrimmage. Melifonwu stands 6-foot-4 and 224 pounds, which gives him an advantage intercepting and breaking up passes.

This is an excellent value at this spot in the second round, and provides depth and competition at a key defensive spot. He can cover tight ends well without being a size mismatch, an asset the Raiders have lacked in recent seasons. He’s a hard-hitting tackler with breakneck speed. He ran a 4.40 40-yard dash at the NFL scouting combine and jumped out of the building during agility drills.

NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said during the draft broadcast that Melifonwu can play press cornerback and linebacker in certain packages outside his natural safety spot. He has great range, helped by size and speed to cover miscalculations.

Analysts say he can be slow to diagnosis plays, but could be aided by veterans around him in the Raiders backfield. He also struggles at times as the last line of defense.

The Raiders have taken two defensive backs in as many selections, trying to fortify a pass defense ranked a disappointing 24th last season. They gave up too many big plays in the back, and the Raiders had drafted players who can shore up that deficiency.

General manager Reggie McKenzie prefers size in the secondary, and they got a player with great physical traits who can be developed into an even better player.

Incumbent members of the Raiders secondary should be on notice, with young bucks set to compete for significant playing time. It should be a deeper, tougher unit with Melifonwu and first-round pick Gareon Conley.

He impressed at the NFL scouting combine and the Senior Bowl, where he proved he compete with higher-level competition. If Melinfonwu and Conley make an immediate impact, the Raiders pass defense should be much improved.

Aldon Smith back in custody after police say he violated restraining order


Aldon Smith back in custody after police say he violated restraining order

SAN FRANCISCO — Former Oakland Raiders player Aldon Smith surrendered to police Friday on charges he violated a domestic violence restraining order.

San Francisco police said the 28-year-old Smith turned himself and was booked on three misdemeanor charges of violating a court order to stay away from a domestic violence victim.

Earlier this month, Smith pleaded not guilty to domestic violence and other charges and a judge issued a protective order prohibiting him from contacting the victim.

Police said Smith violated the restraining order earlier this week.

Smith’s attorney, Joshua Bentley, did not return a voicemail message from The Associated Press seeking comment.

The Raiders released the linebacker days after his arrest on the domestic violence charges.

He had been on the suspended list since late 2015 for violating the NFL’s policy on substance abuse.

Raiders retain E.J. Manuel, now have four QBs on the roster


Raiders retain E.J. Manuel, now have four QBs on the roster

The Raiders have a lot of quarterbacks under contract, certainly more than they’ll have come September.

That means the battle to be Derek Carr’s backup should be fierce. EJ Manuel had that title last year, with a shot to retain it after re-signing with the club on Thursday afternoon.

Veteran Josh Johnson signed up Monday, and those two will join third-year man Connor Cook behind Carr on the depth chart.

New head coach Jon Gruden loved Cook coming out of the draft, but the Michigan State alum failed to earn the backup job last season and must make a move up the depth chart to kickstart his career.

Manuel has a strong arm and starting experience, making him a steady and solid backup option. He completed 24-of-43 passes for 265 yards, a touchdown and an interception in two games when Carr was hurt.

Johnson might be a camp arm at this point, though he’ll be given a chance to compete this spring and summer.

Carr has been hurt for at least a small stretch in each of the last two seasons. Having Manuel in that spot might offer stability.

Gruden addressed last year’s backup quarterbacks last month at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Gruden on Manuel: “I think EJ is a young, talented guy,” Gruden said. “He’s been in the facility working out on his own every day. There is a bright upside to him, too, as a young quarterback to keep working with. He’s a free agent, but the Philadelphia Eagles proved that’s a pretty damn important position, isn’t it? Right? So we have to address that and see where we are.”

Gruden on Cook: “I am kind of surprised Connor hasn’t played in two years, other than the playoff game he got in as a rookie. After Derek got hurt last year, they turned the ball to EJ. I don’t know where Connor Cook is. I am frustrated right now that I can’t spend any time with him, but, April 9th (when the Raiders offeseason program starts) will be an exciting day for me and Connor Cook.”