NFL Draft 2023 Strategy and Free Agency Thoughts

Can you believe it’s already draft season? This offseason flew by. Now, the Vegas Raiders will try and turn their franchise around with one draft.

The Raiders own 12 picks in this draft. Four of those fall in the top-100. Vegas could add more if they find a trade partner for Hunter Renfrow. They could also move incumbent starters Andre James and Bilal Nichols for later picks if they want more cap space. Who knows? Maybe they trade a late pick to move Chandler Jones’ contract. The Rams found takers for Allen Robinson after all.

Rumors and Needs

It’s hard to predict exactly what the Raiders will do. They have needs on both sides of the ball. Their most immediate need is in the secondary. However, they could use upgrades along the offensive line, front-seven, quarterback, tight end, and backup running back.

A lot falls on what happens at the top of the NFL Draft. Rumors predict the Raiders moving up into the top-five picks to get a quarterback. That’s not a bad strategy if you believe the Raiders want to get the QB of the future.

The decision get harder if CJ Stroud or Bryce Young are available after those first two picks. New rumors say one of those could be available. Some rumors have had the Raiders moving up to No. 3. The Cardinals hold that pick and they don’t need a quarterback. Other speculation includes the Texans not taking a quarterback. Other rumors popped up that Stroud may tumble in the draft due to poor test scores in the draft process.

QB of the Future

Either way, Vegas must truly consider taking their QB of the future. Nobody wants to draft this high again. As much as I like Anthony Richardson or Hendon Hooker, I’m not sure either make sense in the top-10. Richardson will need some time to develop and he probably doesn’t fit the scheme. Hooker is off an injury so he may fall into the later rounds.

Vegas is probably better off taking their chances on a QB in the later rounds if Stroud or Young are gone. Some folks like Will Levis but I have more questions than answers. It also wouldn’t surprise me if Levis is off the board when the Raiders make their first selection.

I’m all for Vegas moving up if they really like one of the top-3 QBs. Stroud is my pick since he wants to be close to home and play with Adams. Raiders should take him if he’s there at No. 7, for sure.

However, they have to hit on that sort of gamble. Double the importance of the move up.

A lot Rides on the 2023 Draft

We’ve seen this show before. It’s hard to completely turn around a team in the draft. It’s even harder to do when you have to spend your top selection on a QB that needs a few years to develop.

Otherwise, Vegas should look at addressing their biggest needs on defense. A lot of mock draft feature the Raiders taking Christian Gonzalez out of Oregon or Devon Witherspoon out of Illinois. Either corner probably starts Day One.

Vegas needs an instant playmaker if they take a corner in the top-10. They need to get picks and matchup versus the top perimeter threats. The track record on taking corners is mixed for the league but it is bad for the Raiders.

This secondary class is deep enough that the Raiders don’t need to force the selection of a corner. Ky Blue Kelly and Mekhi Blackmon could compete if taken in the mid to late rounds.

Gonzalez or Witherspoon could be good for the Raiders. There’a also a chance neither is available. The chances of that happening only increases if these QB or OT needy teams go defense.

With the No. 7…

The same could be said for the defensive line. It’s hard to pass on a talent like Jalen Carter. The versatile defensive lineman is exactly what the Raiders need. It’s also hard to take him given his driving history plus the infamous Henry Ruggs III story.

Other defensive line options include Tyree Wilson. The Texas Tech edge was productive and could really learn behind Chandler Jones. They have similar size and athleticism. Wilson is honestly become one of my favorite options.

There’s also plenty of edge talent that could fall into the top of the second round. Vegas would be lucky to land Marcus Murphy or Nolan Smith in the second round. Isaiah Foskey, Derick Hall, Adetomiwa Adebawore, BJ Ojulari and Tuli Tuipulotu are more likely options in the second round. All that depth in this draft could mean Vegas looks elsewhere with No. 7.

KJ Henry, Zach Harrison and Byron Young are some other options in the third round. DJ Johnson is a guy I like in the later rounds. He has size and athleticism to develop into something. Scott Matlock is a defensive tackle I like with some sleeper athleticism. Jerrod Clark is also a nose tackle I like with some versatility to play along the offensive line. Either could crack the rotation late.

Ultimately, the Raiders have to go defense in the first round if they decide to punt on the top QBs. Considering they haven’t signed a veteran CB, it will most likely be a corner. However, I wouldn’t rule out Wilson. If both top Corners are gone, Vegas could also move back and target a player like Joey Porter Jr.

The Second Round

Vegas could also consider a tackle in the top round. Peter Skoronski is the consensus top tackle but he may get selected before the Raiders are on the clock. Paris Johnson out of OSU is also in the conversation. Considering we’re still recovering from Alex Leatherwood’s flop, I’d prefer to wait on adding a tackle.

The Raiders may wait for Darnell Wright, Anton Harrison or Broderick Jones to fall to them in the second round. Wayna Morris and Blake Freeland have some developmental potential in the later rounds.

Still, I think that option is unlikely since they brought back both Eluemunor and Brandon Parker. They also have Frank Herron and Thayer Munford at the at the position. Drafting a guard in the middle rounds is a more likely move to address the offensive line in my opinion.

Steve Avila, Terrance O’Cyrus, and John Michael Schmitz could all be gone in the first. Vegas could consider any of those options to upgrade their interior at the top of the draft. I like moving James for cap space and having Parham move back to center.

Cody Mauch and Matthew Bergeron are some players I also like upfront. Those two bring a little more versatility to play tackle. They may be available in the second round but probably not the third. John Gaines is another interior presence who might be on the board later.

Sidney Snow is another late round linemen to consider. He does have some injury questions to answer. Jake Andrews out of Temple is another versatile interior lineman who made some money in the Draft process.

Assuming the Raiders don’t take a QB, defense should be the priority in the first and second rounds. The second round should be the best player available in the secondary or defensive line (Whatever they didn’t take in the first round). Only because they can always find line help in the later rounds. My second round pick would be one of the top edge rushers like Foskey, Tuli, Harrison, Hall, or Adebawore. However, I could see them going offensive line if there is a guy they really like. Linebacker could also come into the conversation

Stickier Middle Rounds

The Raiders have had a major presence at all the All-Star games. It would not surprise me if they found a QB they like outside of the top-5 players at the position. I can see them taking Jake Haener, Stetson Bennett or Dorian Thompson-Robinson in the middle to late rounds. Jaren Hall or Malik Cunningham could be in play later too.

That means Vegas could also take a defensive player or offensive linemen in the third or fourth round. Daiyon Henley is a coverage linebacker I like. Dorian Williams has long arms and the speed to play in the NFL. There’s a chance neither are available in the third. Both could also be available in the third.

Marte Mapu is another one with the versatility to play safety. He’s slowly climbed up draft boards. Noah Sewell could be a later round option if Vegas wants an old-school thumper at LB. Aubrey Miller is another guy who made himself money in the later rounds. The important thing is finding someone who can compete right away.

Tyrique Stevenson is a corner I like in the second or third. He brings a good combination of size and speed on the outside. Antonio Johnson is a big slot corner with the production to go in the top of the second.

Sydney Brown has climbed up boards. His combination of size, speed and production last year also make him a target in the second or third round. He can play corner or safety. The challenge is this corner class is very deep. It’s hard to predict who goes where because there is so much talent at each level of the draft. Kelee Ringo is another name to watch from Mock Drafts in the second or third rounds at corner.

Those Two Third Round Picks

If the Raiders go pass rusher and DB with their top picks, their third pick should probably be the best lineman available regardless of position. A sleeper could be a tight end but again this class is deep and the Raiders could wait. Vegas could also take a RB or WR despite already having too many on the roster.

Then, the second third round pick should go to a linebacker or safety. Henley probably won’t be there but Miller and Williams could be. Mapu could be a reach but he fits the hybrid role.

I also wouldn’t rule out a safety. Vegas can probably wait to get a safety in the fourth or so.

In the later rounds. Daniel Scott and JL Skinner are some mid round safeties I like for the Raiders. Scott is a ball hawk from California. Skinner is also from Cali. He’s a big-hitter and a sleeper with his speed. He’s been mocked everywhere from the second to fifth round. Scott has been everywhere after the fourth.

The Rest of the Draft

Vegas absolutely needs to hit on those top picks in the first three rounds. It should come at their biggest positions of needs along all three levels of the defense. They should also look to protect their QB in those top-4 priorities. .

If they take a QB in the top-3 rounds then one of those needs should be an easy target in the fourth. I also wouldn’t rule them out from taking their favorite late round pick in the fourth. After that, they just need to take the best player available. Vegas needs depth and players who can push incumbents across the roster.

The next biggest teams needs are defensive tackle or tight end. It could also be along the offensive line depending on who they take with their top-4 picks. They may even double-up on corner, linebacker or safety if there is a player they like. Tight end is the wild card as the team could also use an upgrade, despite signing some veterans.

Based off my predictions, I probably draft a safety or corner in the fourth round. Maybe a tight end or quarterback if someone slipped through the cracks.

Then I’m looking at all defense and offensive line with those three fifth rounders. Close out the seventh with some developmental selections on the DL, secondary or tight end positions.

Free Agency Reaction

Not sure if I could have gotten the Raiders free agency more wrong. About the only thing I got right was the low-hanging fruit. The Raiders were obviously going to sign Jimmy G. They were obviously going to keep Jermaine Eluemunor, Alex Bars and Jerry Tillery It was also easy to predict Denzel Perryman, Clelin Ferrell and Mack Hollins finding more value on the open market.

The biggest surprise is the fact that the Raiders haven’t signed Duron Harmon or Rock Ya-Sin. Both were bright spots and neither should be too expensive. Vegas still needs playmakers in the secondary despite a couple of additions.

Quick Hits on Free Agency Signings

  • RB Josh Jacobs (franchise tag): He had his best season last year. Jacobs deserves a big payday after last year. However, running backs peak early and there is no telling how long Jacobs will sustain. I hope he doesn’t hold out but it might be in best to just let the one year play out. If Jacobs plays well, Vegas can pay him as some of that dead money finally comes off the books.
  • DT Jerry Tillery (re-signed): Why not? Showed some ability to get off the ball. Interested to see him after an offseason in the defense. Strong, big and athletic enough to play across the line. Knows the division.
  • QB Jimmy Garoppolo (3 years, $67.5 million): This always seemed like the most realistic option. My pops reminds no one thought much of Rich Gannon, either. I don’t know how good Jimmy G. Will be but his best chance is probably with McDaniels and a bunch of weapons. He can be a good bridge for the Raiders draft selection.
  • WR Jakobi Meyers (3 years, $33 million): Not the splash we wanted but should have been expected. Versatile to play inside or out. Compliments Adams and Renfrow well. Price could have been better. Gives them flexibility with Renfrow too. They can move his cap hit.
  • S Marcus Epps (2 years, $12 million): A bit of an over pay compared to some other players at the position. Not the big name we hoped for but fits the scheme and fills a role. Starting and playoff experience helps. Versatile too.
  • LB Robert Spillane (2 years, $7 million): Probably my least favorite move. Not a bad price but not a great one. Seems like a step back from Denzel Perryman. Could be pushed or replaced by a rookie or trade target. Still he fits their role as a run stopping backer.
  • CB Brandon Facyson (2 years, $6.5 million): Would have liked to see him back last year. Runs hot and cold but has some good experience and fits the scheme. Will contribute on special teams.
  • RB Ameer Abdullah (1 year, $1.7 million): He will be a key special teamed and backup again. Solid man and player at a fair price.
  • T Brandon Parker (1 year, $1.5 million): One more year of hope and one more shot to cash in on that potential. Parker is off an injury but he’s a big and athletic swing tackle. He can push Eluemunor for starting right tackle duties and back up Kolton Miller. Parker has to stay healthy though.
  • TE Jesper Horsted (re-signed): Why not? We need a Foster replacement. He should be in the mix unless he loses his job to a rookie.
  • G Netane Muti (re-signed): Signed late last year. Hurt. Let’s see it.
  • FB Jakob Johnson (1 year): Exceeded my expectations last year. A throw back full back at a cheap price.
  • S Roderic Teamer (re-signed): This guy hasn’t done much in his several stints with the team. Can’t hurt as a camp body and maybe a special teamer. Should give his reps to a player in the draft.
  • TE O.J. Howard: Low risk and high reward. He will compete with Austin Hooper for the Darren Waller or the Foster Moreau role. Vegas could also draft a tight end and down grade both vets they signed. Still, the Raiders value multiple tight end fronts. Let’s see if Howard can stick and sniff any of that potential.
  • WR Keelan Cole (1 year): I really like what the Raiders did at receiver. They added a lot of speed and will let them all compete. Cole made a few plays last year. He could contribute on special teams and fight for the fourth or fifth receiver slot.
  • TE Austin Hooper (1 year, $2.75 million): Vegas needed a vet tight end and this seems in their price range. Hooper has been really solid as a spot starter and key backup. He’s never had less than 35 catches since his rookie year. Him and Mayo should compete for a role.
  • G Alex Bars (1 year): Ended up starting last year. Deserves to be in the mix again this year but Vegas should look to upgrade in the draft.
  • WR Phillip Dorsett (1 year): Raiders camp battle for the fourth and fifth receiver
  • DT John Jenkins (1 year): A journey man.
  • CB David Long (1 year): I never like signing corners with no interceptions. He’s young and the Rams liked him. It’s another low risk and high reward for a player on the right side of 30. He should. I tribute on special teams too.
  • G/T Jermaine Elumunor (re-signed): He proved himself last year playing through injury. Eluemunor started at all four positions offensive line positions besides center. He got better as the year went on after starting the season as a backup. I like him better at guard so he doesn’t have to worry about speed. If Parker looks good, the Raiders can definitely utilize Eluemunor at guard.


  • LB Curtis Bolton (re-signed)
  • QB Brian Hoyer
  • WR Cam Sims (1 year)
  • DE Jordan Willis (1 year)
  • G Hroniss Grasu (1 year)
  • CB Duke Shelley (1 year)
  • S Jaquan Johnson (1 year)
  • Key Remaining Free Agents:
  • Anthony Averrett
  • Durin Harmon
  • Rock Ya-Sin

NFL Draft 2020: Trade Speculation and Full Mock Draft

It’s Draft Day.  No this ain’t a song and it won’t feel like that for a few Raiders on the chopping block or people who wanted to attend the event.

The Vegas Raiders were supposed to be the hometown favorites today. This draft was their official introduction to the city.

COVID-19 took all that away and now we watch as the event will be a more vintage fantasy draft like everything else that happens over zoom these days.

The spectacle is set for totally different reasons. We will see GMs flexing with ergo-dynamics and man caves. Front offices with the best communication and collaboration will thrive in this remote environment while more legacy clubs get exposed. Analytics are gonna be even more important to fill gaps left from less personal connections.

The Silver and Black will make waves through this draft with their five picks in the first three rounds. They are without a second round pick which also makes them a candidate to move back in the draft.

Remember, the Raiders don’t have late round selections either. Again, placing an incentive on why the Raiders should be active on the trade market throughout the Draft.

There are also rumors they could be in play for an edge rusher like Yannick Ngakoue but that remains to be seen. Trading our 19th pick Ngakoue wouldn’t even be bad given this draft class is deep but might not bring an instant spark like Ngakoue would to the Raiders defense. Obviously, it would be better if the Raiders could get him without forfeiting a Round One selection. That should be easier since he doesn’t want to be there but it depends on what other teams are offering.

Who can the Raiders trade Today?

Beyond their draft capital, let’s start at the top with Derek Carr. Moving Carr gets exponentially easier if the Raiders select a quarterback in the first three rounds. It also drops his trade value if the Raiders invest in a rookie quarterback since they already are paying Marcus Mariota a lot of money to be a veteran bridge and high quality backup. The Raiders would be lucky to get a second or third round pick for Carr which is probably why they will hold onto him for another season.

We also can’t forget Gabe Jackson who is the other player remaining from that 2014 Draft Class. Jackson is still a starting caliber guard and he never received his due. However, his contract and injuries make it easier to move on.

Many thought he would have already been a cap casualty. Either way, Raiders will probably try to draft an interior linemen in the middle rounds like they did Jackson. This will give Incognito a mentee and someone to push Jackson or Denzelle Good. At the very least, drafting someone makes it that much easier to dump Jackson for a late found pick.

Then, there’s the holdovers. We’ve heard talks about P.J. Hall on the trade block. How about Arden Key?

Neither player has really lived up to their draft bills or potential. They were supposed to be high risk, high reward picks in their draft. Now, they’re looking more like additional Reggie McKenzie scraps about to be thrown over board at the highest bidder.

Both guys flash occasionally and that should be enough to warrant a fifth, sixth or seventh round pick for either or both. Look at a team who values length on the edges and strength in the interior as trade partners. How about other defenses cut from the Zimmer tree? The Patriots always love making the most of draft busts on the low… how about the Dolphins who employ McKenzie and hold a plethora of picks? All these teams make sense as a draft partner for Key or Hall.

Then, there’s Tyrell Williams and LaMarcus Joyner. Both were big free agency grabs last offseason. Now, their contracts look over priced. Williams and Joyner were both leaned on by their units last year. They flashed at times but other times it was a “you paid this guy that” situations?

You can’t put all the blame on them but they certainly weren’t saviors. My point is, the Raiders probably keep these guys another year due to their investment and the fact that no one is lining up to pay those salaries. Not to mention, Williams should improve with an alpha receiver opposite him. Joyner should improve with a much stronger overall defense around them. Their roles as strong complimentary starters is what earned them these big contracts after all.

Full Seven Round Mock Draft

Obviously, this entire projection gets blown up if the Raiders make one or two trades. Either way, my only intent was to make the Raiders better with every pick. They still need a lot of talent upgrades so finding players who can push for starting jobs sooner than later ensures they pack out their new home stadium.

Round One (12): WR CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma

Whether the Raiders take their QB of the future today or next year, they need to find him a pass catcher. Las Vegas lucked out and found one of the best receivers in the Draft available at 13. This pick gets harder if a top corner is available too.

Either way, you could make a case for Lamb as the most physical receiver in this class. His YAC potential is through the roof. It doesn’t hurt that he comes from one of the top programs in the nation last year too.

Round One (19): LB Patrick Queen, LSU

Again, the Raiders proved last year they will poach the best teams in College as an effort to build a winning culture. This time they grab a defensive playmaker to compliment what they did in free agency by signing two marquee free agents for the other starting roles.

Queen would play weakside backer for the Raiders. Although they signed two coverage backers this offseason, adding Queen might mean they can finally cover tight ends as well as stuff the run.

Round Three (80): S Kyle Dugger, Lenoir-Rhyne

I know it’s tough to imagine Gruden spending two of his three first picks on defense but the Raiders defense is that bad. Yes, they have Abram coming back and signed Damarious Randall to provide depth at corner and safety with Joyner.

There are questions about his competition level but he showed his athleticism and instincts translate at the Senior Bowl. He can play either safety spot as well as special teams early.  Still, Dugger is a developmental player with traits to be a real boom for Vegas as they need playmakers on defense.

Round Three (81): QB Jacob Eason, Washington

Eason is a real wild card in this draft. Nonetheless, the Raiders and Gruden get a quarterback with the size, athleticism and arm strength to play on Sundays. He is a decent enough athlete too.

Of course, Eason comes with questions about his ability to handle pressure.  That shouldn’t be anything a quarterback guru like Gruden can’t work with, right? We’ve seen him take gambles on QBs with less obvious skill sets.

Round Three (91): OL Rober Hunt, Louisiana

Hunt was the best guard available at this point. He’s a big physical prospect who can develop under whoever the Raiders start at guard as well as push for time immediately due to his size and athleticism. Either way, this would not be a bad pick at all.

Round Four (121): DB Michael Ojemudia, Iowa

Again, the Raiders need versatile and productive players as they continue trying to make that defense competent. Ojemudia is a solid pick up with 6 interceptions since 2018. He still needs to refine his technique and instincts but he offers top end traits that make him worth this selection.

Round Five (160): RB Darrynton Evans, App St.

Finally, running back is a real wild card in this draft. The corps is deep but how they rank and where the position overall ranks in the NFL depends on who you ask. Either way, Evans was highly productive at Appalachian State. He has the size and speed to play all three downs but projects as a change of pace and outside runner initially. That might seem redundant with the what the Raiders already have at the position but Evans would be a nice in-between for Jacobs and Richard. You can also never have enough running backs, especially with Jacobs battling shoulder injuries at the end of the last season.


Ultimately, everything is on the board for today’s NFL Draft. It will be memorable because it is the first remote draft and the first time the Vegas Raiders are officially on the clock. However, it should also go down in history as the draft that finally made the Raiders a contender. Right?

2019 Raiders Draft Notes from Petty Pete

All bets are off this year for the Raiders draft. No one can really accurately predict what will happen since this is Mike Mayock’s first draft with skin in the game. Not to mention, the Silver and Black and Jon Gruden are always a wildcard.

Here’s what I’m expecting from the Raiders draft.

A trade

Everyone is talking about Oakland’s four picks in the top-35. That’s fine but the team doesn’t have a third or sixth round pick thanks to the Antonio Brown trade. I don’t expect Gruden or Mayock to stay pat with idle thumbs.

That means a player like Justin Ellis, Eddie Vanderdoes, Karl Joseph or another holdover might here their name called in a trade for some mid-round draft compensation. This team is fully in on out with the old and in with the new so I don’t expect the draft to be any different.

Moreover, they could also trade up or trade back. Either of those scenarios are realistic because the Raiders have so much capital and so many needs. Still, I’d side on adding more picks since this team is desperate for help at the starting and depth positions.

An elite defensive player

I don’t care if it is fourth or twenty-four, the Raiders got to get them a player to build their defense around. Devin White, Quinnen Williams, Nick Bosa or Josh Allen would all be vast upgrades early. However, a top-end talent like Montez Sweat, Rashan Gary, Devin Bush, Clelin Ferrell, Ed Oliver or Christian Wilkins all could be top-10 talents too. They have more questions than the first group but they would definitely be steals if the Raiders wait to select one in the twenties or trade into the teens. Even at the top of the second, they might find an impact player like Nasir Adderly, Rock Ya-Sin or any number of DBs who can make an instant impact.

Playmakers across the board

Speaking of playmakers, I said this last year and we walked away with a bunch of hoggies. That’s cool and all but this year the Raiders need playmakers on every level of their defense. They could also afford to add some explosive help around Derek Carr. Regardless of position, the Raiders need to take some productive players with high-upside who can develop into big-time playmakers. It really doesn’t matter the position.

Still, I like Noah Fant or any of the tight ends early. I wouldn’t rule out a RB like Josh Jacobs or Miles Sanders. X-Factors like A.J. Brown, D.K. Metcalf, Hollywood Brown and others might be too good to pass up.


No, I don’t expect Haskins or Murray to the Raiders. I know that hype continues building but please don’t put ass through another young-QB development phase. Still, I think the Raiders take a QB. Their backups don’t exactly jump out of any page except draft busts. I could easily see the old-school Mayock and Gruden taking some sort of QB in the draft. Tyree Jackson could be a steal late or how about Will Grier in the middle rounds? Their nowhere polished but they could develop into something if you believe in Gruden’s genius.

We will find out what a Raider is…

Above all else, I believe we’ll find out what Raider in 2019 looks like. Mayock had that quote early in the offseason talking about how he and Gruden were working together to see what culture they want to build and what players fit that.

After tonight, we’ll have a much better idea what that means in for the Silver and Black. So far, we’ve seen them sign overrated Trent Brown, wild-ass A.B., Vontaze Burfict and a bunch of other experienced veterans like Crowell. There really isn’t a lower common denominator in that equation. However, we’ll have a better idea what that looks like after tonight.

More Questions

Overall, it will be interesting to see how the Raiders attack the defensive line, offensive line and secondary in this draft. Is the team still high on Gareon Conley and Joseph or is it time to ship them out and/or find their replacement?

Oakland addressed the offensive line in free agency but they still need depth and maybe a guard… Oh yea, don’t forget all that draft capital they put into the offensive and defensive line the past few seasons. Does Mayock and Gruden still value those guys like Arden Key, PJ Hall or Kolton Miller? I expect one if not all may compete for playing time (not just starting time) this year.

Moreover, how do politics factor into this draft? Will Oakland accept Nick Bosa if that’s the pick?

Tune in to the Draft all this weekend. It should be a hell of a ride. Hopefully the Raiders don’t burn a third round pick for a receiver with question marks or give anyone a franchise QB for basically nothing, cough 2018 draft.

Check out my full seven-round Mock Draft too.

Grading the Raiders 2018 Draft class

It’s easy to give the Raiders a middle of the road grade for the 2018 NFL Draft. Their draft has a high amount of risk but they managed to find some good value propositions in the middle round.

The biggest takeaway from the Raiders 2018 NFL Draft is that you cannot grade it in a vacuum. You got to look at the bigger picture considering this is Jon Gruden’s first time heading the NFL Draft in a decade. He and Reggie McKenzie made some selections that were gambles and they reached for players but you can’t get caught up in each pick. Look at the draft class as a whole and you’ll be far less disappointed

Team Needs

Oakland specifically addressed the trenches. Kolton Miller and Brandon Parker were the tackles selected in the first three rounds. Not surprising, considering Vandal Alexander is starting the season suspended, Donald Penn is over 30 and been hurt the past two seasons and the RT position has been a joke the past two seasons. Oakland needed some tackle help and hopefully, they found it. The Raiders also took defensive tackle PJ Hall and edge Arden Key to infuse some disruption along the defensive line.

Miller was inconsistent in college. Key has Off-field issues. Hall and Parker are underrated prospects who will need some time adjusting to the change in speed and strength at the NFL level. However, that’s the case with most of these picks.

Sixth round pick and linebacker Azeem Victor is another high-risk player. Victor had an off1field DUI and there are also questions about his speed and size in the NFL. Then, there’s Nick Nelson who is recovering from an off-field injury. Both LB and DB were some of the Raiders biggest needs but they waited until the last part of the draft.

Oakland’s biggest draft needs are addressed to an extent. That depends on how ready these players are to contribute on Day One.


Above all else, the Raiders needed to find playmakers on both sides of the ball in this draft. On offense, that meant finding big-play threats. On defense, that meant sacks and picks.

They found a player like Maurice Hurst who can develop into an inside playmaker on the defensive line. He can get sacks. Hall and Key can too. Thus, I can give the team a pass for not selecting Harold Landry when they had a chance in the second round.

However, picks are another story. Nick Nelson is a nice prospect but he had zero picks in college. The Raiders need a defensive back who can take the ball away because we all remember how miserable it was not having a pick through more than half the season. For context, Oakland passed on CB/Safety Josh Jackson as well as safeties Josh Jackson and Justin Reid who would’ve given the Raiders some playmakers in the defensive backfield.

Moreover, they waited until the last round to select an offensive skill player. They took Hall three picks before Derrius Guice. Guice is considered a copy of Marshawn Lynch and he would have been the perfect heir to Beast Mode. The LSU product is a balanced runner and pass catcher with first-round ability who may haunt the Raiders.

Don’t forget the Raiders traded a third-round pick to get Martavis Bryant. That’s literally the pickup that saved this draft class from a playmaking standpoint.


You could argue the Raiders took Miller and Parker way too high. They were probably the most overdrafted of this class, but the tackle position was bad. It makes sense that Oakland took these picks. P.J. Hall was a little high of a selection too especially since he’s from a small school. However, there were rumors of him getting selected that high even with other good d-linemen on the board. With his film and body type, the Raiders get a pass for making the selection.

Added, the Raiders found Arden Key, Marcell Ateman and Maurice Hurst way lower than most expected. Those three picks balanced out the value proposition of this draft class. Victor and Nelson were selected at the spots they were expected so that makes the Raiders even in terms of finding value.


We were all looking at this draft to see how Gruden would build his team. It is clear he wants to start with a physical team on both lines.

Further, it is clear that Gruden’s regime doesn’t care where a player plays or what they did as long as they can play. That is evident by the off-field red flags from Key and Victor, the injury concerns of Nelson and Hurst and the small school pedigrees of Hall and Parker. Even Miller had questions about his consistency and Ateman had questions about his speed.

Ultimately, Gruden wants to take players he thinks can compete regardless of the context they come with. He also isn’t afraid of getting away from conventional thinking. Guden isn’t afraid to let draft picks compete with each other or replace a prominent player from the previous regime. We knew that already but now it is confirmed.

The Bigger Picture

Hopefully, Gruden is right and all these players compete. He doesn’t have a lot of time to wait for players to develop, deal with off-field concerns or let players get healthy. Gruden needs this rookie class to step-in and compete as well as provide depth now and into the future.

Either way, the Raiders found at least two starters in the NFL Draft. Hurst and Hall will both compete for starter roles on the interior defensive line. Parker and Miller will compete for starting roles on the offensive line. More than likely, only one rookie will start on either line.

Not to mention, Key and Ateman can compete for starting time immediately. That means the Raiders got two starters and four key depth players. They got Victor and Nelson who might compete down the line and Bryant is an added bonus.

Big picture, the Raiders had a solid draft class by balancing out some of their earliest reaches with the best player on the board towards the end of the draft.

The point is, if you look at the Raiders from a holistic approach you will find yourself much more pleased.

The Raiders get a C+ for this year’s draft but it can easily turn into a B+ if these guys start immediately.


Oakland Raiders outlook for Round Two and Round One reaction

What are the Raiders best options in day two of the NFL draft?

You can’t talk about the second round without talking about the first round.Kolton Miller was the Raiders Day One pick. It’s surprising since Miller would usually be a Day Two pick. However, this year’s tackle class is so bad that Miller going this high makes sense. He’s the consensus 2-4 ranked tackle throughout this draft process. Miller brings the athleticism to play left tackle down the line. He has the UCLA production to compete for play at RT immediately. The biggest knock on Miller is his consistency and toughness. Not to mention, his QB Josh Rosen was often hurt and the entire UCLA team under achieved.Either way, the Raiders filled a need at the top of the draft. They get a player who had the potential to improve both the running and passing offense.

Trading back

That wasn’t even the biggest surprise of Day One. Oakland trades back five spots and got a third and fifth round pick in the exchange. They sent that third round pick to the Steelers for Martavis Bryant.

Bryant is a legit deep threat. He’s an explosive option to have as your second or third receiver. Bryant is an upgrade over Seth Roberts.

However, the Raiders essentially let the Cardinals into the top ten and handed them a franchise QB for an added third round pick and fifth round pick. The Packers moved back 13 spots, got a first round pick and then flipped that 27 pick and some more draft capital to get the 18 pick. Green Bay got their guy Jaire Alexander and an added first rounder for next year. Oakland couldn’t do this? Maybe, the organization shouldn’t hint at trading back all offseason which gave away their leverage.

Round two

Either way, the Raiders still have some great players to consider in round two. Harold Landry makes sense as a dynamic pass rusher. Derrius Guice is a physical and balanced runner. Both of those players could be steals at this point.

There’s rumors that Oakland could take another offensive tackle to continue the rebuild of their line. Connor Williams, Tyrell Crosby and Will Hernandez are some of the top offensive linemen left but they’re more of guards in the NFL. Will Oakland reach for Brian O’Neil, Geron Christian or Orlando Brown who are more traditional tackles?

Defensive back makes sense for the Raiders too. Justin Reid and Ronnie Harrison make sense as versatile, athletic and productive safeties. Isaiah Oliver makes sense as an instant nickel back with a chance to compete on the outside. Josh Jackson is a hybrid safety and corner who many thought would go in the first round.

Speaking of offense, Linebacker should also come into consideration. How about Malik Jefferson or Uchenna Nwosu?

Otherwise, Ronald Jones is a super shifty back and Nick Chubb is another back to consider.

There are also some tight ends like Mike Gesicki and Mark Andrews. They’re dual threat TEs who might be gone after this round considering Hayden Hurst went in the first round.

This is a very interesting draft. The market is much different than people expected especially since Cleveland threw everyone off with Baker Mayfield at No. 1 overall.

Added, Oakland proved they’ll make an unpopular pick. Gruden clearly has a vision for this team and it isn’t yet clear. I’d assume he wants to be physical upfront and take his shots deep which has always been the Raiders forward. Therefore, I’m leaning towards a RB in round two. Guice makes too much sense as the heir to Marshawn Lynch this year and in the future. He’s a physical runner and does a ton of community work.

If he’s gone, Oakland needs a playmaker on the defensive side. They need to look for sacks or picks. Landry or Jackson makes sense for that spot since they’ve been among CFB’s elite the past season. Oliver, Jefferson and Nwosu wouldn’t upset me either though. Realistically, we can’t rule out another trade back either. Anything is possible especially if talent keeps falling. The Raiders have the assets in the fifth and six round to pair with their second to move back into the second and grab a third or fourth rounder in the process. We will see what happens tonight!

Who will the Raiders select on Day One of the NFL Draft

Who will the Raiders Draft in the 2018 NFL Draft?

I don’t think the Silver and Black even know. The dynamic between Jon Gruden and Reggie McKenzie is still too new. This is there first draft together and it will be a trial to how they work together and find prospects that fit Gruden’s scheme and culture. As we know, Gruden brings a unique culture and scheme that is different than any coach McKenzie has drafted before.

Either way, rumors and speculation is that the Raiders will trade back in the NFL Draft. They’ve both hinted towards it all offseason. There is even smoke about them trading up to get Bradley Chubb. That isn’t likely since Oakland loves their draft picks.

Still, Chubb is the guy if he is there at No. 10. The same goes for Saquan Barkley. The talent is too real to pass on no matter what. Their availability depends on if teams are really buying the QB hype.

Nonetheless, Cubb and Barkley won’t be around and it is expected that the Raiders will be considering top defensive prospects like Derwin James, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Denzel Ward, Tremaine Edmunds, Vita Vea, Marcus Davenport and Roquan Smith.

Fitzpatrick, James and Ward are all top talents but their positions are deep in this draft class. Oakland can wait til later, especially since they’ve taken corners and safeties in the past couple of drafts. The same can be said for selecting Vea or Davenport. Both are great talents but the Raiders already invest draft capitol at their positions.

Edmunds and Smith make the most sense based on need. The Raiders have needed backers for years. With Bruce Irvin converting to pass rusher, the need is even bigger. Both or neither may be there depending on how many QBs and DBs go in the top-10. Oakland may consider trading out if both Smith and Edmunds are there or gone. Harold Landry is my darkhorse due to his athleticism. He might be a little too raw to go this high though.

Nonetheless, don’t rule out an offensive player. It would be a very Raiders move to take an offensive player when all the experts think you’re going defense. Oakland put the last two first rounders on offense and they might invest this one in some help for Derek Carr and Gruden.

Donald Penn ain’t getting any younger and right tackle has been a joke. This team is built from the inside out too.

Thus, we’ve been hearing rumors about Kolton Miller or Mike McGlinchey being the No. 10 pick. Both are athletic and productive enough to play either tackle position. McGlinchey is a little tougher so he projects as a starting right tackle sooner. However, Miller has more athleticism which could make him a better LT down the line.

Taking a tackle makes sense since this team is built inside out. It’s an easy way to help Carr, boost the running and passing game. This class isn’t that deep at the position which is why they may reach a bit for a tackle like Miller or McGlinchey who might be better values a little later in the first round.

Speaking of reaches, Calvin Ridley and Derius Guice should also come into consideration at No. 10. This is especially true if the top defensive players on the Raiders boards are gone. However, neither Ridley or Guice play positions of glaring need. They don’t have the elite athleticism to really even be taken this high but they’re proven gamers who have great production for huge programs.

Ridley is a smooth receiver who can do a bit of everything. He is Amari Cooper light. Meanwhile, Guice is a physical beast who can run and catch with anger. He is a Marshawn Lynch light. That makes both Ridley and Guice great scheme and culture fits even if they aren’t the top talents overall or fill a position of need.

Added, the WR and RB classes are deep but Ridley and Guice are definitely in the top tier with a big gap ahead of their competition. It would not surprise me if Gruden wanted either of these guys. There is the slight chance they fall into the second or the Raiders can get them later.

Ultimately, the Raiders can do any number of things on Draft Day. I’d be happy if they took any of the aforementioned players. McGlinchey or Edmunds would be my pick based on need. Ridley or Guice would be my pick based on playmaking. Roquan and Davenport make sense for value. Miller and Landry have the upside to go that high. Ward, Fitz and James wouldn’t hurt the team at all.

Oakland is expected to pick around 6:40 PM PST so make sure you tune in.

Raiders Draft: Who to pick in Round One? 

It’s finally here! It seems like I say that every year. Well, every year I’m excited for the NFL Draft. Dreams are made, fans hopes are up and many hearts get broken. Sounds pretty exciting, if you ask me.

Who will our precious Silver and Black select? Here are some ideas as well as my selection.

The Fans’ Pick: Obi Melifonwu, S, UCONN

All the fans love this pick. For good reason too. Melifonwu is the kind of prospect who Al Davis will turn in his grave for. The big-bodied and fast safety made a name for him self at the NFL Combine and Senior Bowl. Melifonwu Los has experience as a productive corner and safety at UCONN. He could develop into Reggie Nelson’s eventual replacement. The only issue with this pick is that the safety class is so deep. The Raiders could get a guy just as capable in the second round.

The Dark Horse: Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama

You never want to reach for a need in the NFL Draft. However, Robinson has an argument to be the best tackle in this class. He has big game experience that dates back to his days at Bama. Robinson has the size and athleticism to be the long-term answer at either of the Raiders’ tackle spots. Ultimately, there are some questions about his ability to finish run blacks and his balance/technique in pass pro. Luckily, the Raiders have some veterans at the position to help groom Robinson. Personally, I think Robinson is a better value in round two. Nonetheless, Mike Mayock pegged him here. 

Draft Crush: Kevin King, CB, Washington

Everytime we play the Chiefs, I believe that Marcus Peters should be a Raider. His play style and swagger would have fit perfect with Oakland. Now, King isn’t quite the same player as Peters. However, he is a big and fast corner from the Bay Area. King played safety and corner at Washington so he brings the versatility that the Raiders need. He should immediately challenge for the nickel corner position. King might even challenge David Amerson and Sean Smith for starting roles on the outside. King has the size and ball skills to develop into the Raiders eventual starter on the outside. He might not be available at No. 24, but it would be really hard for the Raiders to pass on the Bay Area kid.

The Gamble: Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama

Draft experts have nothing bad to say about Foster’s tape out of Alabama. However, he could fall to the Raiders due to off-field concerns. Foster had an incident that got him sent home from the NFL Combine. He also tested positive at the Combine. Then, he’s got size and injury concerns. Plus, Oakland is still haunted by the demons of another former Bama linebacker taken in the first round, Rolando McClain. I say no but the Raiders may roll the dice.

The Al Davis Pick: John Ross,  WR, Washington

Questions about his size, ankle, knee and shouler health could make Ross tumble in the draft. You think Al Davis would care about any of that? Ross broke the NFL Combine record for the 40-yard dash with a sub-4.3 40-time. Not to mention, he was highly productive at Washington. Ross’ route tree is extensive, his hands are good and he is Cali-native. Al Davis would make this pick despite the Raiders’ receiving corps already being among the NFL’s best.

The Safe Pick: Jarrad Davis, LB, Florida

Davis has been another popular target for the Raiders in various Mock Drafts. There are a lot of good reasons. Davis was productive at Florida and he tested well at the combine. He projects as an outside or middle linebacker in the NFL, despite his limited size. Oakland would sure up their middle linebacker spot with a rangy backer. However, I’m not sold on taking a MLB this early unless you think he can change your defense. Davis will be a solid starter but I don’t know if he is a future Pro Bowler. I’d roll the dice on him in the second round, especially given his injury history.

My Pick: Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt 

Early in the draft process, I was high on the Raiders selecting Davis. Cunningham’s scheme fit, speed and hands had me questioning his fit with Oakland. Then, I remember that the Raiders defense has not been good enough to establish a scheme. There scheme is flexible for the players that they select. Moreover, Jack Del Rio and Reggie McKenzie have both put empathisis on selecting impact players. Cunningham was a productive, impact player in the SEC. he has the size and frame to play a variety of positions in the front seven. Moreover, he is ready to start from Day One. This pick makes too much sense. BR’s Matt Miller also consigned this pick in his latest mock draft.

Ultimately, we will find out who the Raiders select at about 8:00 p.m. PST tonight. Who do you think they should select? I know I can’t wait to welcome the newest member of the Silver and Black.

2017 NFL Combine: Draft Prospects to Watch For Raiders

The NFL Scouting Combine is often referred to the grandest job interview, a reality TV show and the Underwear Olympics.

Either way, the 2017 Combine is underway as NFL Draft prospects prepare to test on the field this week.

For the Oakland Raiders, they are in a new position. Oakland is coming off their first playoff berth in more than a decade. Hence, they do not have too many glaring needs after a 12-4 season.

They do need to work on a defense that ranked No. 26 in yards per game, registered the least amount of sacks in the league and gave up the most points per game in the NFL. Look for them to think about adding a defensive tackle, corner, safety and inside linebacker to improve this unit. Not to mention, defensive contributors like Malcolm Smith, Perry Riley Jr. and Stacy McGee are free agents. They will need to be replaced or upgraded.

The Silver and Black could also use some help on offense. Key reserves (and sometimes starters) like Menelik Watson, Seth Roberts, Andre Holmes, Mychal Rivera and Latavius Murray are all free agents. These players could be re-signed and maintained for depth options. Either way, the Raiders must evaluate the receivers, tight end and running back positions for athe long-term value that surpasses the above-mentioned names.

Oakland has constantly preached about building a winning culture. They must do that by upgrading underachieving or mediocre players. Here are some players the Raiders should evaluate at Indy. These players make sense from a scheme, production and value perspective towards the top of the 2017 NFL Draft.

Running Back

  • Leonard Fournette
  • Dalvin Cook
  • Joe Mixon
  • D’onta Foreman
  • JeremMcNichols
  • Kareem Hunt
  • Alvin Kamara
  • Donnel Pumphrey


  • Cooper Kupp
  • Zay Jones
  • Carlos Henderson
  • Chad Hansen
  • Juju Smith-Schuster
  • Curtis Samuel
  • Isaiah Ford
  • Noah Brown
  • Dede Westbrook
  • Amar Dorboh
  • Travin Dural


  • Cam Robinson
  • Garrett Bolles
  • Dion Dawkins
  • Antonio Garcia
  • Roderick johnson
  • Julie’n Davenport
  • Conor McDermott
  • Jermaine Eluemunor
  • Avery Gennesy

Defensive Line

  • Jonathan Allen
  • Montravius Adams
  • Caleb Brantley
  • Malik McDowell
  • Elijah Quails
  • Chris Wormley
  • Carlos Watkins
  • Jaleel Johnson


  • Taco Charlton
  • Charles Harris
  • Derek Barnett
  • Takearist McKinley
  • Ryan Anderson
  • Carl Lawson
  • Joe Mathis
  • Tim Williams


  • Reuben Foster
  • HaasonReddick
  • Jarrad Davis
  • Zach Cunningham
  • Raekwon McMillan
  • Vince Biegel
  • Kendell Beckwith
  • Duke Riley
  • Alex Anzalone
  • Ben Boulware


  • Teez Tabor
  • Tre’Davious White
  • Marlon Humphrey
  • Adoree’ Jackson
  • Cordrea Tankersley
  • Fabian Moreau
  • Chidobe Awuzie
  • Jordan Lewis
  • Rasul Douglas
  • Howard Wilson
  • Kevin King
  • Cameron Sutton
  • Corn Elder
  • Marquez White
  • Ahkella Witherspoon
  • Channing Stribling


  • Budda Baker
  • Justin Evans
  • Marcus Williams
  • Desmond King
  • Marcus Maye

Granted, these are only lists. Of course, the Raiders will monitor all 300 prospects at the 2017 NFL Combine. Nonetheless, here is a short list of high-profile names at our positions of needs. Did I forget anybody?

What players are you watching closely at the 2017 NFL Combine? Let us know via Twitter.


Reviewing the Oakland Raiders NFL Draft


The Oakland Raiders entered the draft with most of their starters set, but glaring needs for depth across the roster. How did they do with their picks? Why did they make the selections that they did?

Jack Del Rio and Reggie McKenzie shared insights onto their picks. As a bonus, I’ve also recapped my thoughts on the picks since the dust settled on the NFL Draft.

S Karl Joseph, West Virginia (No. 14 overall)
McKenzie: “You can feel his toughness. He has a very aggressive mentality. He’s versatile. He can play all over the field, and he’ll run and hit anything that moves.”

Del Rio: “We just think he’s a really good football player, and he’ll have an infectious kind of personality and demeanor about himself. So, [we’re] really excited to get our hands on him and looking forward to working with him.”

My take: Initially felt like the Raiders reached on a 5’11 strong safety coming off of a knee injury. However, the Falcons took Keanu Neal at No. 17, so the safety position was in demand. Heard nothing but good things about Jospeh’s mental processing and competitive toughness. His selection fills the biggest gap on the roster. Excited to see what he can do. 

DL Jihad Ward, Illinois (No. 44 overall)
Del Rio: “ He has played all the way out as a nine technique all the way down to into a three technique. He has been exposed to a lot of football. And, defensive line is not as complex as playing quarterback. We think we can help him grow as a player and we like what we are starting with.”

My take: Again, felt like the Raiders reached for Ward. I liked some of the other defensive tackles like Andrew Billings and Jonathan Bullard on the board at this point. However, Ward is extremely versatile. Not only did he play across the d-line at Illinois, but he played safety and receiver at the lower levels. Ward brings top-level athleticism which will push Mario Edwards Jr. and the rest of the defensive unit. Glad they took someone to improve the depth in the pass rush. 

Edge rusher Shilique Calhoun, Michigan State (No. 75 overall)
Del Rio: “He’s a very productive young man, really understands how to rush the quarterback. He’s been an All-American and he’s been a very productive guy at a good college program. ”

My take: Calhoun was a great value at this point in the draft. Even though the Raiders took Ward, they should use Calhoun as a hybrid linebacker. He should learn a lot behind Khalil Mack and Aldon Smith. I hope he can improve coverage skills as he may need to play some Sam linebacker. Either way, I like players like Calhoun who showed lots of leadership and production for winning programs in college. 

QB Connor Cook, Michigan State (No. 100 overall)
McKenzie: “ “Derek (Carr)’s our quarterback. Whoever we bring in, we’re just looking [at] can he help us? Can he add to the depth? Can he help our team? That was the only reason we went after him. Leadership issues, that was of no concern.”

My take: Again, this was a case of selecting the best player available. The Raiders traded up and got a player that could develop into some nice trade bait. Regardless, the Raiders only have Matt McGloin under contract for this season. Hence, there was a need to develop a backup quarterback. Cook brings production and a solid NFL arm to the Raiders scout team.

RB DeAndre Washington, Texas Tech (No. 143 overall)
McKenzie: “He’s the one guy that every time we watched him play, it was very difficult for the first guy to get him down. He had power, quickness and he had speed. He was the kind of the guy that can do it all. ”

My take: I liked some other running backs in this draft like Paul Perkins. However, everyone talks about Washington’s versatility. Remember the Raiders got Latavius Murray late in the draft. Maybe they struck gold again in Washington. He will push Taiwan Jones and Roy Helu for playing time early.

LB Cory James, Colorado State (No. 194 overall)
McKenzie: “He has played a lot of positions. We’ll see. For the beginning, we’ll let him play off the ball and see if he can play weakside linebacker, teach him both inside linebacker spots, and nickel. But he’s definitely going to have to try to make his money on special teams.”

My take: At this point in the draft, teams look for special teams guys who might develop into something more. James fills that role. Seems like a quality athlete with a decent motor. I trust Reggie McKenzie, Jack Del Rio and Ken Norton Jr. when it comes to linebackers. The Raiders did well with Neiron Ball and Ben Heeney, last year. 

OL Vadal Alexander, Louisiana State (No. 234 overall)
McKenzie: “(I was surprised he slipped in the draft), because big guys, they usually get taken. We felt really good about that and we like big people. He’s going to work both (guard and tackle). The versatility is what we liked about him.”

My take: The Raiders got lucky at this point. They found a big body and versatile player in the final round. He also fills the depth need on the offensive line with experience at guard and tackle. Plus, all that I’ve read says that he should have gotten drafted way earlier than this. 

*All quotes via Scott Bair.

Oakland Raiders need Robert Nkemdiche

The Raiders passed on Leonard Williams last year, because they needed targets for Derek Carr. With the offense now in place, the Raiders need Robert Nkemdiche.

Don’t get me wrong. I like Sheldon Rankins. He played across the entire Louisville defensive line. Rankins dominated the Senior Bowl and performed well at the NFL Combine.

However, he is no Robert Nkemdiche.

In fact, there are not a lot of Nkemdiches. He is a specimen that only comes around every few years. A chiseled, interior linemen that runs a 4.87 40-yard-dash. He also dominated the eventually champions, Alabama.

The biggest knock on Nkemdiche: off-field character concerns. He also has some concerns with motor and work-ethic.

I get it. General Manager Reggie McKenzie built this Raiders team with high-quality and productive players. Nkemdiche does not fit that mold thanks to a stupid incident that involved him falling out of a second-story building and then snitching on Laremy Tunsil at the combine.

Yet the Raiders built a culture that Nkemdiche will not become a distraction in. He can learn from a troubled player like Aldon Smith.

More importantly, Nkemdiche will dominate on the Raiders. He can play beside Khalil Mack as a 3 tech. or two-gapping 5 tech. The Raiders can then use Mario Edwards Jr. at his natural position at end. Or they can rotate the two.

Take a look at the defenes Jack Del Rio participated in as a coach.

Baltimore, Carolina, Jacksonville and Denver all had playmakers on the defensive line. Expect Del Rio to carry that philosophy into Oakland. The group is already good, but they will become great with Nkemdiche in the rotation with Justin Ellis, Denico Autry, Dan Williams, Mario Edwards Jr. and a few more.

Unless Myles Jack falls, the Raiders should not pass on Nkemdiche.

Some mock drafts have the Raiders going corner, linebacker, running back or tackle in the draft. The Raiders can find a starter at any of those positions with No. 14. However, they can only find a dominate player like Nkemdiche there because of his off-field concerns.

The Raiders can address those other needs at later points. They can still find value at RB, LB, CB, and S in the middle rounds. That may be true for DT as well, but none will make the impact Nkemdiche can.