Oakland Raiders

Raiders mock drafts: With an offense full of stars, Oakland should think defense

A few analysts say Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward would be a nice fit for the Raiders with the No. 10 pick in this year's NFL draft.
A few analysts say Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward would be a nice fit for the Raiders with the No. 10 pick in this year's NFL draft. The Associated Press

The Raiders seem to be in good shape on offense.

With a number of Pro Bowl players on that side of the ball, including quarterback Derek Carr and three offensive linemen, Oakland could be in position to score a lot of points.

Where the Raiders could use some help is defense – and all draft analysts sampled here agree. They were 20th in points surrendered and 23rd in yards allowed per game.

The Raiders, who went 6-10 last season, have the 10th pick in the draft, which kicks off its first round April 26 at the Dallas Cowboys' AT&T Stadium. Here's a look at whom the team could select.

ESPN (Insider)

Updated April 10 (McShay) and April 11 (Kiper)

A week after agreeing with each other on whom the Raiders should pick, just as they did for the 49ers as well, things are back to usual for ESPN's main NFL draft analysts.

Mel Kiper and Todd McShay, who often poke fun at each other on camera during their commentary, have gone different routes in their latest mocks.

Kiper has the Raiders taking Denzel Ward, a cornerback from Ohio State. According to his NFL.com draft profile, Ward has “supreme athletic ability” and allowed just a 32 percent completion rate over the last two seasons, but his size (5-foot-10, 191 pounds) and strength are question marks.

"I'm grabbing my top-ranked cornerback for the Raiders, who got only 89 snaps out of last year's first-rounder, Gareon Conley," Kiper wrote. "I have a higher grade on Ward, a college teammate of Conley's, who is a better athlete but a little smaller."

McShay puts Oakland on Virginia Tech linebacker Tremaine Edmunds. NFL.com’s draft profile says he “combines length with rare reactive athleticism and agility to access and tackle opportunities from unconventional angles” but adds that his “instincts are average” and “can be a step slow to diagnose.”

"Edmunds is a physical freak (4.54 40 at 6-4, 253 pounds), who can play sideline to sideline at linebacker and gives Oakland more speed on defense," McShay wrote. "Oliver is a little overvalued because of measurables, but would help the Raiders' thin secondary. Brown had a horrific combine but has a lot of natural talent. He could be brought along slowly, thanks to Oakland's terrific offensive line."

Both analysts had the Raiders taking Georgia's Roquan Smith last week, but now both believe the linebacker won't be available at 10.


Updated April 12

NFL.com has multiple analysts offering mocks and analysis. For these purposes, we'll focus on the most recent mock, done by Bucky Brooks. Follow the link above for more from NFL.com.

Brooks has the Raiders picking Smith. According to NFL.com, he has “elite athletic ability” while playing with discipline, but “will need more schooling on hand work when taking on blocks.”

"Explosive sideline-to-sideline player would quickly become Khalil Mack's tag-team partner as a destructive force on the second level," Brooks wrote.

CBS Sports

Updated April 11

CBS Sports has multiple analysts offering mocks and analysis. For these purposes, we'll focus on the most recent mock, done by R.J. White. Follow the link above for more from CBS.

White is the second analyst to have the Raiders selecting Ward.

"The Raiders are seeing massive turnover at the cornerback position, with David Amerson, Sean Smith and T.J. Carrie out the door. Rashaan Melvin was a nice pickup, but Shareece Wright is nothing more than depth," White wrote. "Enter Ward, an elite cover corner who has everything but prototypical size. He'll be an excellent slot corner and should excel in Oakland, where Melvin and Gareon Conley can match up with bigger receivers."

Walter Football

Updated April 11

Analyst Walter Cherepinsky continues to like Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea for the Raiders. According to his draft profile, Vea "has power to press blockers off of his frame and the hip rotation and flexibility to dislodge them," adding that he's "still very raw with much more talent to unlock." His downsides are that he "loses his feet and hits the turf too often" and could be viewed only as a run-down player.

"Vea is a freak athlete, as few man can do what he's able to at his size," Cherepinsky wrote. "Called a 'dancing bear' by (NFL media draft expert) Mike Mayock, Vea could sneak into the top 10."

U-T San Diego

Updated April 11

Draft expert Eddie Brown is another who has the Raiders going with Smith.

"The former Bulldog linebacker is built more like a strong safety – he’s 6-1, 225 pounds," Brown wrote. "The modern NFL prefers its linebackers speedy and is willing to sacrifice size if the prospect features athleticism, physicality and football intelligence. The Bednarik finalist and Butkus award winner (best linebacker) is blessed with all three."

USA Today

Updated April 4

(Editor's note: Draft analyst Nate Davis has yet to post an update since last week, so this is a rerun of what he had previously.)

Davis is shaking things up a bit. Instead of Oakland using the 10th pick, he has the team trading down to 16 with the Arizona Cardinals. With that pick, the Raiders would select Alabama defensive tackle Da'Ron Payne.

According to his NFL.com draft profile, he already "plays like a pro" and "offenses simply shouldn't run at him." However, his "pass rush can come to a grinding halt if his first move is stopped," one of his few weaknesses listed.

"Jon Gruden would probably like another toy for his offense, but the smart play is putting more talent around Khalil Mack and a defense that ranked 23rd," Davis wrote.