Oakland Raiders

Raiders mock drafts: While most think defense, one analyst tackles another scenario

Roquan Smith, a linebacker from Georgia, laughs during a Play Football Clinic on Wednesday in Arlington, Texas. He's expected to be smiling again Thursday during the first round of the NFL draft.
Roquan Smith, a linebacker from Georgia, laughs during a Play Football Clinic on Wednesday in Arlington, Texas. He's expected to be smiling again Thursday during the first round of the NFL draft. The Associated Press

The NFL offseason is a busy time.

The scouting combine, free agency and schedule release are among the numerous events that fill the days between the Super Bowl and Week 1 kickoffs.

But none comes with as much anticipation as today's event: The first round of the NFL draft kicks off just after 5 p.m. at the Dallas Cowboys' AT&T Stadium.

The Raiders, who went 6-10 last season, hold the 10th overall pick, assuming they don't trade it.

Whom will Jon Gruden and Co. select to open his second stint as Oakland's coach? Here's a final sampling from some NFL writers and draft analysts:

The Sacramento Bee

Updated April 25

Matt Barrows, The Bee's 49ers writer, has San Francisco's Bay Area rivals taking Marcus Davenport, a defensive end from Texas-San Antonio. According to NFL.com, he "has good quickness in lateral slides down the line of scrimmage to close out running lanes" and "will likely be too much for tight ends to handle when as he continues to improve." However, he "needs to learn to slip contact rather than taking everything on" and "could struggle to cover if asked to drop into space."

"What team will risk taking a pass rusher from the University of Texas-San Antonio? One that took a pass rusher from the University of Buffalo," Barrows wrote.

As for the Buffalo player, Barrows is referring to defensive end Khalil Mack, who in four NFL seasons was the Defensive Player of the Year in 2016 and has three Pro Bowl appearances.

ESPN (Insider)

Updated April 20

ESPN's well-known duo of Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay have put out a joint mock, alternating picks over three rounds.

McShay makes the pick for the Raiders. He has Oakland selecting Florida State safety Derwin James. His NFL.com draft profile says he is an "absolute alpha in the locker room" who is a "solid open-field tackler with reactive athleticism to handle late elusiveness." On the downside, he "gets locked in on receiver routes and loses sight of quarterback's developing intentions," has played just 26 games in college and has torn his ACL in the past.

"That coin flip (for draft postion with the 49ers) looms large, but James is a good consolation prize," McShay wrote. "He's one of the most versatile prospects I've evaluated, and Oakland needs playmakers on D."

NFL.com

Updated April 25

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

Lewis puts the Raiders on Roquan Smith, a linebacker from Georgia. 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.”

"This is a popular projection in what's becoming linebacker alley at the back end of the top 10. It certainly makes sense when you look at Gruden's Bucs teams," Lewis wrote. "Smith might not be Derrick Brooks, but the similarities between the two has to be part of the thinking here when the Raiders turn in their card for this one-man wrecking crew."

CBS Sports

Updated April 24

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

Brinson says the Raiders will take Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward. 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.

"Not necessarily a position they're always connected with, but the Raiders just signed Daryl Worley, which should tell you how they feel about their cornerback depth chart," Brinson wrote.

USA Today

Updated April 25

Draft analyst Nate Davis is back with his first full mock in three weeks. In this version, he agrees with Brinson with the Ward pick.

"He reunites with former Buckeyes teammate Gareon Conley, Oakland's first rounder last year but a player not as well suited to cover the slot as smaller but still ferocious Ward," Davis wrote. "Depth at corner is as big a concern as some of this defense's other holes."

U-T San Diego

Updated April 25

Draft expert Eddie Brown is going the distance, mocking out all seven rounds of the draft. In his latest post, he's sticking 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."

Walter Football

Updated April 25

Analyst Walter Cherepinsky had long been a fan of Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea for the Raiders, but has switched to Notre Dame offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey. This makes for the first offensive player in this roundup.

"Donald Penn, 35 by the end of the month, is coming off a Lisfranc injury and reportedly won't be ready to return for a couple of months. This is obviously a big concern," Cherepinsky wrote. "Meanwhile, Oakland has a huge hole at right tackle. Offensive tackle is a position absolutely must be addressed early in the draft. Mike McGlinchey is the top tackle in this class, and there's speculation that he'll be a top-10 pick. This is the most logical destination for him in that range."

The Ringer

Updated April 25

Draft analyst Danny Kelly gives his final look at how he thinks today's first round will shake out. He has the Raiders selecting 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.”

"At 253 pounds, Edmunds has the size of an old-school middle linebacker – which should satisfy Jon Gruden’s desire to 'throw the game back to 1998' – but he’s got all the range and coverage chops that any modern defender needs," Kelly wrote. "Edmunds is a top-tier athlete at linebacker (he ran a 4.54-second 40-yard dash at the combine) and, at just 19 years old, has nearly unlimited upside to develop into a star."

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