Oakland Raiders

Raiders mock drafts: Why analysts agree the team should focus on one side of the ball

Alabama defensive lineman Quinnen Williams is a player some NFL draft analysts think will be a good fit for the Raiders with the No. 4 pick.
Alabama defensive lineman Quinnen Williams is a player some NFL draft analysts think will be a good fit for the Raiders with the No. 4 pick. AP

The first season in Jon Gruden’s second stint didn’t live up to the hope many Raiders fans had upon the announcement “Chucky’s back.”

The fiery coach, who was hired on a 10-year, $100 million contract in January 2018, endured a disappointing campaign in what might have been the team’s final season at the Coliseum.

The trades of two former first-round picks – one as the season was starting, the other in late October – combined with a total defense and scoring offense in the bottom fourth of the NFL led to a 4-12 record.

The deals which sent Khalil Mack to the Chicago Bears and Amari Cooper to the Dallas Cowboys brought the Raiders multiple first-round picks, two of which are slated for this year’s NFL draft.

When the three-day draft kicks off April 25 in Nashville, Tenn., the Raiders will have three of the first 32 picks, assuming they don’t make a trade. Oakland will select fourth, 24th and 27th.

With plenty of time to pass now that the season is over, here’s a sampling of what some analysts are saying about what the Raiders will do with the first of those draft slots.

ESPN+

Updated Feb. 7

Draft analyst Todd McShay has the Raiders selecting Quinnen Williams, a defensive lineman from Alabama.

The selection could help the Raiders improve the NFL’s 26th-ranked defense.

McShay: “Williams just makes sense for the Raiders. ... As one of the two most talented prospects in this class, Williams would make an immediate impact with his quick first step and penchant for dropping guys in the backfield. Let’s start the rebuild with an elite prospect.”

NFL.com

Updated Feb. 5

Sticking with defense, draft analyst Chad Reuter likes Michigan edge Rashan Gary in silver and black. His draft profile states he’s a “five-star defensive end prospect coming into Michigan who leaves with those same five-star traits and loads of potential but a lack of development in key areas.”

Reuter: “The Raiders have to address their pass rush – they recorded a league-low 13 sacks in 2018 after trading Khalil Mack.”

USA Today

Updated Feb. 5

Joining the defensive theme is Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz, who puts the Raiders on Clemson defensive end Clelin Ferrell. His draft profile says he’s a “highly productive 4-3 defensive end with prototypical size, length and strength to offer early help against both the run and pass. ... His rush can be leggy and gradual and might not get home as often in the pros, but NFL coaching might further unleash his physical traits and turn him into a star.”

Middlehurst-Schwartz: “With three first-round selections and a litany of needs, coach Jon Gruden and first-year general manager Mike Mayock could go in any number of directions at this juncture. Though his athletic profile might not measure up with other pass rushers in this class, Ferrell can overwhelm blockers with his length, power and hand usage to consistently get into the backfield.”

CBS Sports

Updated Feb. 8

CBS Sports currently shows mock drafts for three analysts: Will Brinson, Chris Trapasso and Ryan Wilson. The most recent post comes from Trapasso, who also likes Ferrell as Oakland’s selection.

Trapasso: “I can envision Mike Mayock being enamored with Ferrell’s length, athleticism, and developing arsenal of pass-rushing moves. The Raiders need to find a replacement for Khalil Mack, and Ferrell is a good prospect to jump into his position on the outside.”

U-T San Diego

Updated Feb. 5

Draft analyst Eddie Brown keeps the defensive idea rolling and explains why Williams would be a solid fit in Oakland.

Brown: “Williams would be a home-run for Mike Mayock’s first pick as Raiders general manager. The 21-year-old has been a revelation this season and dominant interior defenders like him are what every NFL team covets as quarterback Kryptonite.”

Walter Football

Updated Feb. 7

Walter Cherepinsky pegs Kentucky edge Josh Allen as the Raiders’ first draft selection. According to NFL.com, Allen is a “true hybrid linebacker with elite physical traits who has the ability to float between coverage and pass rush duties. ... He’s fine-tuned a couple of go-to rush moves but will need to continue to diversify his rush portfolio as a pro.”

Cherepinsky: “The Raiders need to draft the best defensive player available, and there’s an argument that could be made for Rashan Gary. Oakland needs to address both the edge rush and the interior of the defensive line, so this pick makes a ton of sense. Rashan Gary is an athletic freak. He wasn’t extremely productive as a freshman, but he recorded five sacks and 11 tackles for loss in 2017. His teammates believe he’ll be a top-10 pick.”

Noel Harris is a sports reporter for The Sacramento Bee, with a focus on the Kings. He’s been in professional journalism for more than 18 years. His roles have included sports editor at The Modesto Bee and news editor at two smaller California newspapers, as well as online producer and copy editor.
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