Oakland Raiders

Raiders mock drafts: Focus remains on defense, except for one ‘electric’ prospect

Oakland Raiders QB Derek Carr on Jon Gruden’s tough coaching

Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr met with the media after Tuesday's organized team activities on May 29, 2018 in Alameda, CA.
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Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr met with the media after Tuesday's organized team activities on May 29, 2018 in Alameda, CA.

The Raiders have several ways they can go with the No. 4 overall pick.

Clelin Ferrell. Rashan Gary.

Kyler Murray?

While most analysts suggest the Raiders work on their defense, which ranked 26th in the league last season, one steps out and makes an unconventional yet bold call on a position they just paid big for two years ago.

There’s still more than two months before the three-day NFL draft kicks off April 25 in Nashville, Tenn. When it does, the Raiders will have three of the first 32 picks, assuming they don’t make a trade: fourth, 24th and 27th.

Here’s a look at what could happen with the first of those selections:

NFL.com

Updated Feb. 12

The league’s official website provides mock drafts from five analysts: Bucky Brooks, Maurice Jones-Drew, Daniel Jeremiah, Chad Reuter and Lance Zierlein. Jones-Drew has most recently checked in and he has the Raiders on Ferrell, a defensive end out of Clemson.

His draft profile on NFL.com 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.”

Jones-Drew: “Pass rushers aren’t hard to come by in this draft class. Oakland finds a natural in Ferrell.”

CBS Sports

Updated Feb. 13

CBS Sports has doubled its analyst count from last week. The site has mocks from six men: Will Brinson, Jared Dubin, Pete Prisco, Chris Trapasso, R.J. White and Ryan Wilson. The most recent post comes from Dubin, who has Michigan edge Gary going to the Raiders.

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.”

Dubin: “The Raiders move down two spots, pick up some extra draft capital from the Giants, and still manage to come away with the same player they would have taken at No. 4. Jon Gruden has some work to do to rebuild this roster but slotting Gary into the middle of the defense while adding additional value is a heck of a start.”

U-T San Diego

Updated Feb. 13

Now for the shock of the mocks. Draft analyst Eddie Brown is going away from defense and has the Raiders taking Murray at No. 4 – a bit surprising, considering incumbent quarterback Derek Carr signed a five-year, $125 million contract extension in June 2017.

Murray, who was drafted No. 9 overall by the A’s this past June, recently said he wanted to focus on football. According to his draft profile, the 2019 Heisman Trophy winner out of Oklahoma “is like a complex burgundy with notes of Baker Mayfield, Johnny Manziel and Russell Wilson in his play, but like any quarterback, he’ll need to prove he can recognize disguised coverages and work on-time from the pocket to go from flash talent to playoff winner. ... Murray is an electric talent with a live arm, good mental makeup and the skill-set to produce at a high level in the right offense.”

Brown: “I’d be shocked if Jon Gruden has any allegiance whatsoever to Derek Carr. Carr’s contract is guaranteed next season, but wouldn’t be difficult to ditch in 2020. He could have trade value, much like Alex Smith did, if he performs well. Murray would be the first person ever drafted in the first round of both the NFL and Major League Baseball drafts, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.”

Walter Football

Updated Feb. 13

Walter Cherepinsky updates his mocks more frequently than most analysts. He had Josh Allen, a favorite for the 49ers, as the Raiders’ pick last week, but now has the Kentucky edge going a spot earlier and Oakland instead taking Gary.

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. (He) is an athletic freak.”

Bleacher Report

Updated Feb. 15

NFL writer Kristopher Knox offers his first-round list, but doesn’t go into detail on the selections. For now, he writes that “the draft picture can only be based on what players have put on film, a few college all-star practices and recent developments.”

He also has Gary as the Raiders’ pick.

ESPN+

Not recently updated

Longtime ESPN analysts Todd McShay and Mel Kiper Jr. haven’t recently updated their mocks. Since McShay’s was published in this roundup last week, to give a different take, let’s go back to Jan. 17, when Kiper last posted.

He went with LSU cornerback Greedy Williams, but don’t be surprised to see this change, as several other analysts have him going much lower.

His draft profile says he’s a “long, athletic cornerback who is more smooth and fluid than twitchy and sudden in his coverage. Williams has the instincts and tools to play a variety of coverages, but his length and pattern-matching talent will likely get him drafted to handle press-man duties. ... He has the talent and traits to become a CB1.”

Kiper: “It’s tough to predict what Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock will do with three first-round picks in this class, but fixing an aging defense should be a priority. ... Williams is a big, 6-foot-3 corner with long arms and lockdown potential. The comp I’ve made for him is Aqib Talib.”

USA Today

Not recently updated

Draft analyst Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz also hasn’t updated his mock in the last week. He liked Ferrell as Oakland’s choice when he last posted Feb. 5.

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.”

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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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