Oakland Raiders

Raiders mock draft: Two favorites, one stunner and zero runaways for the No. 4 pick

Oakland Raiders coach Jon Gruden listens to questions from the media during a news conference regarding the signing of wide receiver Antonio Brown on March 13 in Alameda.
Oakland Raiders coach Jon Gruden listens to questions from the media during a news conference regarding the signing of wide receiver Antonio Brown on March 13 in Alameda. AP

The Raiders now have some certainty heading into this season. They know where they will play and they know what teams they will face.

What they don’t know is what young players might be joining the roster. That will come next week.

Oakland has three first-round picks to use on the opening day of the 2019 NFL draft. The first of the three-day, seven-round annual event is April 25 in Nashville, Tenn.

Most draft analysts feel the Raiders will use the No. 4 pick on a defensive player who could help the team’s front seven. However, there’s one who thinks Oakland could throw a different plan at the league. The Raiders also have the 24th and 27th selections.

Here’s a sampling of what these nine observers are saying about what the team could do with their first choice:

ESPN+

Updated April 10

Mel Kiper Jr., one of two high-profile analysts for ESPN, has previously tabbed Alabama defensive lineman Quinnen Williams as Oakland’s pick. That doesn’t change in his latest mock, which covers the first three rounds.

According to his draft profile on NFL.com, “Williams is an instant starter with Pro Bowl potential. ... His play strength is good, but his lack of mass and length will show up at times against NFL competition.”

Kiper: “(Jon) Gruden and new GM Mike Mayock need to hit here. They have to get starters. Williams is a game-wrecker, a defensive playmaker whom Gruden will love.”

NFL.com

Updated April 16

The league’s official website provides mock drafts from multiple analysts. The latest to check in is Daniel Jeremiah, who also likes Williams as the Raiders’ selection.

Jeremiah: “The Raiders should take the best player available with needs all over the field.”

CBS Sports

Updated April 16

Like NFL.com, CBS Sports also offers mocks from multiple analysts. The most recent offering comes from Ryan Wilson, another who is putting Williams in silver and black.

Wilson: “Williams is a monster. He dominated just about every snap during the 2018 season and he came to the combine and dominated there, too. He blazed a 4.83 40-yard dash, which only confirms what we already knew: His physical abilities are off the charts, and he’s not only a legit top-five talent, he has an argument as the top overall pick.”

Sports Illustrated

Updated April 17

Jenny Vrentas jokes that her latest post is “Mock Draft version 5,629,383,” though it’s listed as No. 11. Getting back to serious business, she has Kentucky edge Josh Allen as the Raiders’ choice.

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.”

Vrentas: “Stating the obvious: Khalil Mack replacement. While Jon Gruden may very well be keeping his options open at QB, I have a hard time seeing them go for a rookie passer here if Murray is already off the board.”

Draft Wire

Updated April 17

Luke Easterling is another who likes Allen as Oakland’s pick.

Easterling: “This is a fantastic scenario for the Raiders, who need to land one of this year’s top edge rushers after trading away Khalil Mack last season. While Williams would be a fantastic consolation prize if the Jets were to opt for Allen instead, landing him here would be a perfect start to a first round that currently features a trio of picks for Oakland. Allen is a well-rounded defender who racked up a ridiculous 17 sacks last season.”

U-T San Diego

Updated April 17

Eddie Brown may be the first to go on record saying the Raiders could take Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray. Although most analysts believe Murray will be the No. 1 overall pick, Brown is going back to that prediction in his latest mock.

According to his draft profile, the 2019 Heisman Trophy winner “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: “A trade up with the Cardinals, Niners or Jets for the right to select Murray wouldn’t shock me. Master of the Universe (in Oakland) Jon Gruden lacks any allegiance whatsoever to Derek Carr. Carr’s contract is guaranteed next season, but wouldn’t be difficult to ditch in 2020. Here, the Heisman Trophy winner falls in their lap.”

Walter Football

Updated April 17

Walter Cherepinsky frequently updates his site. His most recent post has Allen heading to the Raiders.

Cherepinsky: “There’s speculation that the Raiders will select a quarterback with this pick. However, Gruden prefers veteran signal-callers, so I imagine that they’ll lean toward fixing their horrible pass-rushing situation with the best player available. Josh Allen can basically play anywhere you want him to on defense. ... He’s compared to as a hybrid of Leonard Floyd and Zach Cunningham, as he can play in coverage and also rush the quarterback effectively on the edge.”

The Ringer

Updated April 15

Danny Kelly’s fifth-version mock provides more commentary than past posts. He’s also on Allen for Oakland.

Kelly: “The Raiders can take a step toward filling Khalil Mack’s shoes by grabbing Allen with the fourth pick. The former Kentucky standout has an extremely versatile skill set, with first-step explosiveness and bend as a pass rusher, and awareness and range when he drops back into coverage. Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther would have no problem deploying Allen in multiple roles in Oakland’s defense.”

Bleacher Report

Updated April 17

Chris Roling, the managing editor for The Bengals Wire and a contributor for Bleacher Report, likes Ed Oliver, an interior defensive lineman from Houston, as the Raiders’ choice.

His draft profile calls him a “twitched-up ball of explosive fury from the moment he comes out of his stance, but his lack of NFL size and length creates challenges with his NFL projection. Oliver’s athletic ability is beyond rare, but his ability to add and maintain mass could be critical for his future success. ... If Oliver’s frame is maxed out, he might possess the speed, toughness and instincts to transition into an inside linebacker role.”

Roling: “Oliver is likely one of those prospects battered around by the draft process but not moving much on team boards. ... Even if Oliver’s stock wasn’t flying high, a team like the Oakland Raiders would have a hard time passing on him. Jon Gruden’s club boasts three picks in the opening round and grabbing a talent like Oliver who can mask other weaknesses on the team by disrupting consistently is impossible to ignore.”

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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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