The NFL world has its eyes on the Senior Bowl as it’s the largest collection of college football talent the league will see before the combine. The Las Vegas Raiders found a few gems from last year’s Senior Bowl and they figure to be very interested in some of the prospects who are involved with the game. General manager Mike Mayock has been paying very close attention to the practices. The Raiders need serious help at linebacker and Mayock wasn’t shy about that fact.
“We’ve got to get better,” Mayock said, per Vincent Bonsignore of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “We’ve got linebacker issues. People know that. We’ve got to get better at defensive tackle. We’ve got to get better on the back end. So we have a lot of holes to fill on defense.”
The team went heavily after defense in the 2019 NFL Draft and wouldn’t be surprising if they do that once again in 2020. Despite the heavy investment, the Raiders still struggled on the defensive side of the ball.
Mayock Is Cautious of Taking a WR Early
Another one of the team’s biggest needs is at wide receiver. Prior to the season, it looked like the Raiders might have one of the strongest groups in the NFL. However, injuries and drama kept that from happening and they ended up having one of the worst wide receiver units in the league. The 2020 NFL Draft is loaded with wide receiver talent, but Mayock is going to be very cautious about taking one of them with either of his two first-round picks.
“Do yourself a favor and go look at (the history of the draft) and look at first-round wide receivers over the last 10 years,” Mayock said, via Bonsignore. “It’s sobering. And I think there’s some reasons why college wide receivers can struggle coming into the NFL. So I think you have to be careful. Everybody thinks if you draft a wide receiver in the first round it’s immediate production. It doesn’t necessarily mean that.”
Mayock is 100% correct. The history of the NFL Draft is littered with high profile wide receiver busts. Though there are some prospects who look ready to be superstars, the Raiders need to be very careful. Fortunately, Mayock put together an excellent draft in his first year and there’s no reason to think he’s going to falter with a second-year under his belt.
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Daniel Jeremiah Project Raiders to Take LB in First Round
The Raiders’ two most obvious needs are at linebacker and wide receiver and most mock drafts have the team taking one of each with their first-round picks. Daniel Jeremiah of NFL Network pegged linebacker Patrick Queen of LSU as the target for Las Vegas’ second first-round pick:
“The Raiders need to get faster and more dynamic on defense. Queen plays sideline to sideline, and he’s outstanding in coverage.”
It’s been a running theme for years that the Raiders linebackers have lacked athletic skills. In a division with tight ends like Travis Kelce and Hunter Henry, it’s pertinent the Raiders fix the issue. Queen has shown the athletism necessary to be the guy. Isaiah Simmons is the crown jewel of the linebacker class, but he could be gone before the Raiders pick at 13. Kenneth Murray out of Oklahoma is another name that has been linked to Las Vegas.