The NFL Draft nears for the Las Vegas Raiders and the team is set to have a big first-day thanks to having two first-round picks. Due to the fact that the team spent big on defense in free agency, it’s easy to imagine that they’d want to focus on offense early in the draft, but that’s not a foregone conclusion. The Raiders had a very weak defense in 2019 and a team can never too much talent on that side of the ball.
However, it appears one player projected to go in the first round can be ruled out for Las Vegas. In a recent Q&A, Raiders insider for The Athletic Vic Tafur was asked if there was any chance the team could take South Carolina defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw with the 12th overall pick, but he shut down that idea:
Same as last year with Josh Allen. They just didn’t like him for bunch of reasons, some of which I may share after the draft.
Kinlaw has impressive physical traits and can rush the passer as an interior defensive lineman. ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. has him getting selected at number nine to the Jacksonville Jaguars, so he’s clearly an exciting prospect. That said, for whatever reason, the Raiders don’t like him. As Tafur pointed out, the team didn’t like Josh Allen last year and took Clelin Ferrell over him. Based on their rookie seasons, Allen was the more impressive rookie and has a more promising future. Time will tell if they’re right about Kinlaw.
Could Raiders Go DL Early in the Draft?
Just because the Raiders are reportedly out on Kinlaw doesn’t mean they won’t entertain the idea of taking a defensive lineman in the first round. They already have promising young players in Clelin Ferrell, Maxx Crosby and Maurice Hurst, plus they signed Maliek Collins. The defensive line doesn’t appear to be the team’s biggest need.
However, if Derrick Brown out of Auburn was to fall to the Raiders at 12, they’ll probably have a hard time passing on him. They’d be getting one of the five best defensive players in the draft on a bargain. You simply just can’t pass on a deal like that. That will probably be the only way the Raiders take a defensive lineman in the first round this year.
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Other Pressing Defensive Needs
If the Raiders do go defense in the first round, it’s almost a certainty that they go after a defensive back. Cornerback appears to be one of the two most pressing needs for the team. They know this as they almost spent big in free agency to address the position. The only two cornerbacks that would be worth picking up at 12 would be Jeff Okudah or C.J. Henderson
If they can’t either of those guys, they should wait until number 19 and perhaps target Trevon Diggs or A.J. Terrell. The Raiders do have a need at safety, but they used a first-round pick to address the position last season. It’s hard to imagine Jon Gruden will want to do that two years in a row.