After nailing his first draft class, Las Vegas Raiders general manager Mike Mayock is looking to do an even better job in year two. While the team has improved in a number of areas in free agency, there are still some great needs at important positions. Fortunately for the Raiders, they are armed with two first-round picks to try and fix those needs.
On the offensive side of the ball, wide receiver is easily the most glaring need. For the defense, cornerback or safety appear to be the biggest needs, but according to Matt Miller of Bleacher Report, the Raiders could target defensive line:
Two first-rounders for Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden leaves the Raiders well-stocked to fill in holes. Don’t rule out a quarterback, one source said, but the expectation around the league is a wide receiver early and a middle-of-the-field defender with their second Round 1 pick. That would be a defensive tackle, as the team wants to upgrade there.
Quarterback would be tempting, but until Jon Gruden actually uses a first-round pick to address the position, it’s hard to imagine he actually will. Based on what Miller is reporting, wide receiver and defensive tackle are the play.
Considering the Raiders signed Maliek Collins in free agency, it could’ve been thought the team was content at defensive tackle for the time being. However, he is only on a one-year deal and so is Johnathan Hankins. P.J. Hall hasn’t lived up to draft status, so it would make sense for Las Vegas to upgrade the position. Maurice Hurst has shown a lot of promise, but he can’t do everything by himself.
Wide Receivers to Keep an Eye On
The Raiders picked a really good year to have a serious need at wide receiver as this is one of the strongest classes in recent memory. The big three are Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs and CeeDee Lamb. If most mock drafts are to be believed, the Raiders should get a shot at all three of them with the 12th pick.
Ruggs is probably the most exciting out of the bunch with his 4.27 speed. Though he is known for his speed, he’s also a strong route runner and has been compared to Tyreek Hill. However, history is replete with speedy wide receivers coming into the NFL and struggling. Ruggs appears to be an exception, but that could scare off the Raiders.
Jerry Jeudy is probably the safest pick at the position. He’s got good speed, strong hands and excellent route-running ability. He’s slightly reminiscent of Odell Beckham Jr. and that will definitely excite the Raiders. He could be plugged in as the team’s number wide receiver from the first day and could make a big impact on the offense.
What makes CeeDee Lamb special is his ability to get yards after the catch. He’s not as fast as Jeudy or Ruggs, but his hands are excellent and he’s a threat to score every time he touches the ball. Honestly, the Raiders couldn’t go wrong with drafting any of these three guys at number 12. That said, Jeudy is probably the best play for the team considering how close they are to playoff contention and he’s NFL-ready.
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Defensive Tackles to Keep an Eye On
When it comes to drafting an interior defensive lineman, the Raiders will probably look for somebody who can create a pass rush. Derrick Brown out of Auburn is the crown jewel of the class and it’s almost impossible to think he could fall to the Raiders at 19. However, if he’s available at 12, the team could rethink the idea of taking a wide receiver first.
Javon Kinlaw is considered the second-best defensive tackle in the draft, but the Raiders reportedly aren’t fans of his.
Ross Blacklock is the only other defensive tackle worth a first-round pick in this draft and he should be available at 19. He didn’t get a ton of sacks in college, but has a lot of potential as an interior pass rusher. If the Raiders are set on taking a defensive tackle at 19, then Blacklock has a strong shot of moving to Las Vegas.