The Las Vegas Raiders are far from a finished product, but the need at wide receiver is the most glaring. Most mock drafts have predicted the team to address the need with their first-round pick. While that would be the most logical move, the Raiders are unpredictable and could look elsewhere with their first pick.
Outside of wide receiver, the offense is pretty set, but the defense could still use some work. The Raiders focused on improving the defense in free agency, but they haven’t added enough to really think they can slow down the Kansas City Chiefs. Below we’re going to go through five players the Raiders could favor over a wide receiver if they are available at number 12.
1. C.J Henderson (CB) – Florida
The Raiders tried hard to add a top cornerback in free agency but missed out. As of right now, cornerback is a major red flag for the team as second-year player Trayvon Mullen is the only viable starter they have right now. If Las Vegas decides that cornerback is a bigger need than wide receiver, C.J. Henderson will likely be the only player available worth taking that high. Jeff Okudah out of Ohio State is generally looked at as the draft’s top cornerback, but according to Peter King, some think Henderson is the prize of the class.
“I bet 40 percent of the teams in the league have C.J. Henderson higher on their boards than Okudah. Better cover guy,” a GM told King.
That news could be good or bad for the Raiders. It’s possible he no longer falls to number 12, but if he does, the team could be leaving the draft with the best cornerback. Henderson fits the profile of the type of cornerbacks Mike Mayock likes to draft. He’s tall, fast and big. He’d pair up very nicely next to Mullen.
2. Derrick Brown (DT) – Auburn
There have been reports that the Raiders might actually be more inclined to draft a defensive tackle in the first round than a cornerback. If that’s the case, Derrick Brown out of Auburn would be the most appealing player for them to target. It’s a huge stretch to think he falls out of the top 10, but it’s certainly possible.
Brown doesn’t wow with his interior pass-rushing ability, but he’s a very good all-around player. He’d be a stalwart on the Raiders’ defensive line for years to come and will bring more interior pass rush than what the team currently has. If he slides down the draft board, it’s hard to imagine Las Vegas won’t pounce on him.
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3. Xavier McKinney (S) – Alabama
The Raiders let Karl Joseph walk in free agency and while they added Jeff Heath and Damarious Randall, it’s still very possible they try to upgrade at safety. Xavier McKinney out of Alabama is the only safety worth a first-round pick in this class. It would be a bit of a reach to take him at 12, but the Raiders made it clear last year that they don’t mind reaching for players they want.
McKinney is a very versatile defender and would pair up very nicely next to Johnathan Abram. It’s unlikely the Raiders use a first-round pick on a safety two years in a row but if they did, they’d have a very exciting duo for years to come.
4. Javon Kinlaw (DT) – South Carolina
Javon Kinlaw out of South Carolina seems to be exactly what the Raiders are looking for. He’s an excellent interior pass rusher and an elite athlete. However, Vic Tafur of The Athletic recently reported that the Raiders don’t seem to be interested in him. They must be seeing something about his game that doesn’t fit their system. Regardless, minds can change and if Kinlaw falls to 12, the Raiders could give him another look.
5. Jordan Love (QB) – Utah State
The Raiders could also skip on wide receiver and defense and go after a quarterback with the 12th pick. If they do, Jordan Love would probably be the pick. He’s got the potential to be the best quarterback out of the entire class, but he could also be the biggest bust. It would certainly be a risky play for Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock to make and it could blow up in their faces.
At this juncture, it seems unlikely they’re ready to make a big move at quarterback, but it’s certainly in the realm of possibilities.
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