For the first time since Mike Mayock took over as general manager for the Las Vegas Raiders, the team will only have one first-round pick to work with. That might be a good thing considering how he’s drafted so far. Before Mayock came to the NFL, he was considered a draft expert but that hasn’t translated quite yet.
The Raiders have very obvious needs heading into this year’s draft, which could make his job easier. Maurice Moton of Bleacher Report predicts Las Vegas to select a right tackle in the first round of the draft and then target a safety in the second round:
They traded Trent Brown to the New England Patriots, which leaves a void at right tackle. Denzelle Good could play that position, but he’ll battle Richie Incognito and John Simpson for starting spots at guard, per The Athletic’s Vic Tafur. Brandon Parker has served as a swing tackle since he struggled mightily through the 2018 campaign and allowed 10 sacks, per Pro Football Focus.
New defensive coordinator Gus Bradley needs a safety to cover a third of the field on the back end. That’s a crucial position in his zone scheme.
With the biggest needs narrowed down, the Raiders just have to make sure that they address them properly. The biggest thing is that the team needs to stop reaching. If they have their eyes on a player, they really need to ask if they will be able to get him in a later round.
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Players to Watch
Luckily for the Raiders, the draft is loaded with strong offensive line prospects. They will have really good options in the first round. The draft is less loaded with top safeties so the team would be wise to wait until the second round. Moton has a few specific players Las Vegas should target:
Oklahoma State’s Teven Jenkins should land on the Raiders’ radar at No. 17. He’s made most of his starts at right tackle, winning one-on-one battles with strength and nasty finishes.
UCF’s Richie Grant (10 interceptions) and Syracuse’s Andre Cisco (13 interceptions) have the ball production to warrant consideration in the second round.
At 6-foot-5 and 310 pounds, Jenkins definitely has the size the Raiders like in their tackles. Grant and Cisco would also be great pickups. The defense hasn’t been able to turn the ball over enough. Both safeties thrive at getting interceptions. That’s exactly what the Raiders need.
Raiders Have to Nail the Draft
Based on free agency, it doesn’t look like the Raiders will address their needs at right tackle or safety. This could mean that the team could have rookies starting at both positions in Week 1. If the Raiders fail in the draft again, that will be a major issue.
Perhaps more so than any other year, the team needs to have a great draft. Having a bad starting safety and right tackle could spell disaster. The best teams build through the draft. Mayock put together a solid class in 2019 but his last draft looks very disappointing so far. He can’t flop again.