After months of speculation about what the Las Vegas Raiders were going to do with their first-round pick, the team has finally made a decision. With the No. 7 pick, Las Vegas selected Texas Tech pass rusher Tyree Wilson. It’s no surprise the Raiders decided to address the defense in the first round and they may have added arguably the best pass rusher.
The Raiders had bigger needs on defense than at defensive end but Wilson’s potential was too good to pass up. Las Vegas won’t be able to compete with the Kansas City Chiefs‘ offense this year but they can try to slow them down by building a formidable pass rush. Wilson should add a boost to one of the worst pass rushing teams in the NFL. Patrick Mahomes, who is also a Texas Tech alumni, took note of the Raiders adding the pass rusher and had a message for him.
Though Wilson and Mahomes went to the same school, neither should expect any mercy from the other. One of Wilson’s biggest jobs going forward is to figure out how to get Mahomes to the ground. It should be a fun battle to watch once the Raiders and Chiefs match up for the first time next season.
Wilson Was Eyeing the Raiders
There were some mock drafts that had Wilson going as high as No. 2 to the Houston Texans. It must have been a surprise to the Raiders that he was available at No. 7. Georiga’s Jalen Carter and Oregon’s Christian Gonzalez were likely tempting options but Wilson was highest on their board. The defensive end is likely very happy with his landing spot. Back at the NFL Scouting Combine, Wilson stated interest in teaming up with Maxx Crosby.
“It’s like I told the Raiders’ staff … if I get to join Maxx Crosby, it’d be two great pass rushers on the field,” Wilson said during media available at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Crosby is only 25 while Wilson is 22. The Raiders could have one of the best pass rushing duos in the NFL for a long time if Wilson pans out. He’ll have an elite pass rusher to learn from in his early years.
Draft Profile on Wilson
Wilson has some work to do if he’s going to be an elite pass rusher but he has the tools to be special. Luckily for him, there won’t be pressure to perform right away. The Raiders already have Crosby and Chandler Jones on the roster. Though Jones is coming off a down year, he’s a great player for Wilson to learn from. In Lance Zierlein’s profile on the defensive end for NFL.com, he praised his length but noted that he needs to get stronger:
Long-limbed defender who figures to turn into a full-blown nightmare for opponents if he continues to grow into both his frame and his game. Wilson’s combination of traits and athleticism should yield flashes of dominant play in both phases as he continues to get bigger and stronger. His length and lateral quickness are ingredients for chaos as a back-side run game disruptor. He’s capable of ranging and tackling from distance if the run flows wide. On the flip side, he’s not very instinctive as a run defender and his play demeanor could stand to be a little thornier when attacking blocks. Wilson has the physical tools to create pocket push as a power rusher early on, but the hand usage and rush plan will need tutoring for him to become a well-rounded, two-way rusher. He might not set the world on fire in Year 1, but the talent and vaulted ceiling will be easy to see soon enough.