The Raiders had one of the most productive draft classes in 2019. After years of mediocrity from players like Gareon Conley, Arden Key, Obi Melifonwu, and Jihad Ward they were finally able to add some foundation pieces from every level. While Clelin Ferrell did not have the dominant rookie season that we from Josh Allen or Nick Bosa, his underwhelming play was overshadowed by how good fourth round pick Maxx Crosby was who amassed 10 sacks. That total was higher than players such as Khalil Mack, Chris Jones, and Cameron Hayward. First round pick Jonathon Abram seemed primed to become a ball hawking safety to play opposite of Karl Joseph, but his season was derailed due to a season ending injury in week one. The Raiders took a lot of flak for taking Josh Jacobs in the first round, but he ended up being the leading candidate for offensive rookie of the year. His presence was able to take some pressure away from Derek Carr who had his best statistical season with the Raiders. Second round pick Trayvon Mullen had a rough week one but got better as the season progressed. He was forced to take on a bigger role following the trade of Gareon Conley and handled the increased role well. Fourth round pick Foster Moreau proved to an extremely valuable tight end with where they got him. The LSU product was flagged as being just a blocker but proved to be versatile in any two tight end set. He finished the season with 5 touchdowns and 174 yards. He will continue to be a great compliment to play along with Darren Waller. In the fifth round, the Raiders were able to find a great slot receiver in Hunter Renfrow. They will surely use him as a bargaining chip in an attempt to sign Tom Brady this offseason who has always enjoyed having Julian Edelman as his safety blanket. As great at the 2019 draft class was for the Raiders, they still have a lot of work to do when it comes to completing their roster if they want to make the playoffs. Here is a list of a few players I could see the Raiders taking with each of their picks:
Round 1, Pick 12:
Jeffrey Okudah, CB, Ohio State
2019 Stats: 3 interceptions, 34 total tackles
The NFL draft is hard to predict. Players can drop farther than they are supposed to for a plethora of reasons. The Raiders have the unique position in that the top teams will be looking to add pieces offensively early on. There are numerous offensive linemen, quarterbacks, and receivers likely to be taken in the picks prior to number 12 ensuring the Raiders can pick up one of the elite defensive players that will be available. The team will unlikely want to rely on Daryl Worley again as their primary cover corner and would be very happy to add his talents to a streaky Raiders defense. If the Lions do not take him with the 3rd pick, it’s possible for him to fall this far.
Isaiah Simmons, LB/S, Clemson
2019 stats: 8 sacks, 3 interceptions, 16.5 tackles for a loss, 104 total tackles
There would be no greater player for the Raiders to draft at this spot than Isaiah Simmons who is probably the best athlete in this entire draft. I predict he is going to have one of the most dominant NFL Combines in 2020. The Raiders should be inclined to trade up for a player of his talents but sadly will depend on their 19th overall pick to get a much needed receiver. I find it hard to believe a team in the top 10 would be willing to trade down to the 12th pick just for one of the Raider’s third rounders. If the Raiders are able to somehow get Simmons, they would be getting the most dominant linebacker they’ve had for decades.
Grant Delpit, S, LSU
2019 stats: 2.0 sacks, 2 interceptions, 4.5 tackles for a loss, 65 total tackles
Delpit is going to be the most likely option at this spot. He is the definitive best safety in this draft and will be the most talented player the Raiders could take. Erik Harris wasn’t the worst safety last year, but the Raiders would be foolish to pass up on someone with his potential. There are numerous teams looking to take a game changing safety in this year’s draft but there really aren’t that many available. This would give the Raiders the chance to trade back for a desperate team and get some assets for the second round.
No Jerry Jeudy or Ceedee Lamb?
Simply put, I don’t see any scenario where either of these players would be available. There are way too many teams that will targeting these players before the Raiders. Teams like the Giants, Panthers, Cardinals, Jaguars, and the Jets will be pursuing these two early on. Being that this is such a deep receiver class, I feel the Raiders will have little worries waiting to take a playmaker at pick 19.
The Raiders will have their pick of the litter with this selection. Their front runner should be Tee Higgins. The 6’4” receiver from Clemson would be the perfect weapon to add to roster desperate for offensive talent. His 25 touchdowns in two seasons encapsulate his jump ball ability. Mayock made it clear that he wants to give Carr a more reliable weapons for next year and this would be a good start.
Ruggs is probably the rawest receiver talent speculated to go in the first round. His route running will need a lot of work, but he has some serious speed. His ability to stretch defenses should be intriguing for any NFL team after seeing what Tyreke Hill has done for the Chiefs. The NFL does tend to be a copycat league and that has certainly helped Ruggs’ draft stock. Should the Raiders really be pursuing an unpolished player to step in as wide receiver 1 next year? Probably not.
Kenneth Murray, ILB, Oklahoma
4.0 sacks, 17 tackles for a loss, 102 total tackles
As much as the Raiders want to help Derek Carr early on in this draft, the Raiders also don’t have a linebacker on their roster worth starting. The team needs to move on from Vontaze Burfict, Nicholas Morrow, and Tahir Whitehead. Unfortunately, they can’t draft three linebackers with one pick. Kenneth Murray would at least give some stability for a Raiders defense that needs another piece to build around. His high football IQ and speed to tackle sideline to sideline would give them just what they need.
Round 3: Picks 80 and 81:
Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama
2019 stats: 3 interceptions, 37 total tackles
You guessed it. Trevon is the younger brother to star receiver Stephan Diggs. He is one of the lengthiest corners in this draft and uses his size to throw the receivers off their routes. He struggles when it comes to tackling which is one of the biggest reasons he is slated to go in the third round. The Raiders will have to do some serious decision making if they want to pursue him considering they gave up 5.9 yards per play, making them the 26th ranked defense in that category.
Ezra Robinson, CB, Tennessee State
Robinson only became a full-time starter in his senior season in Tennessee. He started his collegiate career with Michigan State who redshirted him in 2012. His 2013 campaign was relegated to special team duties. He left Michigan State and went to Tennessee State where he started 10 games as a Junior. His 2019 campaign included five interceptions and 8 pass breakups which has propelled him to draft relevancy. He excels in zone coverage but lacks any strength making him a liability in man to man coverage. He also has a big lability when it comes to penalties. That is probably the last thing the Raiders want being that they were the 3rd most penalized in the league averaging 8 a game. I would personally tell Mayock to stay away but I know the team will at least consider him with one of these picks.
Josh Uche, OLB, Michigan
2019 stats: 7.5 sacks, 10.5 tackles for a loss, 33 total tackles
The Raiders enjoyed an improved pass rush in 2019 but still ranked 24th in team sacks with 31. The Senior Bowl may have been the best thing for Uche, who was dominant. The Michigan product earned a starting role and dominated from the edge the entire game. He had one sack and a quarterback hit that resulted in an interception. If his draft stock hasn’t jumped too high, the Raiders would be very happy to have him at this spot considering they do not have any second round picks.
Bradlee Anae, DE, Utah
2019 stats: 13.0 sacks, 14.0 tackles for a loss, 41 total tackles
Speaking of the senior bowl, Bradlee Anae may have been its best defensive player. He tallied 3 sacks and also had a QB hit that resulted in an interception. Mayock has proven to be big fan of this game and has probably taken note of his performance. It is unlikely that he will fall to the Raiders at pick 80 and I could see them interested in trading up a few picks to ensure they can take him.
Khalid Kareem, DE, Notre Dame
2019 stats: 5.5 sacks, 10.0 tackles for a loss, 46 total tackles
If Anae is not available like I expect, the Raiders may want to look at Kareem an alternative. He has one of the best motors in the draft and should excel in the NFL combine. The 6’4”, 265-pound explosive pass rusher has the tools necessary to make big plays in the NFL. With that being said, he relies too much on overwhelming offensive lines with his size versus a refined pass rush move set. He also isn’t the most disciplined player and has allowed himself to become misplaced on running plays. Even still, this guy fits the Gruden Grinder mold and I would not be surprised to see him with the Silver and Black in 2020.
What’s better than a new starting rookie quarterback? A rookie quarterback that starts the season on the bench that the fans can put their hopes into when the starting quarterback doesn’t play well. The Raiders may have that opportunity in the middle of the third round. Fromm was being touted as one of the premier quarterbacks in this upcoming draft but ended up being quite disappointing. The reality was that Kirby Smart is a very conservative play caller and Fromm was never given a real chance to showcase his talents. The Raiders may have the opportunity to get a game manager and that would surely please Gruden. This pick would be a lot better if they can secure Tom Brady and give him a year to learn behind the greatest quarterback of all time.
If the Raiders decide to go all defense with their first round picks, they will have to find a receiver in the third round. Duvernay would not be the worst option. He has played both outside and in the slot during his time at Texas. His showing thus far in the Senior Bowl has also impressed many scouts showcasing himself as a receiver with strong hands. He was clocked at running 21 miles per hour which made him the fastest recorded player in the Senior Bowl.
Evan Weaver, ILB, Cal
2019 stats: 2.5 sacks, 11.5 tackles for a loss, 181 total tackles
The Raiders need linebackers who can make plays and they would be able to get that with Weaver. He is not likely to score well in the combine but knows how to find the football. Gruden needs someone who make tackles on a consistent basis and if the Raiders are not able to secure Kenneth Murray in the first round this may their best secondary option.
Round 4: Pick 121
J.R. Reed, S, Georgia
2019 stats: 1 interception, 0.5 sacks, 2.0 tackles for a loss, 54 total tackles
The Raiders were able to find a lot of production in the fourth round last year so there almost seems to be a lot of pressure associated with these picks, fair or not. If they do not use their first pick on Delpit, they will surely look to add talent at the safety position later in the draft. Reed was a big part of the dominant Georgia defense and could potentially take over Karl Joseph’s job. His high football IQ could play a major part in orchestrating a young Raiders defense.
Zack Baun, OLB, Wisconsin
2019 stats: 1 interception, 12.5 sacks, 19.5 tackles for a loss, 75 total tackles
If the Raiders are interested in a project, which is what most fourth round picks are, they should consider drafting Zach Braun. The former quarterback turned linebacker has taken his athleticism and embraced on an interesting new role. He entered college at 205 pounds and gained 35 throughout his time in college making him the ideal weight for the position. He has shown a diverse move set in his Senior Bowl practices but will take a long time to adjust to NFL level defensive schemes.
Round 5: Pick 160
Benny LeMay, RB, Charlotte
2019 stats: 1,324 scrimmage yards, 13 total touchdowns, 5.6 average yards per rush attempt
I doubt the Raiders will be looking for a running back prior to this pick but when it comes to the fifth round you start taking flyers on interesting talents. The Raiders will likely not keep both Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington this offseason being that both of their contracts are up. They could look at the Shrine Bowl MVP as an alternative option. He rushed for over 1,000 yards in his last two seasons at Charlotte and will likely be given a chance to make a name for himself in the NFL come preseason.
Michael Divinity Jr., OLB, LSU
As ESPN reporter Stephen A. Smith would say, “stay off the damn weeeeeeeeed”. The linebacker spent the majority of the 2019 season suspended or injured. In his small 5 game sample, he was able to get 3 sacks and 23 tackles. While the Raiders have been burnt by off field antics before with names like Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant, there is little risk associated with taking him here in the 5th round.
Round 7: Pick 227
Antoine Brooks Jr., S, Terrapins
1 interception, 8.5 tackles for a loss, 87 total tackles
There seems to be little consistency of where Brooks will be taken in the draft. He could go anywhere from the 4th round onwards. That appears to be the nature of the NFL for any given year so I guess you can add his name just about anywhere on the later rounds of this list. Brooks can be played in numerous defensive packages and has the ability to guard multiple positions. Coming from such a lesser known football team could help the Raiders secure him this late into the draft.