It is time for rebuild mode for the Raiders and they start with the 2019 NFL draft. With 10 picks including three in the first round, this draft should be able to give the rebuild a nice jump start.
Jon Gruden has come into Oakland and made everybody aware that he is going to create his own team. In 2018 he traded away the likes of Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper and received first round picks for both. The Raiders have holes all over their team. The one spot they may be good on is their offensive line. The line did not play up to the standard we all expected but they still have solid players throughout that line.
Derek Carr is up in the air after a poor showing last season but I think Gruden gives him another chance. Watching Gruden’s QB Camp before he took the coaching job, he was enamored with Carr to the point he said that Carr was the best quarterback in that draft. Due to, this I think Gruden gets Carr some weapons and gives him another shot.
Round 1, Pick #4 Ed Oliver, Defensive Tackle- Houston
Many experts have Rashan Gary going to the Raiders here but they need to go and get Ed Oliver. Both players can shift between inside the line and the edge. Both players are physically gifted and excellent football players. There is one glaring difference between the two though, collegiate production.
Rashan Gary produced 119 tackles (57 solo), 23 tackles for a loss, 9.5 sacks, and one forced fumble in 34 games. Ed Oliver produced 192 tackles (122 solo), 53 tackles for a loss, 13.5 sacks, two passes defended, and one forced fumble in 32 games. So in two less games Oliver more than doubled Gary’s solo tackle production and more than double his tackles for a loss. For these reasons alone Oliver is the pick.
Round 1, Pick #24 Deandre Baker, Cornerback- Georgia
Based off production, Deandre Baker is probably the best cornerback in the draft. Unfortunately for him, because of his shorter stature, 5’11 and 185 Lbs., he has dropped back a slot or two. Luckily for him, Denzel Ward more or less proved the short corner narrative to be incorrect as he played great in 2018. If you watch Deandre Baker’s tape you see lockdown corner capabilities.
Gareon Conley should be the number one corner in Oakland for 2019, as he made strides in 2018. Adding another great cover corner is a great start to rebuilding this defense with young talent. If Baker can translate his NCAA play to the NFLit is quite possible he takes over number one duties.
Round 1, Pick #27 Josh Jacobs, Running Back- Alabama
Josh Jacobs may not have the collegiate production of some of the other running backs in this class but his dual threat ability makes him the top running back prospect. The lack of production was not his fault by any means as Alabama used a running back by committee approach with Jacobs and Damien Harris. Though he did not touch the ball as much as some he did finish 2018 with 640 rushing yards at 5.9 yards per carry and 11 rushing touchdowns. To boot he had 247 receiving yards and an additional three touchdowns.
The Raiders at the moment employ a combo of Doug Martin, Marshawn Lynch and Jalen Richard. Of those three Richard may be the only one worth holding on to. Jacobs would be an immediate upgrade over all three of the Raiders options and his duel threat ability gives him the opportunity to be a three down back.
Round 2, Pick #35 Jaylon Ferguson, Defensive End- Louisiana Tech
The Raiders lost all the pass rush they had when they traded Khalil Mack. This should be an area of focus for the Raiders in this draft as it is one of the draft’s deepest positions. Jaylon Ferguson on tape is an absolute terror. With menacing power and athleticism and great bend he gets to quarterbacks with ease. He finished his NCAA career with 187 tackles (112 solo), 67.5 tackles for a loss, 45 sacks, six passes defended, seven forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.
Ferguson had a monster Senior season with 26 tackles for a loss and 17.5 sacks. He has great size at 6’5 and 262 Lbs. which should translate to the NFL with ease. With that size, he is on record running a 4.60 second 40 yard dash. Ferguson could be an easy 10 sack candidate in his rookie season and should compliment Arden Key quite well.
Round 3, Pick #66 Hakeem Butler, Wide Receiver- Iowa St.
The Raiders are depleted of any sort of offensive weapon outside of Jared Cook who is a free agent in 2019. Gruden traded away Amari Cooper for a first round pick having not been a fan of his inconsistency. Derek Carr needs a reliable target and Hakeem Butler can be that guy. Butler gives you a tall long armed wide receiver at a height of 6’6 .
Butler was always a great red zone target in college as he has 18 touchdowns in 34 games including 16 in his last 26. During his Junior season he turned into a legitimate number one target as his total yards jumped from 697 in his Sophmore year all the way up to 1,318 yards. The Raiders need a red zone target and with Carr’s strong arm the Raiders can take some nice shots down field with Butler.
Round 4, Pick #100 Lukas Denis, Free Safety- Boston College
Some may say that grabbing Lukas Denis in the fourth round, especially high in the fourth round, is a little bit of a reach. Lukas Denis though is a play maker and the Raiders are completely devoid of any play makers on defense. In 30 games Denis picked off nine passes and had 16 passes defended while racking up 139 total tackles.
What the Raiders need to be looking for in the draft is difference makers and positional versatility. Lukas Denis is a very good cover safety. He can play anywhere from single high safety to nickle corner, to even some outside corner. The Raiders just need to add talent and here they grab a guy who can play multiple positions.
Round 5, Pick #131 David Long Jr., Linebacker- West Virginia
David Long Jr. would probably go higher on draft boards if the position was not so weak this year. The 2019 linebacker draft class is said to be a weak class but that does not mean it is missing talent all together. The other thing Long has going against him is the fact he is only 5’11 and 221 Lbs. Make no mistake though this is another player who makes things happen.
Looking into his career with the Mountaineers he progressed every year upping his tackles, tackles for a loss, sacks as well as turnovers forced. He showcased great play making ability during his Junior season where he totaled 108 tackles with 19.5 going for a loss but also adding seven sacks and two forced fumbles.
The Raiders have some decent up and coming linebackers in Marquel Lee and Nick Morrow but will be looking to replace Tahir Whitehead soon. Not only could Long be that guy but he could even push Lee and Morrow for first team snaps.
Round 6, Pick #184 Preston Williams, Wide Receiver- Colorado St.
Preston Williams college career started off rocky start. In his first two years he played at the University of Tennessee where he played a total of only seven games only to transfer at the end of his Sophomore season. He transferred to Colorado St. which seems to have been the best choice he could have made as he reopened the door to the NFL.
During his lone season at Colorado St. he put up totals of 96 receptions for 1,345 yards and a whopping 14 touchdowns in 12 games. At 6’4 and 210 Lbs. with a 40 yard dash of 4.48 seconds Williams is a very high upside pick this late in the draft. Some people just need a change of scenery to succeed and that seems to have been the case for Williams. With the lack of receiving options in Oakland Preston Williams could easily see himself inserted into the starting lineup.
Round 7, Pick #196 Will Harris, Strong Safety- Boston College
This is another upside pick this late in the draft. As I mentioned before the Raiders are mostly devoid of any talent on the defensive side of the ball. In this mock the Raiders already selected Lukas Denis the free safety from Boston College in the fourth round, why not select his running mate.
Harris and Denis formed a great safety tandem, one of the best in the NCAA last season. Having them play side by side only ensures cohesiveness and understanding in the secondary. Karl Joseph seemed to have fallen out of favor with Gruden last season and Will Harris is good enough to push him for the starting job.
Round 7, Pick #213 Maxx Crosby, Defensive End- Eastern Michigan
Maxx Crosby is more of a depth pick to add to the roster to compete. With a team like the Raiders there is actually a chance he gets real game time reps. Maybe just pass rushing situations but there is opportunity. The Raiders lack any pass rush outside of Arden Key on the edge and he was only productive in small doses. Crosby will be coming in with a career 162 tackles (73 solo), 41 tackles for a loss, 20 sacks and eight forced fumbles. With plenty of opportunity in Oakland we could see some of the late round picks making regular season impact.
The Raiders attack this draft grabbing the best available talent that they can. They add who was at one point considered the top prospect of the draft at number four overall in Ed Oliver. Oliver can now join last years promising rookie Maurice Hurst in the middle of the Raiders defensive line as well as moving outside in certain situations. They also add one of the top corners, a powerful pass rusher, to go along with a solid safety duo. This draft really helps beef up the Oakland defense.
On the offensive side of the ball they add a little help. They add a huge redzone target in Hakeem Butler from Iowa St. and his possible running mate in Preston Williams who may be a steal in the sixth round. That makes an outside receiver tandem of 6’6 and 6’4. They also went ahead and added the top running back prospect in Josh Jacobs who is a possible three down back. Derek Carr now has some weapons to play with and they should hope to resign Jared Cook.
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