NFL draft picks create a butterfly effect. One move will impact many others in unpredictable ways. That’s why mock drafts are often a fool’s errand, even if their focused on the first round.
A trade or unexpected pick or run on a certain position changes the dynamic of the entire round, making the prediction business extremely difficult. We were only talking about the first round, here.
The Raiders have 11 picks over the course of this three-day NFL draft. Trying to get all of them right (or even some) is an impossibility. We’re gonna do one anyway. It’s for fun. Let’s treat it that way and see what a good Raiders draft might look like, one that addresses several needs over the course of seven rounds.
First round (No. 10): DB Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama
-- Fitzpatrick’s a popular player, a versatile and dynamic defensive back capable of doing so much so well. He’s a coveted talent, but I feel like a quarterback run and early inside linebacker selections will send Fitzpatrick tumbling to the 10th pick. The Raiders will snatch him up without hesitation, led by former Alabama secondary coach Derrick Ansley, who now occupies that position with the Raiders. Fitzpatrick can do so many things well, and could shore up several problem spots for this Raiders defense.
Second round (No. 41): DT Maurice Hurst, Michigan
-- There was some talk of Hurst sliding way down the NFL draft due to a heart condition that got him sent home from the combine. He was cleared to perform at his pro day, but health questions keep popping up. I haven’t seen his medical chart and couldn’t understand it if I did (not a doctor), but let’s assume the Raiders think he’s okay to play. If that’s the case, Hurst’s a near-perfect fit, and it’s maybe too much of a risk to wait and see if he lasts until in the third round. The Raiders desperately need an interior pass rusher, and Hurst’s the best in this draft. His slide stops here.
Third round (No. 75): WR Dante Pettis, Washington
-- Jon Gruden loves precise route runners. Pettis is an excellent one, who can operate outside or in the slot. He has sure hands, is reliable and has a strong work ethic. Gruden likes thost traits, too. Good fit for this new offense.
Fourth round (No. 110): EDGE Kemoko Turay, Rutgers
-- The Raiders need depth rushing off the edge behind Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin. He has solid size (6-3, 258), explosiveness and sure tackling ability. He needs some technical seasoning and more moves in the arsenal, but could spell the top guys right away and take over for Irvin in the long run.
Fifth round (No. 159): CB Parry Nickerson, Tulane
-- The Raiders are looking for a steady slot cornerback. Nickerson could compete to fill that role now or in time. He might be gone by this point in the draft – Nickerson has a 4-6 round projection -- but they should pounce if he’s available. He’s more physical than you’d think for someone his size and never quits on a play. Nickerson visited the Raiders during the pre-draft process.
Fifth round (No. 173): ILB/SLB Tegray Scales, Indiana
-- Fans certainly wanted linebacker help before the fifth round – where GM Reggie McKenzie typically takes his linebackers -- but this mock draft didn’t fall that way. Scales is a quick player and sure tackler with coverage ability. He has strong leadership, and could play on the strongside, another spot where the Raiders need help. He should step right in and help on special teams as well.
Sixth round (No. 185) P JK Scott, Alabama
-- The Raiders didn’t let Marquette King walk without a plan to replace him. They worked out several punters in this draft, and snag an excellent one here. Scott is used to the big stage. He’ll be able to step in and produce right away. They might be pushing their luck waiting this long. A trade up could be in order to secure the draft’s second-best punter.
Sixth round (No. 212) RB Justin Jackson, Northwestern
The Raiders add another running back to the mix, an extremely productive one at that. Jackson was durable despite taking so many carries for the Wildcats, thanks in part to his elusiveness. He’s a solid receiver out of the backfield and could be an asset running behind a effective offensive line.
Sixth round (No. 216) DT R.J. McIntosh, Miami
The former Hurricane was given to the Raiders in an NFL.com mock draft, and he seems to be a good fit in Oakland. McInthosh is a versatile defensive lineman who can be a productive interior rusher if he continues to develop. He could be a rotational piece behind Hurst, Mario Edwards and Treyvon Hester if he earns such a role. He could also spend a year on the practice squad if he’s not ready.
Sixth round (No. 217) DL/OG Kahlil McKenzie, Tennessee
-- Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie wasn’t against drafting his son when asked about the prospect. Kahlil McKenzie has all the physical tools to be a productive pro, and nobody knows that better than his dad. He could fit in on defense or on the offensive interior, a place he worked out at during the pre-draft process.
Seventh round (No. 228) TE Jordan Thomas, Mississippi St.
-- Thomas is a lump of clay at this stage, someone with great athleticism and size at 6-4, 265 pounds. He has the tools to succeed as a pro, but analysts say there isn’t much tape to back it up. If he can be taught well and developed into a proper football player, the former basketball player could become a productive NFL receiving tight end. He’s worth a flier in the seventh, maybe a bit earlier than that.