CJ Henderson

Mel Kiper mock draft 2020: Raiders get CJ Henderson, QB Jordan Love

Mel Kiper mock draft 2020: Raiders get CJ Henderson, QB Jordan Love

The 2020 NFL Draft is just over a week away, and the Raiders will play a crucial part in how the first round unfolds.

General manager Mike Mayock and coach Jon Gruden own the Nos. 12 and 19 picks, and must once again stick the landing to continue the upward trajectory of their rebuild.

The Raiders' needs are well-documented, with gaping holes at wide receiver, cornerback and a need on the defensive line. We know Gruden likes quarterbacks, so one of those never is out of the question.

In NBC Sports Bay Area's latest mock draft, Dalton Johnson and Josh Schrock have the Silver and Black selecting Alabama wide receiver Henry Ruggs with the No. 12 overall pick and trading No. 19 to the Green Bay Packers for the No. 30 pick and the No. 62 selection. The Raiders are projected to select Clemson cornerback A.J. Terrel at No. 30.

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 ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr., however, released his latest two-round mock draft Tuesday and went in a different direction. Kiper has the Raiders tabbing Florida cornerback CJ Henderson with the No. 12 pick, and then going off-book at No. 19 by selecting Utah State quarterback Jordan Love. 

The Henderson selection would make perfect sense for the Raiders. After their contract with Eli Apple fell through, the Raiders have a glaring need at corner opposite Trayvon Mullen. Henderson is the second-best cover corner in the draft and his stock reportedly is rising fast.

As for the Love pick, it doesn't compute. Gruden loves to talk to and about quarterbacks. The Raiders have wined and dined Kyler Murray in the past, and they've done their due diligence on Love, Justin Herbert and Tua Tagovailoa this year. But Gruden never has taken a quarterback before the third round.

With Derek Carr and Marcus Mariota on the roster, adding Love wouldn't make a ton of sense. The Raiders have too many other needs to be burning a pick on a quarterback who isn't Herbert, Tagovailoa or, of course, Joe Burrow.

[RELATED: Five bold Raiders predictions for NFL draft]

Gruden has the reputation of a wild card, but Mayock's disciplined approach meshed well with the coach last season and there's no reason to expect 2020 will be any different.

NFL Draft 2020: How CJ Henderson's reported rise could benefit Raiders

NFL Draft 2020: How CJ Henderson's reported rise could benefit Raiders

It's NFL draft season, which also means it's rumors/smokescreen season. Every year as the draft nears, rumors, reports and whispers emerge as teams try to throw other franchises off the scent of their plans.

It appears the latest potential smokescreen involves the draft's top two cornerback prospects -- Ohio State's Jeff Okudah and Florida's CJ Henderson. Both are players the Raiders would love to add to their secondary. Okudah is expected to be long gone by the time the Raiders go on the clock, and the Silver and Black might have to choose between Henderson and a top wide receiver at No. 12.

Unless ... Henderson also is gone by No. 12, perhaps even before Okudah?

In his latest Football Morning in America column, NBC's Peter King has an interesting note about the cornerback class.

“I bet 40 percent of the teams in the league have C.J. Henderson higher on their boards than Okudah. Better cover guy," one GM told King.

Okudah is an elite cover corner with zero question marks. Henderson, while a great press-cover corner, has a tendency not to get physical with receivers in routes and give up catches due to mental lapses. I digress.

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If, say, 12 teams do have Henderson rated above Okudah, how could that affect the Raiders, who sit at No. 12 and No. 19 with massive needs at cornerback and wide receiver? The obvious point is that this is a smokescreen by a GM hoping a team in the Raiders' range (11-19) will make a trade up into the top 10, where the anonymous GM's team likely sits, to grab Henderson.

Like I said, smokescreen season.

But, let's say 40 percent of the league does have Henderson rated higher than Okudah. Given the number of quarterbacks and tackles expected to go in the top 10, along with edge rusher Chase Young, a rise up the draft boards by Henderson could see the Raiders get lucky.

Let's play this out with Henderson as the top corner off the board:
1. Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals
2. Chase Young, Washington
3. Tua Tagovailoa (Detroit Lions trade pick to Miami Dolphins)
4. Tristan Wirfs or Mekhi Becton, New York Giants
5. CJ Henderson, Detriot Lions
6. Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers
7. Isaiah Simmons, Derrick Brown or Jeff Okudah, Carolina Panthers
8. Becton or Wirfs, Arizona Cardinals
9. Okudah, Simmons or Derrick Brown, Jacksonville Jaguars
10. Jedrick Wills, Cleveland Browns

So based on that very rough sketch, the New York Jets will go on the clock at No. 11 with all three elite wide receivers still on the board and one of either Okudah, Simmons or Brown still available. The Jets, while in need of a playmaker, also need a left tackle and Georgia's Andrew Thomas still is on the board.

All this tells us is that a rise by Henderson could allow the Raiders to sit back and have a star fall into their lap, or make a trade up into the Nos. 7 to No. 9 range and snag a guy like Okudah or Simmons who has dropped due to Henderson's late surge.

Once again, the smart money is on Okudah being the first cornerback selected and possibly going at No. 3 overall if the Detroit Lions keep the pick.

But every year there is one or two draft prospects who shoot up the boards late, knocking projected top-10 players down a peg.

The Raiders like Henderson, of that there is no doubt. But they'd be willing to see him get snatched up if it meant a player of Okudah, Simmons or Brown's caliber fell to them.

I've advocated for the Raiders to take the top wide receiver at No. 12. A guy like Alabama's Henry Ruggs or Oklahoma's CeeDee Lamb would be a game-changer for an offense that desperately needs a home-run threat.

But the Raiders can't turn down the chance to select a possible future All-Pro in Okudah, a defensive Swiss Army Knife tailor-made for today's NFL in Simmons or a dominant defensive tackle in Brown. Either of those three players would take an improving defense up a notch.

[RELATED: Five bold Raiders predictions for draft that could happen]

There have been whispers of the Raiders wanting to add a dominant defensive tackle in the first round and Brown fits the bill. Okudah filling the corner spot opposite Trayvon Mullen would set the Raiders' secondary up for the long haul. Simmons long has been my favorite prospect in this class, and while the Raiders filled their linebacker void in free agency, Simmons can fill a variety of roles.

The Henderson over Okudah whispers could be just noise, but if it's real, the Raiders could benefit.

NFL Draft 2020: Peter King has Raiders taking receiver then cornerback

NFL Draft 2020: Peter King has Raiders taking receiver then cornerback

We're less than two weeks away from the 2020 NFL Draft, which will serve as another important moment in the Raiders' rebuilding project.

While rumors have swirled about the Raiders looking to take a defensive tackle with one of their two first-round picks, most see the Silver and Black going wide receiver and cornerback in some order in Round 1. That includes NBC Sports NFL insider Peter King, who said in his latest FMIA column that he believes the Raiders either will take Oklahoma's CeeDee Lamb at No. 12 if available, or grab Florida cornerback CJ Henderson and then draft the best wideout available at No. 19.

King also said he wouldn't be surprised if the Raiders draft a wide receiver at No. 12 and then trade up from No. 19 to make sure they secure Henderson.

That's a logical thought process. A big-time playmaker, whether it be Lamb or Alabama's Henry Ruggs makes sense for the Raiders at No. 12.

The Silver and Black lack the ability to create explosive plays which forces them to rely on long, methodical drives in order to put up points. That greatly hampered their ability to score points on a consistent basis in 2019. King believes Lamb, with his great after-the-catch ability and strong culture fit, is exactly what the Raiders are looking for.

It's hard to argue that point. I've long been a fan of Lamb's game believing he could be a DeAndre Hopkins-type player if put in the right system. Ruggs also would be an intriguing fit as his blistering speed is something the Raiders have coveted while watching Tyreek Hill run wind sprints over their face for the last few seasons.

As for corner, the Raiders must do something.

After missing out on Byron Jones and Chris Harris Jr., in free agency, and having their deal with Eli Apple fall apart, the Raiders are left with a big zero at one cornerback spot.

Henderson is seen as the second-best corner in the class after Ohio State's Jeff Okudah. Okudah is a can't-miss prospect, one the Raiders should look to trade up and grab if he begins to slip. If they stand pat, it feels unlikely Henderson will be there at No. 19, as King suggests.

In Dalton Johnson and I's latest mock draft, we have Henderson going to the Denver Broncos at No. 15. With Henderson off the board, don't be surprised to see the Raiders trade down from No. 19 in order to pick up another Day 2 pick and select one of the next three best corners -- LSU's Kristian Fulton, Clemson's A.J. Terrell or Utah's Jaylon Johnson -- in the bottom of Round 1 or early in the second round.

King's thought of the Raiders trading up to grab Henderson is between No. 12 and No. 19 is something that feels unlikely given the Raiders' need for draft picks. If they don't think his coverage skills are elite enough to draft at No. 12, it's hard to see them surrendering draft capital for him a few picks later.

NBC Sports Bay Area Raiders insider Scott Bair and I have been going the rounds about what the Raiders should do at No. 12. He's adamant they should take Henderson. I say take the explosive playmaker since you have one budding star at corner in Trayvon Mullen and no home-run threats at wide receiver.

[RELATED: Five potential busts for Raiders to avoid]

It's a debate that's sure to rage until general manager Mike Mayock and head coach Jon Gruden log onto the NFL's virtual draft portal and enter their selection.

Then the debate truly will begin.

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