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2019 NFL mock draft: Mel Kiper Jr.'s three picks for Raiders in first round

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USATSI

2019 NFL mock draft: Mel Kiper Jr.'s three picks for Raiders in first round

The Raiders almost have as many first-round draft picks (three) this year as they did wins (four) in 2018. They're in the perfect place to begin their rebuild, but they can't fail with players that should hold the keys to their future. 

Will they place more of an emphasis on offense or defense moving forward? Mel Kiper Jr. has released his first NFL mock draft of 2019 and he has the Raiders addressing both sides of the ball in the first round. 

No. 4: Greedy Williams, CB, LSU

Cornerback isn't the Raiders' top need on defense, but they can certainly use help in their secondary. Former first-round pick Gareon Conley will man one side of the field, but it's uncertain who his partner will be. 

Kiper Jr. compares a former Raiders nemesis to Williams, one who was named to five straight Pro Bowls from 2013 to 2017: 

Williams is a big, 6-foot-3 corner with long arms and lockdown potential. The comp I've made for him is Aqib Talib.

The Raiders ranked 14th in the NFL with 14 interceptions in 2018. Williams, a redshirt sophomore, had eight interceptions and 19 passes defended in his two years at LSU. 

No. 24: Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma

Speed, speed, and more speed. The Raiders could use it and Brown has it. He's listed at only 5-foot-9 and 168 pounds, but he's a legitimate deep threat and the Raiders need to give Derek Carr some help

Here's what Kiper Jr. says about Brown: 

Brown is going to be one of the fastest prospects in this draft. He can run every route, and he's tremendous after the catch.

In his two years with the Sooners, Brown caught 132 passes for 2,413 yards and 17 touchdowns. 

No. 27: Irv Smith Jr., TE, Alabama

Speaking of helping Carr, here's another weapon for the quarterback. The Raiders' leading receiver this season was tight end Jared Cook, but he's turning 32 and will be a free agent. 

I mentioned Cook earlier, and he's a free agent, so this is going to be a need for Oakland. Smith had 44 catches and seven touchdowns for the Crimson Tide this season, and he is a really good player.

Smith tops off a first round haul without the Raiders addressing their need at edge rusher, but certainly adding to Jon Gruden's offense and a gaining a potential star at cornerback.

 

Raiders legend and Hall of Fame cornerback Willie Brown dies at 78

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AP

Raiders legend and Hall of Fame cornerback Willie Brown dies at 78

Legendary Raiders cornerback Willie Brown has died, NBC Sports Bay Area has been told on Tuesday. He was 78 years old.

Brown’s health had declined in recent months, as he took a less active role with the team after years as a public face of the franchise. He was a mainstay in the Raiders secondary for 12 seasons during a golden era where the Silver and Black won three Super Bowls. He was a Raiders defensive backs coach for 10 seasons after that, and recently was an ambassador heavily involved in the community and with the team over the last two decades.

Brown was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1984 and is a member of the All-Time AFL team and the NFL’s team of the 1970s.

His pick six in Super Bowl XI against Minnesota stands as one of several iconic moments in his illustrious career.

Brown stands among the best defensive backs to ever represent the Raiders, exclusive company considering how many excellent cover men have worn silver and black.

He was extremely close with owner Mark Davis and the Raiders alumni base. Brown’s passing comes but a few months after receiver Cliff Branch died unexpectedly. That’s a real blow to the entire Raiders family, which values history and tradition and player contributions as much as any team in the NFL.

The Raiders have not made a formal announcement on Brown’s passing. Please check back for updates on this story.

Raiders' Jon Gruden optimistic Trent Brown will play in Week 8 vs. Texans

Raiders' Jon Gruden optimistic Trent Brown will play in Week 8 vs. Texans

ALAMEDA -- The Raiders didn’t have Trent Brown available Sunday against the Green Bay Packers. A calf strain took care of that.

Coach Jon Gruden hopes that was a one-game absence.

He admitted looking at a glass half full, but he believes the Raiders' star right tackle has a real shot to play Sunday against the Houston Texans.

“I think this week he has a better than 50/50 chance,” Gruden said. “That’s me being optimistic, but right now I’d say it’s questionable at best.”

Gruden praised David Sharpe’s effort while playing in Brown’s spot. Sharpe allowed four total pressures and was called for holding twice on drives where the Raiders still scored touchdowns.

The Raiders brought Brown to Green Bay after formally designating him doubtful, just in case the improbable happened and he was able to go.

“I didn’t think there was really a good chance that he could play, but I thought he could be my bodyguard if he didn’t,” Gruden said. “I like Trent, I like having him around. I just like being around the guy. I like him being around our team. But there was a chance, so we had to take him.”

The Raiders didn’t bring receiver Tyrell Williams on the trip. He was ruled out Sunday with plantar fasciitis.

“He ran today, showing some progress,” Gruden said. “All I can say is we’re crossing our fingers. We really are.”

The Raiders need Williams back to help the receiver corps. Zay Jones was inactive Sunday -- he simply not ready to absorb a heavy workload in an offense he joined two weeks prior -- and getting him involved and Williams back would help the offense significantly.

[RELATED: Conley trade might not be Raiders' last]

Defensive end Arden Key also is on the mend and, like Williams, could be ready to play the Texans.

“All I can say is they’re questionable now,” Gruden said. “We’re optimistic that they’ll be ready to go for Houston.”