Raiders

Five draft options for the Raiders at No. 10 overall

Five draft options for the Raiders at No. 10 overall

The NFL draft’s coming up quick. The Raiders will be on the clock before the sun sets on April 26, armed with the No. 10 overall pick.

That’s a valuable spot, with several quality options at multiple areas of need. It could also be a tradable asset should a quarterback-starved team want to trade up for a passer slipping down the chart.

Let’s assume, for a moment, the Raiders stand pat. A quarterback run at the top should shove some elite prospects down, even if some coveted talents get taken before the Raiders pick.

Let’s take a look at five good options that could be available at No. 10. There's enough quality atop the draft that the Raiders will have good choices even if some guys are gone. 

1. LB Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech
The former Hokie is a do-it-all linebacker with amazing physical tools, viewed by many as an all-star at the professional ranks. He can play off the ball or rush the passer. He can stop the run and tackles well. Edmunds has ideal size at 6-foot-5, 253 pounds, with long limbs to pair with great athleticism. He has all that, and he won’t turn 20 until May 2. There’s tremendous upside there, and Raiders head coach Jon Gruden won’t hold age against him.

“There’s a 19-year-old football player in this draft that’s a hell of a player,” Gruden said at the NFL owners meetings. “We’re not going to discriminate against him because he’s 19. You’re the best player and you fit what we’re looking for, we’ll take you.”

The Raiders could take Edmunds and help a lackluster linebacker corps. Analysts say some development is required to become a top-end pro, especially on the mental side of things, but Edmunds can be a disruptive three-down force in all aspects of a defense.

He can play any linebacker spot, and could help the Raiders right away on the outside opposite Tahir Whitehead or in the middle. Edmunds, however, can do several things well.

“Right now what I say is a starting-off-the-ball linebacker and a potential sub at edge rusher,” NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said after the NFL scouting combine. “He's got a skill set -- I don't use this word often, but he has a skill set that's unique.”

2. DT Vita Vea, Washington
The Milpitas native plays the position of the greatest Raiders need. They’re desperate for help on the inside, especially rushing the passer. Vea’s a run stopper first, but can still get after the quarterback. Washington used him across the defensive line to capitalize on freak athleticism for someone who stands 6-foot-4 and 347 pounds.

Vea could step right in an make an impact on run defense and keep offensive lines honest with Khalil Mack or Bruce Irvin.

“He can really roll his hips and he's got tremendous power as a run defender,” NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah said in a conference call. “And I think he does have upside as a pass rusher.”

The Raiders need a complete defensive tackle in Paul Guenther’s defense, and they’re hard to find. Vea might be one, which makes him tough to pass up.

3. LB Roquan Smith, Georgia
Inside linebackers are getting lighter, faster and more agile these days, a response to pass-happy NFL offenses throwing to varied targets. The Raiders need someone like Smith (6-1, 236), a true sideline-to-sideline presence in the second level. They have struggled covering tight ends and running backs for several seasons. Smith could help immediately in those areas. He’s also an effective run defender with tremendous instincts and a nose for the football. Smith is also known as a disciplined leader who the Raiders could plug into the middle and play. He and Tahir Whitehead would offer a significant upgrade to the Raiders linebacker corps, and improve a weak area right away.

“He's so easy to love when you look at everything he brings to the table,” Jeremiah said. “And I think interview wise and teams doing their background on him, I think that puts him way up there. To me you look at the Bay Area teams, 9 and 10, that makes a lot of sense for him there. And you look at Jon Gruden having been around Derrick Brooks (in a previous coaching stint with Tampa Bay), I would think he could see a little bit of Derrick Brooks in a guy like Roquan Smith, so that makes sense there.”

4. CB Denzel Ward, Ohio State
The Raiders drafted an Ohio State cornerback in last year’s first round. They might need another one, even with big things expected from 2017’s No. 24 overall pick Gareon Conley and recent veteran signing Rashaan Melvin. The Raiders are revolutionizing their secondary, and teams need three quality cover men these days. Ward is the draft’s stickiest cornerback, even with less-than-ideal size at 5-foot-10, 191 pounds.

He can play in the slot, and would make an excellent addition to his position group in Alameda considering his pro-ready technique, speed and agility.

5. DB Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama
Fitzpatrick can do most everything well in the defensive backfield, and the Raiders might jump at the opportunity to select such a dynamic versatile talent. He probably wouldn’t be on the board at No. 10 without a quarterback rush, and could still go before the Raiders pick.

Derrick Ansley was Alabama’s secondary coach before assuming that position with the Raiders this winter, and knows firsthand how dominant Fitzpatrick can be. He can cover the slot, play nickel linebacker or deep safety. He has great range, plays physical and is completely committed to the game. He’s also a solid blitzer. Analysts say Fitzpatrick makes smart reads and fits well in any coverage.

He would be extremely difficult to pass up if available when the Raiders select.

NFL draft: Could Raiders be trying to trade up for Kyler Murray?

NFL draft: Could Raiders be trying to trade up for Kyler Murray?

With six days to go until the 2019 NFL Draft,  Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock reportedly closed their ranks, sending all of their lower-tier scouts home due to a lack of trust. 

It makes sense for the Raiders to send people home for a few reasons, mainly the fact that they have all the information they need and now it's up to Gruden and Mayock to make the decisions.

But, what if the Silver and Black want secrecy for a different reason? What if there's a prospect who likely will be selected before the Raiders are on the clock at No. 4, that Gruden and Mayock want to try and maneuver a trade to go up and get? An electric quarterback who dazzled during his lone season as a college starter and has all the tools to be successful in the modern NFL.

Kyler Murray.

Of course, the prevailing thought is that the Arizona Cardinals will select Murray with the No. 1 overall pick and jettison quarterback Josh Rosen to parts unknown. But reports leaked Thursday that the Raiders could make a "big move" for Murray, and now it makes a little more sense that Mayock and Gruden shuttered themselves in with only the trusted surrounding them. 

After an underwhelming first season in Gruden's offense, many have wondered how long Derek Carr would remain the quarterback in Oakland. While Mayock and Gruden have offered some support for the 28-year-old signal-caller, it hasn't been overwhelming, at all. 

In fact, despite Mayock and Gruden claiming Carr is their guy, the Raiders met with Murray and worked him out in Dallas earlier this month.

It's actually pretty well known that both Mayock and Gruden love Murray.

To be fair, what's not to love?

During his lone season as the starter at Oklahoma, Murray captivated the college football world, throwing for 4,361 yards and 42 touchdowns while also rushing for 1,001 yards and 12 touchdowns en route to winning the Heisman Trophy.

Plain and simple, Murray would be the perfect quarterback for the Raiders' revamped offense.

After adding Antonio Brown, Tyrell Williams, J.J. Nelson and offensive tackle Trent Brown, the Raiders are in need of a dynamic quarterback who can extend plays with his legs and utilize the team's new field-stretching weapons by taking down-field shots.

Last season at Oklahoma, Murray averaged 11.6 yards per pass and a ridiculous 16.8 yards per competition. He was the very definition of a stretch-the-field passer.

Compare that to Carr, who averaged 7.3 yards per pass and 10.6 yards per completion last season, and it's easy to see why the Raiders might be looking to make a splash. Sure, Carr's numbers could be the result of lesser down-field weapons, or perhaps the Fresno State product just isn't as confident in going downfield as he needs to be in the modern NFL.

Carr, 28, was an MVP candidate in 2016, but he has failed to take the next step in his progression over the past two seasons. During that time, Carr has completed 66 percent of his passes while accumulating a 41-to-23 touchdown to interception ratio. Carr is a solid NFL quarterback, but he doesn't have the upside and playmaking ability that Murray does and perhaps a fresh start would do him good.

In today's wide-open NFL, a mobile, playmaking quarterback and a star receiver can take you a long way. Just ask Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill and the Kansas City Chiefs. The very thing a number of NFL teams are trying to replicate now.

If Gruden and Mayock really are as in love with Murray as it appears, perhaps they closed ranks in order to try and work out a trade with the Cardinals, knowing that should it fall through, they can deny and throw their weight back behind Carr.

[RELATED: Boom or bust? Some options for Raiders in first round of NFL draft]

With four picks in the top 35, the Raiders have enough ammunition to move around in a number of ways. Until recently, it's been believed they would focus on rebuilding their defense early in the draft, but perhaps Gruden has his eyes on a bigger prize than Quinnen Williams or Nick Bosa. Perhaps he has his eyes on the star who was supposed to be patrolling center field at the same Coliseum the Raiders will call home for one more season.

Murray has all the tools a quarterback needs in the modern NFL, and there's no doubt Gruden has thought about the 5-foot-10 signal-caller tossing long touchdowns to Brown for the foreseeable future.

If the infatuation is real, only one question remains: Can the Raiders do what is needed to go get Kyler Murray?

Boom or bust: Some best, scariest options for Raiders' first-round picks

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USATSI

Boom or bust: Some best, scariest options for Raiders' first-round picks

Raiders general manager Mike Mayock wants four foundational players from this NFL draft. Finding them is far easier near the top, where the Raiders have three first-round picks.

He and head coach Jon Gruden have to hit at an above average rate even with all that draft capital, which could increase with a trade down at either No. 4, 24, 27 or 35.

The defense needs serious help almost everywhere, and the offense has specific holes to plug as the 2019 season encroaches. Every upgrade-worthy position won’t get addressed in one draft, but they have to make the most of selections they do make.

Will the Raiders land some boom picks or busts in the first round? We’ll choose a few options at each first-round pick that could end up like Khalil Mack or, JaMar—well, the quarterback who shall not be named.

No. 4 overall

NOTE: We’re going to set some rules at No. 4 to think outside the box a bit: The Raiders love Ohio State edge rusher Nick Bosa as a producer and scheme fit, but we’ll assume he’s gone in the top three. We’ll take Quinnen Williams away as well to make things interesting, even though we think the interior defensive lineman is a sure thing and would be the pick if he’s sitting there at four.

Boom?: LB Devin White, LSU The do-it-all linebacker doesn’t fill a glaring need here, but the Raiders need to take the best player available wherever possible to strengthen this roster long term. If Bosa and Williams are gone – they have been eliminated as options for this story – and the Raiders don’t like options to trade down, White could be a dynamic, safe selection at No. 4.

He has great playing speed, hits hard, isn’t afraid to blitz and can cover tight ends. The Raiders haven’t had a player like that in the middle for years, and he could lead this Raiders defense for years. Sure, the Raiders have Vontaze Burfict and Brandon Marshall, but those veterans aren’t long-term answers and shouldn’t stop the Raiders from taking someone who seems to be a surefire NFL standout at No. 4. While the team’s primary focus at No. 4 hones on a few prospects or trade down, White could offer great value and Jon Gruden-like tenacity at an important position.

Bust?: OLB/DE Josh Allen, Kentucky Before we all freak out at this selection and tag him with this link on social media, let’s make this clear: Josh Allen should be an excellent pro. He has the size, speed, and pass-rush ability and work ethic to succeed in this league. But…would that happen with the Raiders? Is he a perfect scheme fit? Probably not. Analysts say he’s better suited for a 3-4 defense as a standup outside linebacker, where he could rush, stop the run and cover. While coordinator Paul Guenther is an innovative mind who can make any talented player work, this might not be a perfect pairing. Again, and I can’t say this enough, we’re talking bust POTENTIAL, with players consider worthy of the No. 4 pick. Those guys are almost always elite talents.

No. 24 overall

Boom?: RB Josh Jacobs, Alabama Taking runners in the first round can be a polarizing proposition, but Jacobs is a do-it-all player who would fit well as Jon Gruden’s feature back. He has power and acceleration to rush inside and out. He’s a solid receiver with some elusiveness in space. Analysts see potential in him as a pass protector. He also doesn’t have many carries to his credit, so he’s fresh and ready to assume a large workload. He’ll still get rest with Gruden’s preference of using several runners, but Jacobs could be an excellent lead back with plenty of touches in this scheme.

Bust?: DE Clelin Ferrell, Clemson The Raiders need edge rush help at some point early in the draft and would look to get one in the 20s if their top pick goes in a different direction. As with Allen, there’s a real possibility Ferrell develops into a solid, productive pro. After all, he was steadily productive at Clemson. But…if we’re playing devil’s advocate, he was playing on an awesome defensive line with intimidators everywhere. Also, Ferrell won’t wow you with athletic traits, creating some concern with how he’ll fare against the NFL’s best offensive tackles. He’s a 4-3 defensive end and would fit the scheme, but will great college production continue in the pros at a level worthy of a first-round pick?

[RELATED: Raiders send scouts home for lack of trust]

No. 27 overall

Boom?: CB Rock Ya Sin, Temple This aggressive cover man is tough, competitive as heck and has great ball skills. Does that sound like a Raiders cornerback, or what? The former wrestler can obviously mix it up at the line of scrimmage, and analysts say he’s good finding the ball in the air and making plays on it. He’ll play tough against the run and battle throughout a game. He could give the secondary some grit as the Raiders search for quality, depth and long-term solutions at an important position.

Bust?: Greedy Williams, LSU Williams has a lot of plus traits and an excellent first name for a cornerback. Analysts say he lacks play strength and has a thin frame. He’s could be a quality cover man, but there he’s not terribly physical. The Raiders like corners who tackle well and never give up.