How top 20 Raiders defensive players rank ahead of 2020 NFL Draft
20. DT P.J. Hall
Now the fourth defensive tackle on the depth chart, Hall's roster spot could be in jeopardy, especially after both Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock issued him a challenge to work harder under new defensive line coach Rod Marinelli.
19. LB Marquel Lee
Lee was solid last season before going on IR with an ankle injury. He should be able to compete for the third linebacker spot and gives the Raiders some quality depth.
18. CB Nevin Lawson
Lawson didn't blow anyone away when he saw the field in 2019, and he won't see the field in Week 1 after getting hit with a suspension for swinging his helmet at a Denver Broncos player near the end of the Raiders' Week 17 loss.
17. EDGE Arden Key
The Raiders still need more out of Key. The emergence of Maxx Crosby and the signing of Carl Nassib should take a bit of the spotlight off the LSU product, but he'll be an important depth piece in Paul Guenther's defense.
16. CB Isaiah Johnson
Johnson missed most of his rookie season after suffering a facial fracture in the preseason. The Raiders believe he can be a contributor, but he remains a work-in-progress.
15. S Jeff Heath
The signing of Damarious Randall could greatly impact Heath's role with the Raiders. If Randall ends up starting at safety, Heath becomes a third safety and special teams player rather than competing for a starting spot.
14. LB Nicholas Morrow
Morrow has proven to be a valuable reserve player and has acquitted himself admirably when thrown into the fire due to injuries to starters.
13. S Erik Harrs
Harris could find himself battling for a roster spot after the Randall signing, but he showed well last season when thrust into a starting role and can provide valuable depth in the backend.
12. DT Maurice Hurst
After getting off to a slow start in 2019, Hurst played well after Week 4. He had the third-best win rate against two blockers among interior defensive linemen, with only Aaron Donald and Javon Hargrave above him. Hurst should pair nicely with Maliek Collins.
11. EDGE Carl Nassib
The Raiders paid Nassib handsomely to come in and be productive off the edge. What role he plays remains to be seen, but with Benson Mayowa gone, Nassib will be a key pass-rusher for Guenther and the Raiders in 2020.
No. 10. DB Lamarcus Joyner
Joyner was kind of a disappointment in his first year in silver and black. He routinely was burned while playing in the slot and didn't deliver the level of play he has throughout his career. Thoughts of Joyner moving to safety are a pipe dream. He'll be in the slot, and the Raiders need him to be better.
No. 9. S Johnathan Abram
The No. 27 overall pick from a season ago needs to stay healthy and play with his hair on fire while also being under control. His return should boost a Raiders secondary that was sorely lacking a tone-setting presence after his Week 1 injury.
No. 8. DT Johnathan Hankins
Hankins was the Raiders' best run defender in 2019. They'll need the veteran defensive lineman to keep up that same level of play on the interior alongside Collins and Hurst.
No. 7 EDGE Clelin Ferrell
The biggest wild-card on the Raiders' defense. Ferrell didn't perform the way a No. 4 pick is supposed to, but he was asked to do a lot more than rush the passer. He played inside a lot and was a good run defender. Ferrell also got sick in the middle of the season and lost weight. The light seemed to come on in the second half of the season. The Raiders need Ferrell to take a leap in Year 2 and reach his potential.
No. 6. DT. Maliek Collins
The Raiders got one of the best nose tackles on the market at a reasonable rate. Collins only notched four sacks last season in Dallas, but he also accounted for seven sacks created, a stat that attributes the sack to the first player with a pass-rush win, not the one who finishes off the play. He's also great at fending off double teams and will see a lot of playing time in the middle of the defense.
5. LB Nick Kwiatkoski
These next five players have to play well for the Raiders to have any chance of succeeding in 2020.
The Raiders signed Kwiatkoski to be a three-down linebacker who commands the defense. He's a hard-nosed, physical 'backer who also can cover tight ends.
His play will be a key to the direction the Raiders go in 2020.
4. EDGE Maxx Crosby
From situational pass rusher to the team's sack artist, Crosby was the breakout star of 2019 with 10 sacks.
It might not be fair to ask the fourth-round pick to follow it up with an even better sophomore season, but the Silver and Black need Salt to ball out in 2020.
3. DB Damarious Randall
The Raiders used the money they got back when the Eli Apple contract fell through to add a talented, versatile defensive back in Randall.
Randall played well over the last two seasons with the Cleveland Browns, which coincided with his move from corner to safety. His coverage skills aren't anything to write home about, but he's a physical safety who can play in the box and shadow receivers deep.
His versatility will allow the Raiders a multitude of options as they put together their 2020 defense.
2. CB Trayvon Mullen
After entering the starting lineup in Week 8, Mullen flashed the shutdown corner potential the Raiders saw in him when they drafted him in the second round.
He posted two games with an 80 or above PFF grade, but he also posted three below 50. The 22-year-old had a game-sealing interception but also a few unnecessary penalties.
Mullen has loads of talent and should start to truly blossom in 2020.
1. LB Cory Littleton
The Raiders paid Littleton handsomely to get them out of linebacker hell.
The 26-year-old is an athletic, playmaking linebacker who should thrive on the weak side in Las Vegas. He's young, great at covering and a solid blitzer.
Littleton's presence should make the Raiders' defense loads better than the unit that fell apart after Vontaze Burfict was suspended after Week 4 last season.