Raiders

NFL Draft 2020: Prospects for Raiders to watch on Championship Weekend

herbertusa.jpg
USATSI

NFL Draft 2020: Prospects for Raiders to watch on Championship Weekend

As the saying goes: "The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry."

Such appears to be the case with the Raiders' 2020 NFL Draft outlook. A month ago, it looked like the Raiders might get a top-10 pick from the Bears as quarterback Mitchell Trubisky continued to struggle and the losses kept piling up. 

But wins over the Giants, Lions and Cowboys later, and the Bears now sit at 7-6 -- a better mark than the Raiders -- and dreams of picking before double digits have evaporated. 

Not to worry, though. 

The Silver and Black still are projected to have two picks likely in the 14-19 range, which means they'll have their pick of some talented, potentially franchise-changing prospects, many of whom will play for their conference championships this weekend. 

As the Raiders prepare for a critical Week 14 battle with the Titans at Oakland Coliseum, let's look at some guys who could be wearing silver and black next season who are playing for conference glory this weekend. (It goes without saying the Raiders would love to have guys like Chase Young, Jeff Okudah, Joe Burrow and the like, but they'll be well off the board, so they are not mentioned here). 

Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon

Let's start here, shall we?

Derek Carr has enjoyed a fine season for the Raiders -- a career-year in some respects -- but two straight clunkers in a row and the hordes are at the gates. Head coach Jon Gruden now has two seasons to see whether or not he believes Carr is the guy to lead the franchise as it transitions to Las Vegas. If he isn't, Gruden could look to take the future leader of the Raiders in the first round. 

Enter: Oregon's Justin Herbert. 

Herbert has all the physical tools you want to see in an NFL quarterback. He's 6-foot-6 with great mobility and a rocket arm. There are times when Herbert pops and you see why NFL scouts love him. Then, there are times -- too many of them -- where his footwork is bad and his decision-making questionable.

Herbert is completing 67.5 percent of his passes this season. He's thrown for 31 touchdowns and only five interceptions, although two of them knocked the Ducks out of the College Football Playoff race. He's been hampered by the staff turnover in Eugene, Ore., and the decision to go from the spread to a pistol-heavy scheme. He needs coaching, and who better to do so than Gruden?


CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma

We've talked about Lamb before so let's keep this quick.

He's one of the two best receivers in a loaded class. The Raiders desperately need help at wide receiver no matter who the QB is. He's got incredible hands, is great at making defenders miss and is a solid route runner. NFL scouts still would like to see how he does against more press coverage, but if he's on the board when the Raiders pick, he should be their man. 

Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson

Here's another guy we've already dug into a bit, and a guy who more than likely will be long gone by the time Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock turn in their cards. 

Still, the Raiders are in serious need of a long-term solution at linebacker. Simmons is a linebacker/safety hybrid, who is exactly the type of player that is needed in today's wide-open NFL. He can run sideline-to-sideline to chase down running backs, he can cover tight ends (a must if the Raiders plan to catch the Chiefs atop the AFC West), is a solid tackler and can play some safety if called upon. 

Once again, he'll likely be gone, but the Raiders would love to have him. 

Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma

Since I expect Simmons to be drafted in the top eight, let's go to another linebacker the Raiders could look at. 

Murray led the Sooners in tackles last season, and most people assumed that's because Oklahoma's defense was one of the worst in the FBS and he was just cleaning up everybody's mess. While that might have been true, Murray has shown that he's one of the top linebackers in college football this season and a key reason why the Sooners no longer are at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to defense. 

He's a sideline-to-sideline backer with decent cover skills who looks to be the future in the middle of some NFL team's defense. 

Grant Delpit, S, LSU

Remember two weeks ago when the Raiders were raving about what a game-changer Jets safety Jamal Adams is? Well, the next great LSU safety looks to be just as talented. 

Delpit can do it all: cover slot receivers, play the run, play the deep pass. He has great ball skills and is a sure tackler. Pairing Delpit with Johnathan Abram might be too hard to pass up. 

Bradlee Anae, Edge, Utah

The guy trying to make Herbert's life hell Friday at Levi's Stadium could be a solid Day 2 pick for the Silver and Black. 

Anae is quick off the edge and is great at using his hands, making him a solid selection. The 6-foot-3, 265-pound senior might not bring instant impact, but Maxx Crosby wasn't supposed to either. He's been productive at the college level, has a great motor and would be a good fit in the Raiders' edge rush rotation. 

Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU

Trayvon Mullen is pretty, pretty good. The Raiders have a decision to make on the other side of the field. Will they bring Daryl Worley back? Or is it time to move on? 

The top cornerback in the draft might be a nice place to start. Fulton is a great cover corner with exceptional athleticism. Cornerback might not be the Raiders' top need, but a Mullen-Fulton pairing would be pretty tasty. 

[RELATED: Raiders rookies envision building dynasty]

Best of the rest

There are a number of other prospects putting in on the line in Championship Weekend who will hear their name called come April. 

Oakland, as stated, is in need of wide receivers. Keep an eye out of Clemson's Tee Higgins (we've talked about him) and LSU's Justin Jefferson and Ja'Marr Chase. 

Virginia cornerback Bryce Hall will have his work cut out for him going against Higgins and Clemson's receivers. 

LSU edge K'Lavon Chaisson will be tasked with impacting the SEC Championship Game against a stout Georgia offensive line. 

The Raiders have the Titans and a playoff run on the brain, but Friday and Saturday might be a good time to lock in and watch some potential future Raiders go to work. 

Raiders sign cornerback Nevin Lawson to one-year contract extension

lawsonusa.jpg
USATSI

Raiders sign cornerback Nevin Lawson to one-year contract extension

The Raiders officially became property of Las Vegas on Wednesday, and the Silver and Black made their first official move as Sin City residents Thursday. 

The team announced they signed cornerback Nevin Lawson to a one-year contract extension. After joining the Raiders last offseason, Lawson made five starts and played in 11 games for the Raiders, seeing a bulk of his time in the latter stages of the season when Daryl Worley and Lamarcus Joyner were banged up. 

Lawson will enter next season serving a one-game suspension. The Utah State product was ejected late in the Raiders' Week 17 loss to the Denver Broncos and was given a punishment for using his helmet as a weapon.

[RELATED: Raiders can fill many holes with Senior Bowl prospects]

After opening the season 6-4, the Raiders, overcome by injuries and lack of talent, limped to a 1-5 finish to end the season at 7-9.

With the litany of issues the Silver and Black faced in 2019, 7-9 should be viewed as a good record for a team that relied on a dynamic rookie class.

There are a lot of reasons for the Raiders to believe the future is bright, and they hope Lawson is a part of it.

Las Vegas Raiders formally announce name change, dropping Oakland

raidersvegassignusatsi.jpg
USATSI

Las Vegas Raiders formally announce name change, dropping Oakland

The Raiders started scrubbing Oakland from their name a few weeks back. Taking the city’s name off social media accounts was the most public step. Then, the team removed the word from the top of their Alameda training facility, where the organization will conduct business into July.

There were some legal maneuverings already in the works, and all that was a prelude to Wednesday's announcement.

The Silver and Black’s affiliation has formally changed: They are now the Las Vegas Raiders.

We all knew that was going to happen. The team applied for relocation to Las Vegas and the league approved it with a 31-1 vote back in March 2017. The Raiders remained in Oakland, with that name attached, for three seasons while their state-of-the-art stadium was being built just off the Las Vegas Strip.

On Wednesday afternoon, in front of the in-construction Allegiant Stadium, Nevada governor Steve Sisolak formally announced their new name. The announcement was made with owner Mark Davis, team president Marc Badain and several players in attendance, including quarterback Derek Carr, right tackle Trent Brown and tight end Darren Waller.

"The Raiders were born in Oakland and played 13 seasons in LA," Davis said. "Both cities will always be part of our DNA. But today, we begin a new chapter in our storied history. On Jan. 22, 2020, we are now the Las Vegas Raiders. And today, Las Vegas becomes our nation's capital."

[RELATED: Mayock confident Raiders' Vegas move will help in free agency]

The Raiders formally will move to Las Vegas after training camp in Napa, when their new training facility in nearby Henderson, Nev. will be complete.

The Silver and Black will execute free-agent signings, run the NFL draft and conduct their offseason program in Alameda. The team is scheduled to play in Las Vegas starting in the preseason.