Raiders

NFL Draft 2020: Raiders should have eyes on Florida's Jabari Zuniga

Raiders

The Raiders' season and their time in Oakland ended Sunday with a 16-15 loss to the Denver Broncos. With that L, Jon Gruden and the Raiders must turn their attention to the 2020 NFL Draft and the impending move to Las Vegas

As Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock begin their evaluation of the current players on the roster, the Silver and Black have a few glaring needs that must be addressed either in free agency or in the draft. LInebacker, wide receiver, edge rusher and the secondary all need help. We'll get to the quarterback issue a little later. 

Since Gruden won't be busy scheming for the playoffs this week, he should watch No. 9 Florida and No. 24 Virginia battle in the 2019 Capital One Orange Bowl on Monday night for a player that should be high on his draft board: Florida edge rusher Jabari Zuniga. 

Maxx Crosby was a steal in the fourth round a season ago. Crosby became the first rookie since Joey Bosa to finish the season with 10-plus sacks and 15-plus tackles for loss. 

The Raiders could find another later round steal in Zuniga. Zuniga has been mocked everywhere from the middle of the first round to the third round, but he has the pass-rushing skills to help the Raiders upfront. At 6-foot-4, 246 pounds, Zuniga has the prototypical size and strength for an NFL edge rusher. He will need to clean up his inconsistency getting off the ball, but that has gotten better during his senior season at Florida. When he times the snap right he is a load to handle on the edge. 

 

He's got a powerful, quick first step and has strong hands that have stunned tackles at the collegiate level. He also has impressive lateral quickness and a long wingspan which makes him a valuable run defender who can impact ball carriers even without bringing them down. 

Zuniga still is growing as a rusher and could flourish with the help of Raiders defensive line coach Brenston Buckner.

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It wouldn't be surprising for the Raiders to reach and take Zuniga at No. 19 overall or trade back up into the second round to add him to their pass-rush mix.

Crosby had a solid rookie season and Clelin Ferrell showed flashes of why he was the No. 4 overall pick. I'd expect the Raiders to keep Dion Jordan around as he was impressive since coming on board in the middle of the season. 

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Adding Zuniga would give the Raiders another versatile defensive end who can rush from inside and out and help stop the run. 

I know Gruden will like what he sees from No. 92 on Monday in Miami.