NFL draft rumors: Raiders bringing in Noah Fant, Devin White for visits


NFL draft rumors: Raiders bringing in Noah Fant, Devin White for visits

The Raiders are bringing a few more high-profile prospects to Alameda prior to the NFL draft, including two early this week.

Iowa tight end Noah Fant will be in town Monday and LSU linebacker Devin White is coming Tuesday and Wednesday on official top-30 visits, NFL Media's Ian Rapoport reported.

Both guys are first-round talents, though one will go much higher than the other. White is considered the best at his position, easily gone in the top 10. Fant generally ranks second behind Iowa teammate T.J. Hockenson and could be around when the Raiders select at No. 24 or No. 27 overall.

The odds seem greater, however, that White could be a slight trade down candidate from No. 4 and Fant might involve a slight trade up from No. 24. That’s a bit of a crapshoot considering the NFL draft’s unpredictable nature.

The Raiders are known to have two other top defensive talents coming in as well, with Kentucky’s Josh Allen and Michigan’s Rashan Gary left on the docket.

The Raiders should go heavy on defense early in this draft, but an offensive player could make his way into the mix. Fant is an athletic tight end who put up 1,000 receiving yards over his past two seasons even with Hockenson getting looks as well. He would be an excellent compliment to a Raiders passing game already featuring Antonio Brown, Tyrell Williams and Ryan Grant.

White is an explosive interior linebacker who can do most everything and has energy to spare. He’s the interior tone-setter the Raiders haven’t had in years. Vontaze Burfict and Brandon Marshall are on the roster but obviously aren’t long-term solutions. White would bring an immediate upgrade there -- he had 286 tackles, 8.5 sacks and four forced fumbles in three college seasons -- and is yet another sign the Raiders are doing due diligence on all available prospects worthy of the No. 4 overall selection.

[RELATED: How Raiders' need at edge rusher complicates draft strategy]

They have already met with quarterbacks Kyler Murray and Dwayne Haskins. They have met with defensive linemen Nick Bosa and Quinnen Williams, with a few more of the aforementioned prospects lined up. They’re also looking extra close at options for picks Nos. 24, 27 and 35.

NFL draft: Five players Raiders can target if they trade down from No. 4


NFL draft: Five players Raiders can target if they trade down from No. 4

The Raiders could certainly trade down from one of their three first-round picks to pick up extra selections later in the 2019 NFL Draft.

An early trade would net a strong return that could add Day 2 picks to their cache, something general manager Mike Mayock discussed a few weeks back.

There’s a window where this would work best however, considering the Raiders own selections at Nos. 4, 24 and 27 in the first round. Sliding down from the fourth pick would reap the most return, though it only makes sense to trade down into the teens with two selections waiting on deck in the 20s.

We also covered some early Day 2 options, some of which would likely be available with a pick gleaned by a slide down from 24 or 27. Let’s focus our efforts on options after trading out of No. 4, and still landing a top defensive lineman the Raiders so obviously need:

DE Rashan Gary, Michigan

Say what you want about his stat line. Rashan Gary can create chaos when he’s heathly and going strong. He’s an athletic freak, with crazy speed and agility for someone his size. He regularly wins one-on-one reps, and could be a dynamic playmaker if coaches can help him find the football faster.

And, it can’t be ignored that Gary’s a perfect Raiders scheme fit.

He has the size and strength to play defensive end for Paul Guenther. He can set an edge, do some dirty work and also get after the quarterback. He has all the raw tools, just like last year’s first-round pick, Kolton Miller. Jon Gruden took a high-ceiling athlete who nailed the combine last year following a trade down. He could do the same here with Gary.

One issue: The Raiders might not want to trade too far back if Gary’s the target. He could go at No. 6 to the Giants or several other teams right after that. It might require a small trade down or (gasp!) to just take him at No. 4 if a run on defensive linemen starts when the draft begins.

DL Ed Oliver, Houston

We talk about Oliver as a trade target, but reports out of New York suggest the Jets could take him at No. 3. The Raiders should proceed with caution if Oliver’s a trade-down target, lest he be gone quickly.

There are lots of Aaron Donald comparison’s floating out there, and even if that standard’s unfair, it also suggests there’s high esteem for a tenacious interior lineman with enough athleticism and versatility to play anywhere up front. He could even play end in the base defense, and Guenther could find imaginative ways to use this premier talent.

He’s one to keep an eye on for the Raiders if they move down a bit, or if Quinnen Williams is gone and they just write Oliver’s name on the card at No. 4.

DE Clelin Ferrell, Clemson

Ferrell enters the NFL already a pro’s pro. He works hard, has a wide range of pass-rush moves and knows how to play a prototypical 4-3 defensive end spot against the run and pass. He doesn’t rock the athleticism of the prospects above him here, but he brings great effort and can get off blocks.

He was an efficient producer in college. Many scoffed at a previous suggestion at his bust potential, but I’ll reiterate here what I said there, he could have a solid pro career, but will NFL production match worthiness of a mid-first-round pick? That’s a question mark, though I don’t think he has a super low floor.

That said, Ferrell is someone the Raiders could get trading into the teens with a team like Washington or Miami on a quarterback hunt and pick up significant capital in return. It’s certainly an option to consider with Ferrell and the bounty coming back.

DT Christian Wilkins, Clemson

The interior lineman’s name hasn’t been associated with the Raiders much, but we’ll try and think outside the box a bit and suggest the Raiders could go after this big, imposing presence should they trade into the middle of the first round. He had 16 sacks and 40.5 tackles for loss in college, so he can make plays inside.

Wilkins offers a strong interior presence if the Raiders want and miss out on Quinnen Williams or trade out of the opportunity to select him or Oliver.

T.J. Hockenson, Iowa

Let’s throw an offensive player in here as well, despite a belief the Raiders are looking for defense from their top pick. A frontline tight end is also on the priority list, and Hockenson is expected to be the first skill player off the board.

[RELATED: Raiders have 'some sort of surprise' with No. 4 pick in draft]

He’s pro ready and can excel as a receiver and a blocker, meaning Gruden could move him all over the formation as a wild card capable of doing anything. He would pair well with Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams and make the Raiders offense tough to stop.

This is another case where the Raiders couldn’t trade down far and expect to secure someone expected to be a top 10 pick.

NFL rumors: Raiders have 'some sort of surprise' with No. 4 pick in draft

NFL rumors: Raiders have 'some sort of surprise' with No. 4 pick in draft

Welcome to Year 2 of the Jon Gruden Experience with the Raiders. Anything can happen, and it's sure to be interesting. 

That certainly won't change with the 2019 NFL Draft starting this Thursday. 

On Thursday, NFL Media's Ian Rapoport reported the Raiders sent home scouts due to a lack of trust on draft notes. General manager Mike Mayock is so protective of his draft binder, he even hid it from his own daughter

But that's just the beginning to this story. 

Rapoport on Monday further detailed the Raiders' reasons for sending home scouts, and it indicates a wild first round of the draft. 

"From what I understand, what the Raiders are looking at is some sort of surprise pick at No. 4 that would necessitate absolute secrecy," he said on the NFL Network. 

Now what exactly would a surprise pick be? Could it be doing whatever it takes to add quarterback Kyler Murray? Maybe they have their eyes on another QB like Missouri's Drew Lock, who a recent mock draft had the Raiders taking via a trade with the 49ers.

If the surprise will be in fact a signal-caller, Ohio State's Dwayne Haskins could be an option, as the Raiders reportedly are "super impressed" with the former Buckeye.

Mayock said in January he wants to create an open building with transparency between coaches and scouts, with everyone pulling in the same direction. Perhaps that means more employees of his and Gruden's liking than anyone else's. 

The Raiders' draft room will be busy come Thursday night, though it might be a little more empty than usual. The scouts who were sent home could soon be looking for new jobs. 

"For a lot of them there isn't a reason to come back because they're going to have significant turnover if the draft room," Rapoport said. "And a lot of those guys who left, probably are not returning." 

[RELATED: What Mayock's past draft rankings can tell us]

Hold onto your seats, Thursday can't come soon enough.