Raiders

Raiders Insider Scott Bair's first-round NFL Mock Draft

Raiders Insider Scott Bair's first-round NFL Mock Draft

The NFL Draft is almost here. It kicks off Thursday evening, bringing an end to speculation and suggestion and guessing what teams will do in an unpredictable enterprise. That won’t stop us from forecasting what will happen next.

A run on quarterbacks would be beneficial to the Raiders at No. 10 overall, and the 49ers just beforehand at No. 9. The Silver and Black will have some quality options, especially on defense when they’re put on the clock. The 49ers have similar needs and could take one of their guys, but a good player is expected to fall into the Raiders’ lap.

Here’s my one and only (solo) mock draft. Feel free to bookmark this page and ridicule me mercilessly over missing on so many. P.S. No trades. That just makes things complicated.

Check out my seven-round Raiders mock draft right here. I tackle the whole league below:

1, Cleveland: QB Sam Darnold, USC
Ignore all the reports of the Browns taking anyone else. That’s all smoke. Darnold’s the guy in Cleveland.

2, N.Y. Giants: RB Saquon Barkley, Penn State
The best running back in some time doesn’t last long. The Giants still have Eli at the helm.

3, N.Y. Jets: QB Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
Mayfield has his fans. His personality will play well in the Big Apple.

4, Cleveland: DE Bradley Chubb, N.C. State
Myles Garrett off one edge. Chubb off the other. Yikes.

5, Denver: QB Josh Allen, Wyoming
Elway and Allen. One big, strong, confident quarterback selects another.

6, Indianapolis: CB Denzel Ward, Ohio State
The Colts need everything except a quarterback, and even that’s a maybe until we see Andrew Luck play again. Indy goes with the draft’s best cover corner.

7, Tampa Bay: S Derwin James
The Bucs secondary needs a major upgrade. James is a tone setter at the safety spot.

8, Chicago: G Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame
Nelson reunites with a former Notre Dame position coach in Chicago. More protection for Mitch(ell) Trubisky. Match made in heaven.

9, 49ERS: LB Roquan Smith, Georgia
The uncertainty surrounding Reuben Foster forces the 49ers to take a plug-and-play interior linebacker. If Foster returns, that pair could be dominant. If he doesn’t the 49ers still have a leader in the middle. .

10, RAIDERS: DB Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama
Silver and Black get a do-it-all defensive back who shores up several deficiencies. He’ll be a long-term fixture in the Raiders secondary.

11, Miami: DT Vita Vea, Washington
The Dolphins let Ndamukong Suh go this offseason, and draft his replacement. Vea’s far cheaper, super effective and much less of a headache.

12, Buffalo: QB Josh Rosen, UCLA
Bills get the top quarterback they were looking for. In real life, they’ll probably have to trade up to get him. That isn’t allowed here, and Rosen falls to a team that needs him bad.

13, Washington: LB Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech
Edmunds can do so much so well. Washington’s thrilled to pair him with Zach Brown on the inside, and let him rush the passer off the edge in sub packages. Dude has serious potential.

14, Green Bay: DE Marcus Davenport, Texas-San Antonio
Davenport’s a freak, and could provide the defensive pressure Green Bay has sorely missed. Aaron Rodgers can’t outscore everybody.

15, Arizona: QB Lamar Jackson, Lousiville
Cardinals need a quarterback. They get a playmaker who can sling it.

16, Baltimore: WR Calvin Ridley, Alabama
The Ravens need receiver help, even with Michael Crabtree and Willie Snead in the mix for multiple years.

17, L.A. Chargers: OT Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame
Chargers need a long-term solution at tackle, especially over two injury-prone veterans. McGlinchey’s the steady presence they’re looking for.

18, Seattle: DE Harold Landry, Boston College
The Seahawks like athletes creating pressure. The Seahawks get a talented one who can get after the quarterback.

19, Dallas: WR D.J. Moore, Maryland
Receiver is a pressing need with Dez Bryant recently cut.

20, Detroit: DT Taven Bryan, Florida
The Lions need an improved run defense and an interior pass rush. Bryan can handle both requirements.

21, Cincinnati: C/G James Daniels, Iowa
Bengals need help on the interior offensive line. Daniels fits in a center and guard, but is the draft’s best middle man.

22, Buffalo: OG Isaiah Wynn, Georgia
The Bills and their new quarterback Josh Rosen need protection up front after losing starting guards. Wynn should step right in and start.

23, New England: T Kolton Miller, UCLA
Miller’s a near consensus pick to become a Patriot. Who am I to argue? The Bruins could be a standout left tackle.

24, Carolina: CB Mike Hughes, Central Florida
Hughes has prototypical NFL size, and could be the consistent outside cornerback the Panthers need.

25, Tennessee: LB Leighton Vander Esch, Boise State
The Titans need an interior linebacker and get one of this draft’s best.

26, Atlanta: DT De’Ron Payne, Alabama
He’s an automatic upgrade on run defense, with some pass-rush ability. Fills a major need.

27, New Orleans: TE Hayden Hurst, South Carolina
The Saints need a dynamic tight end pretty bad. Drew Brees gets another weapon.

28, Pittsburgh: LB Rashaan Evans, Alabama
Evans is a thumper. Perfect fit in Pittsburgh. He can play inside, and rush the passer.

29, Jacksonville: WR Cortland Sutton, SMU
The Jaguars add a pass catcher after losing Allen Robinson in free agency.

30, Minnesota: G Will Hernandez, Texas-El Paso
The aggressive, physical interior lineman to led a line in need of significant help.

31, New England: CB Jaire Alexander, Louisville
The Patriots need coverage help. Alexander can provide that outside or in the slot.

32, Philadelphia: RB Derrius Guice, LSU
A powerful runner with great speed, vision and balance. He’s tough to take down.

Why Raiders should add running back to help Josh Jacobs, Jalen Richard

Why Raiders should add running back to help Josh Jacobs, Jalen Richard

Josh Jacobs is a feature back in every sense. The Raiders star rusher can do most everything well and is capable of playing all three downs. He can carry a significant workload, as he did during an exemplary 2019 campaign where he finished second in AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year voting, and frankly should have won.

He had 242 carries for 1,150 yards and seven touchdowns in 13 games, proving to be a tough and elusive runner who gains significant yards after contact.

Jalen Richard’s an excellent complement as a third-down back who can pass protect well and is an excellent receiver out of the backfield.

While those two can cover every offensive scenario, the Raiders should still work to add another running back.

That was clear at the end of last year when Jacobs was shut down with a shoulder injury he played through for weeks. DeAndre Washington filled in as the primary ball carrier and fared well but was allowed to hit the open market, where he remains today.

The Raiders could and should look to upgrade that position and not just by finding a backup. They need someone with a different style, maybe a big and bruising back to accent what the Raiders do offensively.

They tried to do that last season, when they worked out every veteran running back under the sun but didn’t sign anyone until Rod Smith came aboard late.

The sixth-year journeyman re-signed with the Raiders on a low-cost contract.

The NFL draft will have quality options available later in the draft, where the Raiders have three third-round picks and one each in the fourth and fifth.

It might take a third-round pick to land Boston College’s A.J. Dillion, a 247-pound bruiser who can run downhill and pick up short yardage by moving the pile. Draft analysts say he’s good at reading blocks and following his assignment, something important in Jon Gruden’s offense.

Vanderbilt’s Ke'Shawn Vaughn is an option who might be available later. He isn’t quite as big but has the toughness required to get hard yards and could absorb some blows to keep Jacobs healthy and fresh.

This isn’t a full-on draft breakdown, so we won’t go down the list of every scheme fit available for selection. There aren’t many free agent dollars left, so it’s hard to see another runner coming in.

The Raiders can survive with the depth chart they’ve got, especially with fullback Alec Ingold able to carry the ball effectively when called upon. But the NFL is trending toward two back benefits, even when there’s an obvious alpha like Jacobs.

Gruden has historically preferred feeding multiple backs, as he did in his previous Raiders stint with Tyrone Wheatley and Napoleon Kauffman, and later with Wheatley and Charlie Garner.

[RELATED: Raiders reportedly meet virtually with Herbert]

Gruden has also ridden one back pretty hard, as he did with Cadillac Williams while with Tampa Bay.

The Raiders are more than capable of rolling with the crew they have but could use to make the backfield a little better before the 2020 season begins by filling a relatively low-ranking need.

NFL rumors: Raiders meeting with Oregon QB Justin Herbert before draft

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USATSI

NFL rumors: Raiders meeting with Oregon QB Justin Herbert before draft

The Raiders are meeting with former Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert on an official top-30 visit. Well, the term “visit” might be a stretch considering nobody is allowed inside NFL facilities due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Pre-draft meetings still are happening, but those face-to-face interactions now are done over FaceTime or Zoom or Skype or whatever video conferencing platform you prefer.

NFL Media's Ian Rapoport reported Monday that Herbert will be meeting with the Raiders in this way, as the Silver and Black try to refine their options in the NFL draft.

Each team gets 30 meetings during the pre-draft process, though they’re often used on players from lower rounds or with character questions they need to examine further.

This meeting is sure to raise some eyebrows considering Herbert’s position and eventual draft status, but this should be viewed as an exploratory exercise of the Raiders doing due diligence.

[RELATED: How Raiders' NFL free-agency signings could impact returning players]

Herbert should be taken in the NFL draft’s top 10, well before the Raiders draft at Nos. 12 and 19. The Raiders have the capital to trade up in the draft if they choose, but it would be costly to move up high enough to get beyond the quarterback starved Miami Dolphins at No. 5 and the Los Angeles Chargers at No. 6.

They also have a quality quarterback room with Derek Carr as the starter and Marcus Mariota as the backup. There are far more pressing needs at receiver, cornerback and safety and maybe defensive line that could use talent available in the first round.

It’s possible the Raiders draft a quarterback later in the draft, but it seems unlikely in the first round.

Let’s also recall that the Raiders met with top quarterbacks Kyler Murray and Dwayne Haskins before last year’s draft and didn’t take either guy.

While the Raiders don’t have an immediate need at quarterback, general manager Mike Mayock always says the team will consider upgrades at every position. Head coach Jon Gruden loves meeting with quarterbacks and learning how they think.

Herbert is ranked high among the NFL draft’s best options at quarterback, typically third behind Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa. He has ideal size for a quarterback at 6-foot-6 and 236 pounds, with great arm strength and field vision. He can throw on the move and is confident throwing the ball downfield and making smart decisions going with shorter and intermediate options.

NBC Sports Bay Area’s latest mock draft has Herbert going No. 5 to the Dolphins.

NFL Network also reported that Herbert has a video conference scheduled with the Bolts.