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.

Raiders watch running backs Damien Harris, Josh Jacobs at Alabama Pro Day

Raiders watch running backs Damien Harris, Josh Jacobs at Alabama Pro Day

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – General manager Mike Mayock was the most prominent Raider at Alabama’s pro day. He wasn’t the only one with a keen eye on the Crimson Tide’s NFL draft prospects.

New running backs coach Kirby Wilson was on hand Tuesday in Tuscaloosa, Ala. shadowing Josh Jacobs and Damien Harris. The Raiders remain unsettled at the position, and Wilson was afforded the luxury of checking out the draft’s top two rushing prospects at the same time.

Jacobs and Harris should be the first running backs taken off the board. Both guys could be Raiders targets, and will be evaluated closely as they determine which players to take and when.

Both guys came off well during Tuesday’s workouts.

It’s odd to see top prospects from the same school, sharing carries throughout illustrious careers. There’s no competition between the two for who gets drafted first, though both should be gone in two rounds. They just want to show well throughout the pre-draft process.

“The whole situation has never phased us,” Harris said. “It has never even been a conversation about who goes first. I know that our friendship means more than where either of us get drafted.

"Josh is a guy that I have looked up to, and I hope that he has looked up to me and that I can be a positive influence in his life.”

Those two shared carries for the Crimson Tide, but will be drafted in places with an expectation they’ll carry a significant load. Harris is a tough runner capable of pass protecting well and being an every-down player.

He has solid game tape and didn’t feel pressure to impress at Alabama’s pro day, though he went out and executed well.

“I wasn’t necessarily looking to wow anybody or impress anybody,” Harris said. “I just wanted to be myself and compete at a high level with guys I played with for a long time. I was able to do that today.”

Jacobs didn’t run at the NFL Scouting Combine and was generally limited there due to a minor groin injury. He ran the 40-yard dash in the 4.6s at Alabama’s pro day.

The number is but a minor component of his draft evaluation – Jacobs wasn’t available to the media Tuesday -- and it shouldn’t greatly impact his draft stock.

"He didn’t run as well as you would hope at 4.6 but I thought the field workout was outstanding, specifically him catching the football,”analyst Daniel Jeremiah said on the NFL Network’s broadcast of Alabama pro day. “...The 4.6 is not ideal, but it’s not going to cause him to fall very far."

Analysts generally consider Jacobs the draft’s top running backs and possibly the position’s only first-round pick.

Jacobs has ideal size and is a physical, three-down back. He’s also a quality receiving option. His carry total was relatively low, though he was productive over 140 touches this season.

Harris was used more during his Alabama tenure, averaging 6.4 yards per carry while exceeding 1,000 yards twice in his four-year career.

[RELATED: Quinnen Williams never takes rise to top NFL draft prospect for granted]

Continued success is the goal for Harris and Jacobs, ready to move on and represent their university well.

“Being a running back at the University of Alabama is something to take very serious, something I take a lot of pride in,” Harris said. “To be listed with some of the greats to come from this school is an honor. It’s truly special and it’s humbling.”

Quinnen Williams never takes rise to top NFL draft prospect for granted

Quinnen Williams never takes rise to top NFL draft prospect for granted

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Alabama holds an annual junior pro day in early March for players remaining in college who should be legitimate future NFL draft prospects.

Quinnen Williams wasn’t on last year’s participant list. There was no reason why he should after spending 2017 as a reserve defensive end.

“I wasn’t even thought about in terms of the NFL,” Williams said Tuesday at Alabama’s Crisp Indoor Practice Facility. “No scouts knew me.”

They know Williams now. He was the most consistently dominant player in college football on tape last year, one prominent NFL draft analyst said, following a successful position switch. Williams was an overwhelming nose guard, totaling eight sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss in 2018.

Now he’s an elite NFL draft prospect expected to go in the top 5 overall. The rarity of his rocket-ship rise isn’t lost on Williams, who understands and appreciates his standing after a breakout calendar year.

In reality, however, it hasn’t even been that long since Williams flew stealth, well under the radar.

“It was like seven months back that I wasn’t even starting, wasn’t even thinking about the draft or what came next,” Williams said. “It just sinks in sometimes, being here and that I don’t even have to perform. It’s crazy to be where I’m at now.”

Williams didn’t join Crimson Tide teammates in position drills or standardized pre-draft testing. There was no point in that after an excellent combine performance where he wowed most everyone with blazing speed and shocking agility for someone over 300 pounds.

Williams also had a procedure on his finger right after the combine – he damaged some ligaments in a game last November, but played through it – and didn’t want to risk a rehab setback by a pro day where he had nothing to prove.

Williams’ tape is awesome. His testing was A1, and he comes off jovial and football savvy in private meetings. General manger John Lynch and VP of player personnel Adam Peters represented the 49ers, who own the No. 2 overall pick and were among teams meeting with Williams on Tuesday. 

General manager Mike Mayock lead a Raiders contingent at Alabama’s pro day, though the Silver and Black have met with him before.

Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther wasn’t in Tuscaloosa, Ala. for the pro day, but there’s time to schedule an expected private workout with him before the draft. Williams is a realistic option should the Raiders stay put at No. 4.

He wasn’t viewed as a top draft pick prior to this year, but the talent has always been there. Williams worked extremely hard to turn potential into production and capitalize on the new opportunity to create havoc on the defensive interior.

[RELATED: Who are consensus picks for Raiders, 49ers?]

That’s something Williams never, ever takes for granted.

“That’s why I do everything full speed,” Williams said. “I know how hard I had to work to get to this spot, and now that I’m here I’m not just going to feel satisfied. There’s more work to do. I’m very passionate about that fact.”