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 give Conley green light, Melifonwu 'doesn't look close at all'

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Raiders give Conley green light, Melifonwu 'doesn't look close at all'

The Raiders have been cautious with Gareon Conley’s return from shin surgery. The cornerback’s clearance turned from red to yellow earlier in the offseason program, but finally went green in time to start the OTAs.

Last year’s first-round pick was reportedly a first-team cover man during the Raiders first OTA session on Tuesday. It was one of three open to the media.

The Raiders plan for him to be there throughout the regular season, and believe he has the makings of a No. 1 cornerback.

Head coach Jon Gruden has been excited to see the Ohio State product in action, as part of cornerback corps also featuring Rashaan Melvin and Daryl Worley.

“Yeah, it’s great to see Conley out there,” Gruden said after Tuesday’s OTA session. “We’re counting on him. We need him. But to see Rashaan Melvin and Conley and [Daryl] Worley competing is really exciting.

Conley was impressive during his first offseason program, until he hurt his shin during the team’s June 2017 minicamp. Conley barely played after that, with two games action and a handful of limited practices. He had surgery to repair his shin in Nov. 2017, and was eased back into action somewhat.

Conley doesn’t have an injury history save last year’s mishap, and could have a real impact if he remains healthy and continues to progress.

“Conley is special,” Gruden said. “He’s a top pick in this draft for a reason. I think from a confidence standpoint, he needs to get some work in out here.”

The player Oakland selected after Conley last year still hasn’t been cleared to work. Safety Obi Melifonwu wasn’t able to participate in Tuesday’s team drills, the first time this offseason offense and defense can play against each other.

The UConn product missed last season’s first half recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery, and then needed hip surgery after the season. He still isn’t ready for a return.

“It doesn’t look close at all,” Gruden said. “I’ll leave it at that. He doesn’t look close, to me, at all.”

Physical issues are problematic for a player looking to earn a role on the team. The team is stocked at safety, with Karl Joseph, Reggie Nelson and Marcus Gilchrist leading the way.

“He doesn’t look ready to roll yet,” Gruden said. “So, I don’t let anybody practice without being able to go physically. He doesn’t look like he’s 100 percent. I haven’t seen much of Obi except in the training room.”

NOTES

-- Khalil Mack was not present for the start of voluntary OTAs, as expected. The elite edge rusher has missed the entire offseason program to this point, withholding services while waiting for a big-money contract extension the the Raiders have budgeted to give him. 

-- Gruden said receiver Amari Cooper is dealing with a hamstring injury.

-- Left tackle Donald Penn is working his way back from foot surgery, and participated in individual drills on Tuesday. He was held back during team sessions, leaving David Sharpe to take first-team reps at left tackle. Breno Giacomini manned the first-team right tackle spot.

-- Rookies Kolton Miller (left tackle) and Brandon Parker (right tackle) worked with reserve units at this stage. Gruden was impressed with how both players absorbed the offense.

-- Fourth-round cornerback Nick Nelson remains out recovering from meniscus surgery. As previously reported, he’s expected back for training camp.

-- The Raiders are planning to have training camp practices against another team, but Gruden didn’t want to reveal the opponent until arrangements are finalized.

Raiders acquire 2016 second-round QB from Jets

Raiders acquire 2016 second-round QB from Jets

The Raiders added a fourth quarterback to the roster, trading a conditional 2019 seventh-round pick to the New York Jets for Christian Hackenberg.

Jets head coach Todd Bowles announced the transaction during a Tuesday meeting with local media.

Hackenberg joins a quarterback room that already contains starter Derek Carr and reserves EJ Manuel and Connor Cook.

Hackenberg was a second-round draft choice in 2016, but never played a regular-season NFL snap. He dressed for just five games.

He’ll be competing for a roster spot in Oakland, as the Raiders will keep a maximum of three quarterbacks.

The Jets were clearly looking for new signal callers this offseason and got them, signing Teddy Bridgewater in free agency before drafting USC’s Sam Darnold third overall in the NFL draft.

Hackenberg took a thinly veiled shot at the Jets Tuesday morning, questioning why a throwing motion overhauled by private coaches wasn't done earlier by the Jets. He was traded later that day

Hackenberg was taken two rounds before Cook in the 2016 draft – the Raiders traded up to get Cook in the fourth -- and both guys have failed to find footing on an NFL roster. Cook has been the No. 3 quarterback in two professional seasons, save an emergency playoff start in the 2016 season.

Manuel is older, though fared well in limited action last year.

Hackenberg has plenty of arm strength but has struggled with accuracy, and couldn’t secure the Jets’ starting spot that was most always up for grabs.

"I'm 23 and I got a lot of ball ahead of me," Hackenberg said Tuesday per the New York Daily News. "Hell, my career hasn't even started yet. So I'm excited about what the future holds."

News of the trade broke after Raiders head coach Jon Gruden’s Tuesday media session, meaning he was not immediately available to comment on the transaction.