Raiders

Raiders

The NFL draft is nearly upon us. We’re less than two weeks from the main event, and fan excitement is certainly increasing as the Raiders prepare for a vital draft where they have two first-round picks at Nos. 12 and 19 overall.

This offers the potential to address major needs, which was the primary focus of questions for this week’s Raiders mailbag.

What will the Raiders do? How will they proceed through the process, hoping to duplicate the success of last year’s class? How will this year’s unique circumstances, with a virtual draft setup due to coronavirus concerns, change things?

We addressed all that and more in this week’s Q&A:

Question: What do you think the Raiders do with their first 2 picks? - William Scott on Twitter

Answer: Direct and to the point. I like it. And while I reserve the right to change my mind up until draft day, here’s my bold prediction at this point. I think the Raiders take one of the big three WRs at No. 12. I think they take Henry Ruggs, with CeeDee Lamb already off the board and Gruden looking for his Tyreek Hill. Then I think they trade down from No. 19, maybe really late in the first round while hunting for a pick in the second. Then they use the late first-rounder on the best cornerback available.

Q: Could the Raiders trade up to No. 3 and take Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah? - @RealAlexValerio on Twitter

 

A: The Raiders have the draft capital to make such a move, but it’ll probably cost both of this year’s first-round picks to do it. Using Draftek.com’s updated trade chart as a rough guide, the No. 3 overall pick is worth 2,200 points. The Nos. 12 and 19 selections are worth 2,075.

That might need a kicker, or, more likely, the Lions would just really want to move down. Are you willing to give up the chance at two top-tier prospects to nab an elite cornerback talent? Tough call. Then the Raiders would use the No. 3 pick and, in this scenario, not pick again until No. 80. That doesn’t seem like a viable Mayock/Gruden strategy at this stage of their roster rebuild.

They could use draft capital from 2021 and maybe keep one 2020 first-rounder, but that’s a tough call as well. It’s all about what the Raiders think of Okudah as compared to other defensive backs in the class and where they think they can get an instant-impact receiver.

Q: I keep seeing the Raiders linked to drafting a DT, but I think we are all set at that position. Give me your thoughts on the Raiders using an early draft pick on a DT or if at all? - Jon Davis on Facebook

A: The interior defensive line is a need for a couple reasons. No. 1: Maliek Collins only signed a one-year deal and could be looking for a hefty payday if he has a great year. He could be a rental. The Raiders need a long-term solution at three-technique especially, a vital part of Paul Guenther’s scheme.

No. 2: The Raiders have Collins, Johnathan Hankins and Maurice Hurst set, but they sent a shot across P.J. Hall’s bow at the combine and might be looking for better. It all depends on who is sitting there when they pick. If Auburn's Derrick Brown slides to No. 12, he would be tough to pass up. Would they raise an eyebrow if Javon Kinlaw is there at No. 19? It’s more about the tackle available than an absolute pressing need. Stay tuned to the website, because we’re breaking down the draft’s defensive tackles on Thursday.

Q: Question about Lamb, Jerry Jeudy, and Ruggs. Amari Cooper did not live up to draft status due both to inconsistent hands and compete level. How would you rate these top 3 WR in this draft in these 2 areas? -- Ken Biel on Facebook

A: While Cooper has his issues, he’s the best receiver prospect taken in the first round since 2015, was good for the Raiders for a while and ultimately fetched a first-round pick from Dallas. Not too bad. To answer your question directly, let’s address each guy in those respects: Lamb is super competitive and a playmaker at every level and has great tracking ability and ball skills.

 

Jeudy is the most like Cooper, and drops based on focus have been an issue for him, but his hands hare good and he makes tough catches in traffic. He’s known as an extremely hard worker. Ruggs is super competitive and confident in his raw speed and ability, consistently making big plays downfield and is said to have good hands and a big catch radius. All three guys fit the bill in the categories you mentioned. 

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Q: Could or should the Raiders move down from Nos. 12 and 19 and get some 2nd/3rd rounders? Too much talent in 2nd / 3rd/4th rounds to not be involved. - Anthony Chavez

A: I think the Raiders would like to do that, if possible. The No. 19 pick is the perfect trade-down spot, especially if they can net something in the second round or early third. Mayock made a ton of minor trades last year, deftly moving around the draft board to get guys the desired. I think we’ll see something similar again this year, though it does take two to tango. They wanted to drop out of the fourth slot last year but couldn’t make a deal and took Ferrell there anyway. Mayock loves the second round, and I believe he’ll find a way to get a pick there.

Q: How difficult is it going to be to find those undrafted gems like an Alec Ingold with the current limitations on meetings and workouts? - @aegarcia9762 on Twitter

A: Great question. The short answer: It’ll be harder. That’s why Steelers GM Kevin Colbert suggested adding three more rounds to the draft and shouldn’t have been laughed out of the room. Those prospects that will likely go undrafted have been identified and will be wooed during and shortly after the draft but losing all pre-draft meetings and pro days to research them further is a major setback.

So, is the fact that there won’t be a standard rookie minicamp, which normally occurs right after the draft. The crew is part draft picks, part undrafted signings and a ton of tryout players. That’s how the Raiders ended up with Jalen Richard. He was invited for a tryout, stuck around and is now an offensive fixture. It will be harder to find, woo and develop undrafted players worthy of a roster spot, a real setback for both players and teams alike.

Q: Thanks Scott for all the good work. Do you think Nate Peterman or DeShone Kiser has any trade value come draft weekend? Probably can’t keep all 4 QBs - Mike Tarnovechi on Facebook

 

A: The Raiders certainly hope they do, even if it’s for a late-round selection. That’s probably why Kizer hasn’t been cut yet.

They could go into camp with four quarterbacks, even if they don’t draft one, though in my opinion that spreads reps too thin in a training camp scenario with OTAs or minicamps leading up to it and Marcus Mariota just learning the system. Gruden really likes Peterman, so he could stick around or be dangled as bait even for something late in the draft.

Q: Should the Raiders focus on offense or defense in the draft? - Angel Reyes on Facebook

A: They spent lots of money on defense in free agency but should continue stocking that side of the ball. It’s more about positional needs that units, and I think the Raiders would ideally address receiver, cornerback, running back, interior defensive line, offensive tackle and quarterback, should they feel so inclined, during the draft.

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Q: Any word on whether the team will try to resign Dion Jordan and/or Will Compton? Hope you all are staying safe!! - Michelle McCliman on Facebook

A: Same to you, Michelle. Always great to hear from you and thanks for being a long-time participant in mailbags and live chats.

In regard to Jordan and Compton, those two were impressive a year ago but may have to wait until after the draft for a possible return. It would have to be at a minimum number as well. I could see Compton returning as a backup and special teams player if that’s something he wants to do. Jordan could get more elsewhere but could be back to compete with P.J. Hall if his market’s cool and the Raiders don’t address defensive tackle in the draft.