Ranking Raiders' top 20 defensive players heading into 2020 NFL Draft

Ranking Raiders' top 20 defensive players heading into 2020 NFL Draft

The Raiders spent big in free agency and focused on the defense.

They added two, three-down linebackers in Cory Littleton and Nick Kwiatkoski. They bolstered their interior line with Maliek Collins, a powerful nose tackle who thrives at beating double teams. In comes edge rusher Carl Nassib, replacing Benson Mayowa as a key pass-rushing rotational piece. After the Eli Apple contract fell through, the Raiders signed Damarious Randall, a versatile defensive back who began his career at corner before moving to safety with the Cleveland Browns.

Those additions are expected to pair well with returning youngsters Maxx Crosby, Trayvon Mullen, Clelin Ferrell and Johnathan Abram to create a defense that should, in theory, be a lot better than the unit that was decimated by injuries, fatigue and an overall lack of talent last season.

To be sure, the Raiders still need help in the secondary and that should come early in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft. But for now, defensive coordinator Paul Guenther's unit is much better than it was a season ago.

Let's rank the top 20 Raiders defensive players after free agency. I'm sure you'll have issues and concerns with this list, and that's more than fine. Let's debate.


NFL odds: Raiders' Josh Jacobs a favorite to score first Las Vegas TD


NFL odds: Raiders' Josh Jacobs a favorite to score first Las Vegas TD

The Raiders’ home opener in Las Vegas is scheduled for Sept. 21 on “Monday Night Football” against the New Orleans Saints.

Which player will score the first regular-season touchdown at Allegiant Stadium?

You can bet on that proposition at the Westgate sportsbook, which posted odds on 18 players.

“They always talk about things that are established years later. Trivia-type things, like who was the player that scored the first touchdown at the stadium in Las Vegas,” Westgate vice president of risk Jeff Sherman said. ” We just wanted a wagering option similar to that.”

The Saints are 4½-point favorites over the Raiders, and the total is 50½ points.

[RELATED: Raiders' three key camp battles]

New Orleans running back Alvin Kamara is the 5-1 favorite to score the first TD, Saints wideout Michael Thomas is the 6-1 second choice, and Las Vegas running back Josh Jacobs is the 8-1 third pick.



2021 NFL Mock Draft: Raiders pick North Dakota State QB Trey Lance


2021 NFL Mock Draft: Raiders pick North Dakota State QB Trey Lance

Is there room in Las Vegas for yet another quarterback? Maybe.

In a 2021 NFL Mock Draft by CBS Sports, writer R.J. White has the Raiders selecting North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance with the No 12 overall pick in the first round. 

The keyword White uses here is “upside,” and that word is synonymous with Jon Gruden’s offensive strategy. He wants it all.

But what would that mean with who they have right now? 

[RAIDERS TALK: Listen to the latest episode]

Derek Carr holds that top spot, and despite the rumors of him and Gruden not seeing eye-to-eye, the two apparently get along swimmingly. Naturally, sometimes they’ll bump heads, but that’s standard.

Behind him is Marcus Mariota who has the experience and is a great leader. He also stands to push Carr to be a better quarterback. He’s signed through 2021 with Nathan Peterman, a Gruden favorite, rounding up the current squad.

For Carr, well, it could initially appear to be bad news for the QB who was booed off the field for the team’s final game in Oakland, but that might not be the case.

He sent a strong message to the haters after that happened, but the Mariota pressures could be a positive. He’s not going anywhere, but this could be a glimpse into the future. 

[RELATED: Carr sends message to the haters]

But … for the heck of it. Here’s a clip of Lance:

Carr gets a lot of hate. That was one of Pat McAfee’s questions when he spoke to former Raiders receiver Jordy Nelson recently. But he knows that’s all part of the package. Despite some rumors of trade talks during the combine, those appeared to have died down.