CeeDee Lamb

2020 NFL mock draft: Mel Kiper Jr. explains his two Raiders selections

2020 NFL mock draft: Mel Kiper Jr. explains his two Raiders selections

In an offseason full of Tom Brady-to-Las-Vegas rumors, one thing is for certain: The Raiders must find upgrades at receiver and linebacker. 

With two first-round picks in the 2020 NFL Draft, the Raiders can do exactly that in slightly over two months. They're sure to look at the free-agent market as well, but finding instant contributors on rookie contracts is a must for a team looking to make the leap next season. 

This is especially true with the Raiders reportedly willing to offer Brady a two-year, $60 million contract.

Still, Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock can shore up their two biggest positions of need right away in the draft. That's exactly what ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. did in his latest mock draft. Kiper gave the Raiders receiver Jerry Jeudy at No. 12 and linebacker Kenneth Murray at No. 19. 

The longtime draft expert explained his selections in a conference call on Wednesday. 

"I have Kenneth Murray going there at 19, linebacker from Oklahoma, and have them taking Jerry Jeudy from Alabama at 12," Kiper said. "So you get the linebacker -- whether it's Murray or Patrick Queen from LSU at 19, then you get the receiver. I think it's CeeDee Lamb from Oklahoma or it's Jeudy from Alabama at No. 12." 

In an ideal world for the Raiders, Clemson's do-it-all hybrid linebacker Isaiah Simmons would fall right in their lap. But Kiper said he can't see that happening without a major trade from Mayock. He has the Jacksonville Jaguars selecting Simmons with the No. 9 pick. 

Josh Schrock and I, however, have Simmons going even higher at No. 4 to the New York Giants in our latest mock draft. We do agree with the positions Kiper has the Raiders targeting, but gave the Silver and Black his second options. 

While Kiper has Lamb going to the New York Jets at No. 11 and Jeudy to the Raiders one pick later, we sent Lamb to Las Vegas and Jeudy being taken by the Indianapolis Colts with the next pick. The two are that close and either one would instantly boost the Raiders' receiver corps. 

[RELATED: How Raiders' 2019 rookies are laying bedrock for success]

Murray originally wound up as a Raider in our first two editions of our mock draft, but Queen seems like he has more upside and is a better fit for the modern NFL. Murray is a fine athlete in his own regard, but Queen is much more explosive and better in coverage.

Queen's side-to-side range is what truly sets him apart. 

Either way, the consensus is out that the Raiders likely will target receivers and linebackers in this year's draft. Any combination of Jeudy, Lamb, Murray or Queen will be huge for the Raiders' rise after a seven-win season. 

NFL rumors: Why Patriots are willing to let Tom Brady test free agency

NFL rumors: Why Patriots are willing to let Tom Brady test free agency

Tom Brady will be returning for his 21st NFL season. We just don't know where No. 12 will be calling plays in 2020.

The 42-year-old is set to become a free agent in March, and while most expect him to return to the New England Patriots, it's clear he'll have a number of suitors, including the Raiders, vying for his services.

A report leaked on Super Bowl Sunday that Jon Gruden and the Raiders will pursue Brady if he failed to re-sign with the Patriots by the start of the new league season. Most assume Brady and the Patriots will come to terms quickly, but owner Robert Kraft reportedly is willing to let the six-time Super Bowl champion see what's out on the market before coming back to the Patriots with his demands, NFL Media's Ian Rapoport reported Monday, citing sources. 

The Patriots reportedly are willing to offer Brady upward of $30 million a year, but if they aren't able to improve the offensive arsenal around him, he could look to spend his final NFL seasons away from Foxboro, Mass.

If Bill Belichick and Kraft do allow Brady to reach free agency, that could open the door for Gruden, who has a good relationship with Brady, to make his pitch for TB12 to wear silver and black. While it still feels like a long shot, the Patriots allowing Brady to take meetings gives Gruden the opportunity to sell the greatest quarterback in history on becoming a Raider.

A chance is all the Raiders can ask for.

The partnership would make Brady the face of the Las Vegas Raiders, giving the Silver and Black a star to market in their inaugural season in Sin City.  The Raiders do have a dynamic running back in Josh Jacobs, a blossoming star in tight end Darren Waller and reliable slot receiver Hunter Renfrow.

But in order for the Raiders to lure Brady to Vegas, Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock would have to promise to bring in more weapons on the outside to compliment Tyrell Williams, who struggled in his first season with the Raiders. Gruden likely will use one of the Raiders' two first-round picks on a dynamic receiver such as Oklahoma's CeeDee Lamb or Alabama's Jerry Jeudy. But with two picks in the top 19, the Raiders could promise to use both picks on young star receivers and patch up their defense in other ways in order to get Brady the arsenal needed to compete in the AFC West.

[RELATED: Carr unfazed by questions about Raiders future, brother says]

Brady moving from New England to Las Vegas isn't likely. They'll be countless NFL teams clamoring for Brady's service once he hits free agency, some more equipped to win immediately than the Raiders. 

But if the Patriots allow Brady to truly hit the open market, it gives Gruden a puncher's chance to bring the GOAT to Sin City.

Mel Kiper NFL mock draft 2020: Raiders pick two Oklahoma prospects

ceedeelambusa2.jpg
USATSI

Mel Kiper NFL mock draft 2020: Raiders pick two Oklahoma prospects

For the second consecutive season, the Oakland Las Vegas Raiders will have multiple first-round selections in the upcoming 2020 NFL Draft. It'll happen right in the team’s new backyard along the famous Strip.

After a strong start, the Raiders faded in the second half of the 2019 season, finishing with a dismal 7-9 record. Where will general manager Mike Mayock allocate his precious draft picks come April?

ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. released his first mock draft Friday and has the Raiders addressing both sides of the ball in the first round.

No. 12: CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma

As arguably the top receiver in this year’s draft class, this would be an absolute steal. Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams were expected to form a dynamic receiving duo for the Raiders in 2019, but Brown’s brief and bizarre tenure combined with Williams’ injury struggles left the team with few consistent targets on the outside.

Kiper wrote: 

Lamb is a big-time playmaker with great hands who will step in, catch a bunch of passes and score touchdowns.

Whether the Raiders have Derek Carr or another veteran quarterback under center next season, Lamb would provide an immediate No. 1 option to bring some much-needed balance to coach Jon Gruden’s offense.

After a dominant, three-touchdown performance against Texas this season, Lamb even shouted out a Raiders legend with his postgame 'fit.

[RELATED: Raiders should pay attention to these 10 Senior Bowl stars]

No. 19: Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma

With one of the picks from the bounty acquired in the Khalil Mack trade with the Chicago Bears, Kiper has Las Vegas shoring up its linebacking corps with another Sooner.

Murray is a chiseled, gifted talent with great athleticism for his size (6-foot-2, 240). He needs to improve in coverage, but he has the speed to match tight ends in space and is so fun to watch on tape as a tackler and penetrator.

With five linebackers set to hit free agency, this is a major position of need for the Raiders. Murray had 102 tackles and four sacks for Oklahoma in his final collegiate season.