Kenneth Murray

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. 

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

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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.

2019 Peach Bowl: LSU, Oklahoma NFL draft prospects for Raiders fans to watch

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2019 Peach Bowl: LSU, Oklahoma NFL draft prospects for Raiders fans to watch

Everything is in front of the Raiders on Sunday. A win over the Denver Broncos and three other favorable results would vault them into the AFC playoffs.

While Jon Gruden focuses on the task at hand, some possible future Raiders could be taking the field Saturday when the 2019 College Football Playoffs Semifinals. The first tilt in the double-dip will feature the No. 1-seeded LSU Tigers and the No. 4-seeded Oklahoma Sooners in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

The top-seeded Tigers were led by Heisman Trophy winner and presumptive No. 1 overall draft pick Joe Burrow. The senior quarterback put together an electric campaign in LSU's revamped offense and has put himself on the fast track to being the next face of the Cincinnati Bengals. 

Meanwhile, the Sooners survived a midseason hiccup against Kansas State to win the Big 12 championship on the back of an improved defense and electric plays by star receiver CeeDee Lamb and quarterback Jalen Hurts.

The Raiders have two first-round draft picks in the upcoming draft and have a number of needs players on both teams could fill. While Burrow won't be wearing silver and black, six other players who suit up Saturday would be a great fit for the next great Raiders draft class. 

Here are six players for Raiders fans and scouts to watch in the 2019 Peach Bowl.

CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma

This one is a no-brainer. If Lamb is on the board when the Raiders go on the clock, the Silver and Black should run to the podium to make him the newest Raider.

The Oklahoma junior receiver has all the tools to be a No. 1 pass-catcher in the NFL. At 6-foot-2, 191 pounds, Lamb has the size needed to play on the perimeter in the NFL. He is a wizard at creating separation at all levels. His hands are tremendous and he is otherworldy in contested-catch situations. He doesn't have lightning speed, but it's good enough to make big plays after the catch and be a downfield threat.

He might end up being the best wide receiver in a loaded draft class, and he's the most NFL ready.

Oh, and he rocked a Fred Biletnikoff jersey after torching Texas.

Make the pick. 

K'Lavon Chaisson, Edge, LSU

Despite drafting Clelin Ferrell and Maxx Crosby last year, the Raiders still need help on the edge. Oakland's pass rush enters Week 17 with only 30 sacks and needs to find a way to generate more pressure on opposing quarterbacks if they plan to take the next step.

Enter: K'Lavon Chaisson.

The redshirt sophomore has the physical tools that make you think he can be a star on the edge in the NFL. He entered the season needing to show consistency and stay healthy. He had moments of greatness. He beat potential top-10 pick Andrew Thomas on the edge in the SEC Championship Game. He gave Alabama's Alex Leatherwood some issues as well.

Still, he needs to add some strength and could use another year at LSU. If he comes out, the Raiders likely will look his way.

Grant Delpit, S, LSU

Yes, the Raiders drafted Johnathan Abram in the first round last year. No, that shouldn't preclude them from looking at Delpit if he's on the board in the middle of the first round.

The LSU junior has had a down season after a breakout sophomore season that saw him combine for 12 interceptions and pass breakups. Injuries have contributed to a lot of missed tackles for Delpit, but he still only has allowed nine catches in coverage.

Pairing Delpit with Abram and Trayvon Mullen could give the Raiders the makings of the next elite NFL secondary.

Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma

If you've watched the Raiders at all this season, you know there's a big hole in the middle of their defense. After Vontaze Burfict was suspended for the season following a Week 4 hit against the Indianapolis Colts, the Raiders' defense struggled to keep it together.

The Raiders have had a massive need at linebacker for years, and Murray might be the man to lock down the middle of the Silver and Black's defense.

A freaky athlete, the Oklahoma junior can cover sideline-to-sideline and is a sure tackler. After leading the Sooners in tackles last season, Murray upped his total from 51 to 64 this season.

He'd be a slam-dunk pick for the Raiders.

Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU

There's little chance the Raiders will take a cornerback in the first round and that's where Fulton will go.

Still, if he's available when the Raiders pick, they will be tempted.

Fulton was the highest-graded cornerback in the SEC. He's an elite cover corner who can run with the best receivers in the game. He'll get a tasty matchup Saturday when he gets the opportunity to try and shut down Lamb.

Mullen is starting to blossom into a shutdown corner, and while corner isn't an immediate need, Fulton would go nicely on the other side.

[RELATED: How Raiders rookie Mullen responded from 'scary situation']

Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU

If the Raiders choose to not address the wide receiver position with their two first-round draft picks, they could snag a number of solid pass-catchers on Day 2.

The guy who will be occupying the slot for LSU on Saturday will be worth a look.

After transitioning from an outside receiver to the slot man this season, Jefferson has thrived along with everyone else on the Tigers' offense.

At 6-foot-3, 193 pounds, Jefferson caught 88 passes for 1,207 yards and 14 touchdowns for LSU. He has elite ball skills and is a beast after the catch.

Even if the Raiders select an A-plus receiver like Lamb in Round 1, they should continue to bolster their arsenal with a guy like Jefferson.