Minkah Fitzpatrick

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 could complete secondary makeover in NFL draft

Raiders could complete secondary makeover in NFL draft

The Raiders have used significant draft capital on defensive backs. Karl Joseph was their 2016 first-round pick. Gareon Conley was last year’s first-rounder, followed by safety Obi Melifonwu in the second round.

DJ Hayden got drafted No. 12 overall in 2013, but didn’t stick. Neither did Sean Smith or David Amerson, who were cut during the life of big-money contracts.

That has led to yet another secondary overhaul. Safety Marcus Gilchrist and cornerback Rashaan Melvin signed one-year deals in free agency, and will join Conley and Joseph in the starting lineup.

That doesn’t mean another secondary makeover is complete. The Raiders need a solid No. 3 cornerback and a starter for the future. A safety isn’t out of the question, even with Gilchrist and Joseph atop a depth chart that includes Melifonwu and veteran Reggie Nelson.

Top options could be available with the No. 10 overall pick, guys who could help right away. Let’s take a look at some possible impact players in the secondary:

CB Denzel Ward, Ohio State
-- Ward is the best cover man in this draft. It’s hard to find anyone able to argue that. He isn’t that big (5-11, 183), but is agile and quick, technically savvy and an excellent route reader. He can make plays on the ball, and is rarely out of position. He doesn’t have great length and won’t jam receivers up at the line, but is a top talent in this draft, regardless of position. The Raiders drafted an Ohio State cornerback first last year (Conley), but that will have zero bearing on this year’s pick. Ward would join Conley and Melvin to form the Raiders’ cornerback corps in the Reggie McKenzie era. He and Conley could be a long-term solution at a spot where the Raiders have struggled to find stability.
Projected round (per NFL.com): 1

DB Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama
-- The former member of the Crimson Tide is a do-it-all defensive back expected to go early in this draft. The Raiders might not be on the clock long if he’s available at No. 10 overall. This dynamic playmaker can cover the slot, play deep safety or even a sub package linebacker, solving several points of weakness with one roster spot. He’s a tone-setter and an excellent chess piece for defensive coordinator Paul Guenther and secondary coach Derrick Ansley, who also coached him at Alabama last year and might be his champion in Alameda.
Projected round (per NFL.com): 1

CB Jaire Alexander, Louisville
-- The Raiders could use a slot cornerback. Conley could play there and has the talent to switch inside and out, but having someone comfortable playing inside would be of benefit with slot receivers so prominent in today’s game. The former Cardinal is solid playing inside, armed with excellent speed and short-area quickness. He’s also a solid tackler and run defender, and can handle the two-way go from the slot. He’s highly touted, yet still might last until the latter portions of the first round. He might be an option should the Raiders trade down, or trade back into the first. It’s highly unlikely, yet possible he makes it to the second if teams are wary of his relatively slight frame.
Projected rounds (per NFL.com): 1-2

CB Isaiah Oliver, Colorado
Oliver is built like an NFL outside cornerback, with the length and range to play physical at the line of scrimmage. He can play man or zone coverage, with solid ball skills and deep speed. Analysts say he could use some development time, and the Raiders could give him that with Conley and Melvin already in the fray.
Projected round (per NFL.com): 2

CB Holton Hill, Texas
-- Hill’s a big guy at 6-3, 200 pounds, but has decent speed for his size. He might fall down in the draft after getting suspended last year for violating Texas’ team rules, and he might be a steal because of that. The Raiders would have to be convinced maturity issues aren’t a concern anymore, because that stuff won’t fly in Jon Gruden’s locker room. Analysts say he must continue to develop technically, but could be a proper fit for the Raiders coverage scheme.
Projected rounds (per NFL.com): 4-5

CB Greg Stroman, Virginia Tech
-- Scouts seem to be scared off by his rail-thin frame and inability to add bulk, but the dude can cover. He can play well in off coverage, with solid closing speed to make plays on the ball. He’s sticky against receivers of all sizes, and regularly made plays on the ball. He could be an early contributor found late in this draft.
Projected round (per NFL.com): 7

Five NFL Draft options for 49ers at No. 9

Five NFL Draft options for 49ers at No. 9

The 49ers always knew there was a chance they would be without Reuben Foster for at least a portion of the 2018 season.

But, now, after the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office last week filed two felony domestic violence charges and one felony charge of possession of an assault weapon, the 49ers must prepare as if they will never see him on the football field again.

The 49ers signed veteran inside linebackers Brock Coyle and Korey Toomer during free agency. And there figure to be plenty of options as the 49ers look to fortify the middle of their defense in next week’s draft, too.

There could be two enticing possibilities at linebacker in front of the 49ers when their turn comes up in the first round with the No. 9 overall pick. Here are five legitimate options for the 49ers if they remain in their original draft slot:

1. LB Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech
There might not be a player in the draft with more upside than Edmunds, who is big (6-5, 253), exceptionally athletic and will not turn 20 until the week after the draft.

Any team that Edmunds him will have the opportunity to mold him into their system at whichever of the many positions he has the skills to play. He can line up at any of the linebacker spots, and he also has untapped potential as a pass-rusher.

Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh could have a lot of fun with the options of how to deploy Edmunds in the 49ers’ scheme.

2. LB Roquan Smith, Georgia
The advantage Edmunds has over Smith is his size. Smith is a bit on the small side (6-1, 236). But that’s about the only knock on him.

In addition to his unique athleticism (he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.51 seconds at the NFL scouting combine), Smith also is a leader with great instincts and football smarts. While he probably could step in and play middle linebacker, he is likely a better fit for the weakside position.

3. DB Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama
The 49ers like Jimmie Ward because of his ability to play all five positions in the secondary. Fitzpatrick is much the same way -- but only bigger, better and, seemingly, more durable.

Ward and Jaquiski Tartt are entering the final seasons of their contracts, so the addition of Fitzpatrick would make sense. He can step and in immediately compete with K’Waun Williams at nickel back or linebacker in the 49ers' sub packages. He play either of the 49ers’ safety positions. In a pinch, he might also be able to play cornerback. Fitzpatrick would be an outstanding asset within the 49ers’ three-deep zone due to his ability to make game-changing plays.

4. DE Harold Landry, Boston College
The more time the 49ers spent on Landry, the more they were sure to like him. He had his breakout season as a junior, recording 16.5 sacks. But his return for his senior season did not turn out as planned.

Teams were left scratching their heads about how his production fell off so dramatically. But a lot of his decline can be traced to an ankle injury that limited his effectiveness. Landry recorded five sacks in eight games.

His stock rose with an exceptional workout at the combine. His size (6-3, 252) is not a huge concern for the 49ers, who would play him at their pass-rush end position. He has all the other attributes of an elite edge rusher with his eye-popping 20- and 60-yard shuttles and three-cone drill.

5. DE Marcus Davenport, Texas-San Antonio
Do the 49ers really need another tall defensive lineman? They selected Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner in back-to-back years, then drafted another defensive lineman, Solomon Thomas, with the No. 3 overall pick last year.

Davenport, however, is different. He is a legitimate pass-rush threat. And that’s an element the 49ers need to add to their defense. Davenport (6-6, 264) was a stand-up rusher in college. He got away with simply being the biggest and best at his level in college.

The star potential is there. He could be a home run. But there is probably a lower downside than with many of the other players the 49ers will consider with the No. 9 overall pick.