Mock Madness is in full swing and it will only grow even more pervasive until the actual NFL draft commences on April 26. Predictions and premonitions are running wild and, most likely; none of the projects will be accurate when the teams are finally on the clock. Teams will surprise (and disappoint in fans’ eyes) with the eventual selections and the draft pundits will praise and ridicule said picks on the myriad of draft broadcasts. In that vein, let us look at “surprise” picks in the first three rounds for the Oakland Raiders. Undoubtedly, it will be a busy foray for head coach Jon Gruden and general manager Reggie McKenzie and crew.
“We’ve got a lot of picks,” Gruden said at the NFL owners meeting last week. “Two in the fifth, four in the sixth, and a pick in every other round. Trades are a possibility … so we are not done. We’ve got a long way to go, I do know that.”
Raiders Needs: DT, OT, CB, LB, RB, WR
Offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey: Gruden wants to beat up the opposition with a punishing run game and in order to do that, the Raiders need to solidify the right tackle spot, thus, the Notre Dame technician. Able to play in gap and zone schemes, McGlinchey has pro-ready technique.
Safety Minkah Fitzpatrick: Falling to tenth looks improbable, but grumblings remain that the Alabama defensive back could drop. And another defensive back after taking one in the first in 2016 and two more in rounds one and two in 2017? Fitzpatrick did play under new Raiders DB boss Derrick Ansley at ‘Bama, so the transition might be quick.
Trade: The Raiders identified the cat they want and believe they can get him at a much lower slot. A quarterback falls in their lap at 10 and Oakland deals the pick to a quarterback needy team (Arizona Cardinals, for example).
Others: Linebacker Roquan Smith (Raiders do not seem to value LBs that highly); Defensive tackle Vita Vea (Some see him as a pure run-plugging nose tackle) and Tremaine Edmunds (see Smith).
Offensive tackle Orlando Brown Jr.: He bombed in the various combine workouts, but the son of a former NFL brutish lineman owns outstanding film. Big, mean and nasty, Brown will not wow you with the best footwork. However, this former Oklahoma Sooner gets the job done.
Running back Sony Michel: Gruden did say he loves the talent at the tailback position in the draft, but taking one this high with so many other pressing needs? That is a surprise. The other would be the Georgia Bulldog falling to the Raiders in the second round.
Trade: Oakland has a lot of work to do on its roster and trading down will acquire more picks.
Others: Cornerback Josh Jackson (if he falls to second round); any wide receiver (like RB, so many other needs).