Oakland Raiders defensive end Khalil Mack
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Barreling towards the draft, the FPC Raiders crew of Camarillo, Simmons and Aspuria discuss the draft. With less than two weeks until Dallas, the Oakland Raiders still possess many roster holes. In addition, the contract situation for Khalil Mack looms large.

Which late round player are you most intrigued with and why?

Aspuria

Texas punter Michael Dickson. If you let one of the game’s upper echelon punters go, Dickson is the kid you replace them with. An excellent combination of size and intellect, Dickson has a powerful leg and the touch mixed with supreme confidence to continue the Raiders’ tradition of excellent punting. Out of his 84 kicks this season, 42 landed inside the opponents 20 and 33 were fair caught.

 

Simmons

Jerome Baker could be a sneaky good value in the fourth round. He maintains good feet and the athleticism to track receivers and tight ends up the seam and across the middle. Baker is a career weakside backer and could still be an option if the Raiders draft a MLB higher. He brings an element the Raiders still hope Obi Melifonwu brings in terms of range and potential to become an every down player.

Camarillo

Does Khalil McKenzie count? I am wondering if Reggie McKenzie takes his son if he slides into either of the last two rounds. Khalil McKenzie does fill a need on the defensive line and he does have the athleticism, inconsistent production, and versatility that RM has coveted in defensive line prospects over the last few seasons. Otherwise, does RM have the pick yourself up type of mentality towards his son? Will he make him go undrafted and earn his way onto a roster? On the other hand, does he believe he has the program to get the most out of his son who was once a five star recruit?

What under-the-radar free agent signing makes the final 53 and why?

Simmons

I think the two most likely players to make the roster are the two in the positions with the most glaring needs. It is unlikely the Raiders can draft players to replace Rashad Melvin or Tahir Whitehead. It is not that they are world-beaters but instead the professionalism they bring to the position. They know what is expected and should be able to follow through.

Camarillo

Expect all the free agent signings to make the 53-man roster, including the backups. We know Gruden prefers veterans and McKenzie does not sign guys without having a plan for them. That combination should make most of their additions from this offseason safe. If anything, additions from the previous regime will get cut before this year’s additions. Cough, Jared Cook.

Aspuria

Although I have been skeptical of his signing, Marcus Gilchrist is going to be a starting safety. He has a $2 million base salary and a $1.85 million signing bonus. That is not backup money that is starting money. The versatile veteran was a solid 13-game starter for Houston coming off a horrid injury. He would be the stopgap while second-year safety Obi Melifonwu gets his NFL bearings.

How would you fix the LB corps?

Simmons

For starters, I would move on from NaVorro Bowman. I know he was the savior last season for a much-maligned defense but he is not getting much better and may not be far from the end. Then I would spend that first round pick on Roquan Smith or Trumaine Edmunds. If Smith is the pick, then Whitehead can move over to the weak side. If Edmunds is the pick then Whitehead can play in the middle while Edmunds learns where he fits best.

Camarillo

The Raiders backup linebackers are good with the free agents they signed this offseason and guys they have selected the past few years. What they are lacking is playmakers and game changers at that position. They need to take 1-2 pro-ready linebackers in the first four rounds to upgrade that position with some versatility and athleticism.

 

Aspuria

I’d stop the application of duct tape at the position by drafting either Roquan Smith or Tremaine Edmunds at No. 10 overall. That would be first. Nevertheless, to get a true fix on the linebackers, the Raiders need to establish a stout front four in Paul Guenther’s 4-3 scheme. If the front four can wreck havoc, the linebackers can simply be the cleanup crew in the run game. Coverage is going to be the biggest issue as Tahir Whitehead is mediocre at best. Nicholas Morrow profiles as the best coverage linebacker due to his athleticism. Invest solid development time in the second-year undrafted free agent.

What would you consider a mutually beneficial deal for Khalil Mack?

Aspuria

I would not compare Mack’s eventual contract extension to any other defender for one simple reason: It will reset the market. Reports surfaced Mack’s agent is seeking more than $65 million guaranteed. This likely would make me a terrible personnel man, but I would give Mack a 6-year, $120 million deal with $72 million guaranteed.

Camarillo

Context is key. The Raiders will need to ink a deal with Mack before Jadeveon Clowney and Aaron Donald get their deals. You want Mack to set the market for those guys or else you risk Mack wanting more than whatever the Rams and Texans give their top defensive players from that same draft class. Moreover, we saw Von Miller break the bank only to take a pay cut a few seasons later to keep talent around him. Mack can get a huge payday but it is everybody’s best interest for the team to be good. That is something to consider at the negotiating table.

Simmons

It is hard to give a valuation Khalil Mack because he has already become the best player of the decade for the Raiders. With multiple all-pros, pro bowls, and a DPOY his value is worth more than just the player is. He represents, in many ways, the single biggest departure from the prior era, as the Raiders did not have to hope, he was great from day one. Losing him, at any point for any reason, would be as big as losing Derek Carr.

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