Before the 2020 NFL Combine, the Las Vegas Raiders need to fill holes in the starting lineup and depth. While most focus on the immediacy of plugging in quality high round draft picks. However, Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden know that great teams are more cake than frosting. With that said, this pre-combine mock remains mutually exclusive to what the teams do in free agency.
Caveat: For this mock draft, the Raiders traded the 19th overall pick to the Falcons for 47th, 55th, and 78th overall selections. Basically, two seconds and a third. Why? Under the actual draft order, the team would wait for sixty-one picks between selections. This trade would give the team seven picks in the Top-100.
Round 1, Pick 12 (Justin Herbert, Oregon QB)
Rationale: While the choice of Jordan Love would also fit, Herbert slides into more of what I believe Gruden can feel comfortable with. Despite his size, Herbert bolts to the outside, compounding the problems for the defense. In the pocket, his arm strength and willingness to pressure secondaries should attract Gruden. The intelligence and adaptability could make this a winner for all involved.
Round 2, Pick 15 (Jalen Reagor, TCU WR)
Rationale: With Tyrell Williams firmly entrenched as the second and Hunter Renfrow as the third wideouts, the team needed to address the outside. Whether he blew smoke or not, Mayock expresses disdain for first-round receivers. Meanwhile, the explosive TCU product possesses the quickness, hands, and surprising vertical ability to give the Raiders a number-one threat.
Round 2, Pick 23 (Troy Dye, Oregon LB)
Rationale: With an abundance of free agency cash, the Raiders will address linebacker. However, I don’t see two or three free agents composing the starting corps. Instead, look for Oregon’s Troy Dye here. Dye gives the Raiders a versatile, athletic linebacker that covers in space and man.
Round 3, Pick 14 (Jaylon Johnson, Utah CB)
Rationale: Whether you like him or not, Paul Guenther sticks to a specific type of corner. Long, rangy ballhawk types that do not mind getting dirty when tackling. Johnson slides in, effectively to play opposite Trayvon Mullen. His balls skills and timing continued to improve at Utah,
Round 3, Pick 16 (Kyle Dugger, Lenoir-Rhyne S)
Rationale: While Mullen and Abram profile as secondary foundational players, the Raiders need vast improvement on the other sise. Their corners drop picks, while safeties are roasted like campfire marshmallows. Dugger, the D3 standout gives the team a bit of coverage flexibility. He roams like a safety, but owns the size to function as a subpackage linebacker.
Round 3, Pick 17 (Ross Blacklock, TCU DT)
Rationale: As the Super Bowl illustrated, teams win with a constant push inside. Entering year three, while Mo Hurst and PJ Hall flashed, they don’t show consistency. With Rod Marinelli taking the reins as DL coach, count on him to want another interior disruptor. Blacklock’s heavy hands and burst provide an immediate upgrade.
Round 3, Pick 27 (Alton Robinson, Syracuse DE)
Rationale: Behind Maxx Crosby and Clelin Ferrell, the Raiders need edge help. Arden Key remains an enigma. Robinson profiles as a prospect with tools. He needs the hard coaching and refinement that Marinelli would offer.
Round 4, Pick 15 (AJ Dillon, Boston College RB)
Rationale: As always, Mike Mayock is a BC alum, maintains a great relationship with the program, keeping an eye from afar. When the Raiders kept Jalen Richard, that negated the need for another third-down back. Under those circumstances, a downhill runner to give Josh Jacobs much-needed rest become important.
Round 7, Pick 12 (Joe Reed, Virginia WR)
Rationale: The back end of the Raiders’ wide receiver group remains a miss of dropped balls, rounded routes and a lack of explosion. With Reed, he satisfies a myriad of team needs. He profiles as an ascending fourth or fifth wideout that gives Las Vegas a dangerous return threat. The Raiders must improve field position with explosive special teams plays.
In essence, the Las Vegas Raiders sit in an enviable spot. Money in free agency and two first-round picks present them the gift of flexibility.