As the NFL Combine and Draft near, organizations can be expected to expand and narrow their draft boards while looking for the best team fit. Some teams may have a position that needs attention, while others may have so many positions requiring attention, the best option is to draft the best available player.
Areas of Need
Drafting the best available player can come down to a team’s draft position and how each player performs at the combine. Year after year, the combine has welcomed some lesser-known players just to have them climb the ranks into a more preferable draft spot. In the 2019 Combine, fans saw Foster Moreau and Parris Campbell rise on draft boards after commendable performances. While it may be difficult to predict the most shocking performances, there is a multitude of players primed to perform well at the combine.
While the Raiders search for offensive weapons, perhaps some talent could be found from some of the risers.
Future Number One?
Louisiana State University WR Justin Jefferson entered the 2019 season quietly, with
news swarming Joe Burrow and primarily focusing on Ja’Marr Chase. Jefferson quickly burst onto the scene, benefitting from Burrow’s incredible throwing ability. As a result, he recorded 100 receiving yards in eight of the team’s fifteen games. The rising star showed out in the team’s two College Football Playoff games, recording 23 receptions for 333 yards and four touchdowns. Jefferson showcased his speed, reliable hands, and athleticism in these games. His combine number should intrigue most.
Another wide receiver to keep an eye on is Minnesota’s Tyler Johnson. Not only would Johnson fill the “deep threat” slot for the Raiders, but he is also simply an incredible athlete. On streak routes alone, Johnson recorded 17 receptions for 445 yards, with nine of those receptions leading to touchdowns.
Not only does Johnson possess blazing speed, but he also had impeccable success hauling in contested catches and continuing to gain yards after initial contact with a defender. Derek Carr proved his ability as a top-tier passer on throws over 20 yards, and Johnson could just be the catalyst to the Raiders’ offense. While Johnson’s on-field skills speak for themselves, but his combine measurables will truly determine his slot.
While the spotlight has centered around the rightfully glorified skill positions, there are certainly some gritty, “trench” athletes deserving of recognition. While the Raiders did have an impressive showing from their offensive line last season, they could develop another. One of the available prospects is offensive tackle Rashawn Slater from Northwestern. Slater allowed nothing but five pressures and a QB hit during the 2019 season. Slater was put into 355 pass-blocking situations and would allow a pressure 1.4 percent of the time. With stats like that, it would be hard to believe Slater does not shine at the NFL Combine. Obviously, nothing is ever guaranteed, but expect him to shoot up some draft boards when the time comes.