Hiring Gus Bradley closed the door on speculation that the Las Vegas Raiders would switch to a 3-4. Bringing in a staunch proponent of the Cover 3 means that change will occur in Las Vegas. With a defensive roster loaded with questions and few answers, the team needs to retool. After a hopefully strong free agency period, Vegas must begin to assemble the pieces needed to begin a playoff push. As a result, the following serves as an approximation of draft picks, based on probable draft slotting and team fit. Granted, we are rather early in the draft process. Players will move up and down.
LB Zaven Collins, Tulsa
Gus Bradley, over the past few seasons, shows an aversion to blitzing. He prefers the front four to create the rush. Meanwhile, the linebackers must flash the athletic ability to cover, stop the run, and occasionally blitz. Drafting Collins brings all three traits to the forefront. The Tulsa product uses deep zone drops, covering ground and picking passes. Next, if called upon, Collins profiles as an accurate blitzer, taking sound angles to the backfield. Nick Kwiatkoski was the only linebacker to hold his covers under 60% completion percentage. Overall, the unit surrendered eight touchdowns.
S Trevon Moehrig, TCU
Taking the Seattle model as a guide, the Raiders already employ a hard-hitting safety in Johnathan Abram. Erik Harris and Jeff Heath do not resemble NFL starters. Enter Moehrig, a safety that looks at home in the deep middle, patrolling vast areas of green. Facing the Chiefs, Broncos, and Chargers twice will test any safety. Moehrig’s ability to roam and close on plays affords the Raiders the chance to gamble on defense. Now, if they do sign a big-name free agent, Moehrig would still fit, as he would play subpackages. Erik Harris allowed a team-high 23.2 yards per completion, almost double the team average. (11.7)
DT Levi Onwuzurike, Washington
Name a defensive tackle that Vegas should retain? Outside of Johnathan Hankins, the unit struggles in 2020. Onwuzurike provides a different type of rush. While he may never tally numerous sacks, crushing the pocket remains his priority. Onwuzurike’s presence on the defensive line immediately benefits the ends. Gone are the days of the ladder-climbing quarterback. The former Husky brings a heavy-handed jolt that stands up blockers, walking them into the backfield.
EDGE Patrick Johnson, Tulane
Bradley, to his credit, realizes that the hallmark of most defenses is the ability to rush the passer. More importantly, generating pressure with the front four alone is what the new coordinator prefers. During his various stop around the league, Bradley shows an aversion to blitzing. Drafting Johnson gives the Raiders a versatile chess piece to move. The Tulane product converts speed to power on the pass rush, with the athleticism to add to the repertoire. Meanwhile, he excels in short to intermediate coverage, with the speed to keep up. Overall, Johnson brings more to the table than any backup the Raiders employ. Other than Maxx Crosby’s 7.5, no Raiders pass rush tallied more than 2.5 sacks.
RB Kylin Hill, Mississippi State
Behind Josh Jacobs, the Raiders’ RB room looks rather thin. Devontae Booker is a veteran turning 29. Although younger, Jalen Richard provides little burst and shouldn’t be counted on carrying the ball. With Josh Jacobs’ running style and nagging injuries, the Raiders need an upgrade. Kylin Hill runs the way Jon Gruden prefers. He absorbs contact, keeps his feet moving, and presents enough agility to make a defender miss. The Raiders, when executing on offense, prefer to bully defenses. Spelling Jacobs with a back unafraid to run hard fits perfectly. Jacobs logged only two 100-yard games and none after Week 10. After dealing with high usage and injury, he needed a quality backup.
CB Marco Wilson, Florida
Making over a defense remains a daunting task. In all honesty, the Raiders lacked quality cornerback/safety help in 2020. Too many players let their Twitter fingers outrun their feet. Wilson showcases his speed and playmaking on the boundary. Not to mention, he will jump over the slot and fill that role seamlessly. Bradley can handle immature players.
Granted, nothing about this mock draft catches eyes. Yet, with Gus Bradley running the defense, at least the team appears headed in a direction. Additionally, Bradley strikes many as flexible, unlike his predecessor. Yet, he will require players that could fit his scheme. While the offense wasn’t perfect, the defense couldn’t stop a cough.