With the opening of free agency still almost three, the Las Vegas Raiders still need to fill holes. The NFL Draft presents them an opportunity to actually construct a deep, viable roster. Once again, fate provides them with another chance to finally right years of wrongs. While these picks may not excite anyone, they make sense. Unlike most teams, the Raiders lack a definitive plan.
Azeez Ojulari, EDGE, Georgia (17th Overall)
The Raiders, under Gus Bradley, need a LEO. Ojulari, the former Georgia standout fits the bill. With the ability to rush the passer from a two-point stance, and drop enough in coverage to confound and confuse offenses. Ojulari, at 17, fits perfectly in the plans. Combined with an improved interior rush, the Raiders will actually generate a competent pass rush.
Daviyon Nixon, DT, Iowa (48th Overall)
After enduring zero interior disruption, the Raiders decide to start rectifying the problem. Nixon’s burst and athleticism beats guards off the snap, gaining the advantage early, forcing the play wide. On passing downs, Vegas could kick Clelin Ferrell inside on passing downs. Or, to the bench.
Andre Cisco, Safety, Syracuse (80th Overall)
The secondary lacks safeties that excel in coverage. Plus, someone needs to act as the last line of defense, since Johnathan Abram struggles further away from the line of scrimmage. Playing in the AFC West requires help over the top. Each team fields at least three wideouts to challenge the defense. Cisco’s ball skills and comfort in space would serve the team well.
Benjamin St. Juste, Cornerback, Minnesota (121st Overall)
If the past remains prologue, Gus Bradley will attempt to replicate his defense in Seattle. Eschewing twitch for length and scheme-specificity, St.Juste makes sense for the Raiders. The former Gopher standout’s long limbs and ability to play within the Cover 3 fits the team’s new direction. A long strider, St.Juste loves to reside in his area, displaying a discipline needed to excel within the confines of this defense.
Walker Little, Tackle, Stanford (163rd Overall)
At this point in the draft, the team begins to tinker with role players/projects that could pay off. First up, Walker Little. As Trent Brown eventually moves on from the team, the depth behind him should worry most. Brandon Parker and Sam Young, at a disparate point in their careers, lack any scintilla of upside. Instead, the rangy Stanford tackle brings the ability to meet the end wide, with a solid punch and redirect.
Patrick Johnson, EDGE, Tulane (204th Overall)
Crosby, Ferrell, Nassib. For the Raiders, that complement of edge rushers underwhelm. Adding Ojuklari at 17 still necessitates more edge help. Johnson’s frame, quick twitch, and an array of rush moves would provide subpackage help. Gus Bradley encounters a defense that lacking edge athleticism. Building that, taking a Day 3 flyer on Johnson makes sense.
Marco Wilson, Cornerback, Florida (242nd Overall)
If you forget the shoe-throwing incident, Wilson brings a bit of a mixed bag. Yet, this late in the draft, Vegas needs to grab talent. Look at the corners that needed to take the field, Some battled social media more than actual wideouts. Wilson flashes the ability to line up on the outside or in the slot.