In less than forty-eight hours, the Las Vegas Raiders will begin their trek into free agency. With that, they should start to fill holes, in hopes of finally reaching the playoffs. As a result, how they draft after the spending surge remains vital in constructing a roster, teeming with talent and depth. Gotta love draft season.
Round 1 (17th Overall)
Rashawn Slater (T, Northwestern)
After the trade of Trent Brown, the team lacks viable candidates at tackle. Brandon Parker reached his limited ceiling and it’s time to move on. In Slater, Vegas could bookend him with Kolton Miller. Slater’s feet and ability to counter rush moves give him a set advantage. Plus, facing left ends, Slater should face power-based ends, geared to push rushers.
Round 2 (49th Overall)
Daviyon Nixon (DT, Iowa)
Look at the interior of the defensive line, find the athlete. Now, imagine a 300-pound tackle, beating guards off the ball, winning with a first step. For as anemic as the Raiders rushed from the outside, the interior did them no favors. Nixon, in concert with a stout, finally allows the ends to see a quarterback funneling towards them, instead of stepping up in the pocket, unafraid.
Round 3 (80th Overall)
Michael Carter (RB, North Carolina)
Now, before alarmists lose their collective minds about drafting a back so early, check the reasoning. Behind Josh Jacobs, the Raiders lack gamebreaking, change-of-pace talent. Jalen Richard knows the offense and does not scre a single defense. Carter’s ability in the open makes this a high-value pick. Plus, possessing the vision to use the defender’s against them will pay immediate dividends.
Round 4 (122nd Overall)
Patrick Jones II ( EDGE, Pittsburgh)
Granted, the Raiders should bring in a veteran edge defender via free agency. Yet, depth, as mentioned, still matters. Carl Nassib’s contract keeps him on the team. Clelin Ferrell’s draft position and ability to kick inside does the same for him. Outside of Maxx Crosby and the potential of Ingram, the Raiders lack quality depth on the outside. Jones provides a diverse rush set with above-average, run-stopping on the depth chart. He gets off the ball faster than any current Raider, not wearing 98 or potentially 54.
Round 6 (162nd Overall)
Caden Sterns (S, Texas)
Originally mocked with James Wiggins, Sterns’ film and approach changed my mind. At this point in the draft, the Raiders need secondary depth, on the back end. Without a doubt, the team will make a play at a high-dollar safety. Under those circumstances, gambling on a Day Three pick that can ease into subpackages really makes sense. Sterns’ ability to show a level of comfort in the deep middle will allow him to see the field. More importantly, it will hopefully mean the end of tenure for several suspect defensive backs.
Round 7 (246th Overall)
Jaylon Moore (OL, Western Michigan)
Earlier, we discussed Brandon Parker and his struggles. Down in the draft, Gruden and the Raiders need to give Tom Cable a project to mold. Moore, the former WMU lined up at tackle during his career. With his feet, Moore brings a decent athletic palette late on Day Three. Bluntly put, the Raiders lack tackle depth. Moore, a low-risk, high return pick should bolster a line that went from a strength to a question mark.