Last week, the Las Vegas Raiders opened the first week of free agency with a flourish. From trading away sixty percent of their offensive line to shoring up the defensive line, the team started to unfold their plan. Whether people agree or not, the calendar remains in their favor, for now. Now, with the draft, the braintrust can afford to be a bit flexible in the draft process.
(Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech)
With the trade of Trent Brown, Vegas needs an immediate starter. While Darrisaw played left tackle in college, his athleticism will allow him to make the switch to the right side. Additionally, his size gives Tom Cable a young, talented lineman to mold. Looking back, the reshaping of the offensive line seems like a perfect time for two young bookends in Miller and Darrisaw.
(Andre Cisco, S Syracuse)
For the last few years, the Raiders lack a rangy playmaker at safety that routinely made smart ball decisions. Save for that one game versus the Colts, the team struggled to cover wide areas of green. On top of that, everyone knows that Johnathan Abram plays best closest to the line of scrimmage. Cisco will help erase some of Abram’s coverage flaws, providing the defense with an actual last line of defense.
(Benjamin St. Juste, CB, Minnesota)
While talented free agent corners signed elsewhere during the first week, the Raiders seem to bank on youth, If scheme fit and traits are as important as they seem to Gus Bradley, St.Juste fits here. First, his length and frame, playing in a zone scheme give him a knowledge base. Plus, Bradley seems fond of longer corners, that may not possess twitch.
(Baron Browning, LB, Ohio State)
In signing Nicholas Morrow to a one-year deal, the Raiders temporarily filled a hole. Long-term, they need a value-based solution. In Browning, the defense could enjoy a player that shows comfort in shallow zones but loves flying downhill towards the ballcarrier or blitzing. Instead of handing out a series of one-year deals, invest a third in a player that can grow with the defense.
(Quinn Meinerz, IOL, Wisconsin-Whitewater)
With the departure of Rodney Hudson, the Raiders possess a gaping hole at center. Granted, Andre James and Nick Martin occupy the spot. However, neither are players you’d consider high-ceiling. In contrast, Meinerz, gives Tom Cable, another young building block, With excellent strength, leverage, and an aggressive mentality, the UWW product could challenge for a starting spot immediately. While no one steps in and immediately fills Hudson’s shoes, Meinerz provides potential mixed with competitiveness.
(Jaylen Twyman, DT, Pittsburgh)
After signing a slew of veteran defensive linemen to prove-it deals, the team doesn’t present an early need for a 3T. As a result, they can wait for a developmental player like Twyman. Earlier in the draft process, Twyman looked like a Day Two selection. However, with a subpar Pro Day performance, Twyman could easily fall into Day Three. With that, the Raiders could grab the 3T easily. On tape, not a stopwatch, Twyman exhibits quick feet and a disruption that could serve in a rotational role for Vegas.
(Elerson Smith, EDGE, Northern Iowa)
Arden Key wasted ample opportunities with the Raiders. The Raiders, as a unit lack quality EDGE depth, from a developmental front. Smith, length and pass-rush-only approach could net him snaps in passing situations. With a decent get-off, Smith forces tackles to commit wide and step into deeper space. With his length and hard coaching, his length could be converted into a functional repertoire.
(Sam Ehlinger, QB, Texas)
Regardless of Raiders restructuring Marcus Mariota, the quarterback room feels rather empty. Granted, Nathan Peterman, a Gruden favorite will lock up the backup spot. Yet, what exists behind them? Ehlinger presents Jon Gruden with yet another opportunity to draft and develop a young quarterback. Now, no one is saying that he will supplant Derek Carr. However, for a self-styled quarterback guru, Jon Gruden lacks a long-term project success at quarterback. On the field, Ehlinger plays with a grit and toughness that you just know opened Jon Gruden’s eyes. He moves well, possessing an NFL-caliber arm. At this point in the draft, why not take a flyer?