It’s not as difficult to say Las Vegas Raiders as it is to say LA Chargers and the Raiders have the twelfth pick, courtesy of a 7-9 record. Head coach Jon Gruden and GM Mike Mayock have been bust addressing needs in free agency, mostly addressing defensive shortcomings. This is also their first year in Vegas and to me, personally, a very good fit.
The Raiders have seven picks: two in the first, no second, three thirds, a fourth, fifth, no sixth, and no seventh. The extra first and third round picks are from Chicago in the Khalil Mack trade, while another third is from Seattle through Houston. The Raiders sent their second to the Bears in the Mack deal.
I list the needs below, including major, for depth, and areas they are unlikely to look at. I may add categories for a particular situation.
Major Needs (No Particular Order):
Quarterback: The Raiders have Derek Carr and recently signed Marcus Mariota from Tennessee. Carr has been competent without the best set of weapons around him, but there is something that tells me head coach Jon Gruden is exploring other options, with Mariota being one of them. That is also why they could draft a quarterback. Also on the roster are DeShone Kizer and Nathan Peterman. Nothing would surprise me as to whether they draft here or not.
Wide Receiver: This is a big area of need, especially obtaining a game breaker. The Raiders have been addressing this area, but not as much in the draft. They signed Nelson Agholor from the Eagles, Tyrell Williams last year, and traded for Antonio Brown – something that obviously didn’t work out. They even traded for Zay Jones, a disappointment in Buffalo. Fifth-round pick Hunter Renfrow had a productive year and more is needed, especially some speed. Also on the roster are Marcell Ateman, Keelan Doss, Rico Gafford, and Anthony Ratliff-Williams. Again, this is a position of need and the Raiders will probably have at least two of the top three receivers available to them for the taking. Another pick may happen later in the draft.
Linebacker: This has been an area of concern for some time and the Raiders were aggressive in free agency, signing Cory Littleton (LA Rams) and Nick Kwiatkowski (Chicago). That leaves one more spot and some depth. Nicholas Morrow was re-signed and is the current starter. Marquel Lee enters his fourth season – all with the Raiders – and Kyle Wilber is known more for special teams. Vontaze Burfict and Will Compton are unsigned free agents. The Raiders are not done improving this position and there will be at least one player chosen.
Cornerback: The Silver and Black are hurting outside of last year’s second rounder, Trayvon Mullen. They had a tentative deal with Eli Apple in free agency, but that fell through. Daryl Worley is an unsigned free agent and they could pursue one of the free agents available. Playing the nickel is Lemarcus Joyner, while four others can figure in the plans: Nevin Lawson, Nick Nelson, Keisean Nixon, and Isaiah Johnson – a fourth-round pick last year. Help can be acquired at any point in this draft with one or two corners.
Safety: This is another questionable area. The last of their three first round picks, Johnathan Abrams, missed most of the season and Karl Joseph left for Cleveland in free agency. Erik Harris started last year and will face a challenge. Damarious Randall (Cleveland) and Jeff Heath (Dallas) were free agent signings and more help may be coming. Dallin Leavitt is on the roster and Curtis Riley is unsigned. I see a safety being selected somewhere in the draft.
Running Back: Josh Jacobs had a very good rookie year as one of their three first round picks, rushing for 1,000 yards. Jalen Richard is valuable as a receiver out of the backfield. Rod Smith is also on the roster, but he did not have a carry. If Jacobs misses significant time, they are in trouble and another back as insurance for Jacobs could be taken in the mid-to-late rounds.
Tight End: This is an area of strength with the free agent signing of Jason Witten from the Cowboys making them even deeper. Darren Waller came out of the blue and caught 90 passes for 1,145 yards. One of last year’s fourth-round picks, Foster Moreau, caught 21 passes for 5 touchdowns, before missing the last three games with a knee injury. Derek Carrier adds quality depth and is a special teams star. Add Witten and they have a position that is loaded. Witten had 63 receptions last year and adds leadership ability to the team and for their young tight ends. The Raiders also signed Nick O’Leary, who could have a hard time making the team.
Offensive Line: This unit has come along well in the last year. The tackles are in good shape with Kolton Miller showing improvement in his second year and Trent Brown back at right tackle. At guard, Richie Incognito played at a high level at 35 years old on the left side, while Gabe Jackson provides quality on the right side. At center, Rodney Hudson has made the Pro Bowl in three of the last four years. In reserve, Jordan Devey started four games before tearing a pectoral muscle and was re-signed. Denzelle Good also started some games at guard and also plays tackle. There is talk that Jackson could be a cap casualty with Devey or Good taking his place. Eric Kush is a free agent signing who brings depth at center and guard. Brandon Parker and David Sharpe back up at tackle. Also on the roster are Erik Magnuson and Andre James. If a lineman is chosen, it will be for tackle depth in the mid-to-late rounds.
Defensive Line: The Raiders came a long way in one year: in 2018 the defense had a total of 13 sacks and improved to 32 last year. Much of the increase came from their rookie ends, Clelin Ferrell and Maxx Crosby, who had 4.5 and 10, respectively. Carl Nassib signed from Tampa Bay, where he had 6.5 and 6 in each of the last two years, while Arden Key was bothered by injuries, but has talent. Josh Mauro was re-signed, while Benson Mayowa signed with Seattle. The tackles have depth, with Johnathan Hankins and PJ Hall starting most of the games, while Maurice Hurst saw heavy action. All three played well and Maliek Collins was signed from Dallas, joining a four-man rotation. Daniel Ross is another free-agent signing at tackle. If they pick someone here, it will be for another pass rusher.
*Information from various sources, including Pro-Football Reference, Sportac, and ESPN.