With the NFL draft now just a few days away, the Oakland Raiders will be heading into this year’s event with clear intentions to stockpile on defensive talent as they attempt to make a Super Bowl run.
The talent pool this year is extremely deep with some going as far as suggesting general manager Reggie McKenzie trade out of the first round and acquire more picks and fill as many holes as possible on the defensive side of the ball.
Of course, the fans are familiar with all the “big names” and “can’t miss” prospects but there’s an abundance of players that can be had in the later rounds which will not only provide depth but truly talented kids that could become stars one day for the Silver and Black.
Carl Lawson, DE/OLB, Auburn
Carl Lawson’s a stud waiting to shine and being able to play off talent such as Mack and Irvin will help in his development. He’s already a physical specimen at 6’2″ and weighing in at 261 pounds, while running a respectable 4.67 during his 40-yard dash and bench pressing an imposing 35 reps. For all the slack that defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. takes for his schemes and play-calling, one thing that cannot be denied is his ability to coach linebackers. Lawson could actually focus on rushing the passer while developing his coverage and play recognition as playing with the aforementioned talent will allow him to do so.
My Round Projection: 3rd Round
Connor Harris, ILB, Lindenwood
During free-agency McKenzie signed Jelani Jenkins to provide depth alongside some of the youngsters at inside linebacker for the Raiders but let’s not kid ourselves, there’s still no long-term answer. Most people might not think of Lindenwood as a football “powerhouse” but neither was Buffalo and that one kid they took turned out pretty good right?
Connor Harris would provide the answer that’s been missing in the middle and he can be developed carefully as Jenkins will hold down the fort during this upcoming season barring any major injuries. His 60-yard shuttle result of 11.84 seconds could be indicative of being to provide solid coverage and coming from a Division II school will definitely provide him with a “chip on his shoulder” and if nothing else, he could contribute right away on special teams to get used to playing at the next level.
My Round Projection: 4th Round
Vincent Taylor, DT, Oklahoma State
The Raiders defensive line needs help in the middle especially with the loss of Dan Williams and Vincent Taylor could be provide some help, though some might say he’s too ‘top heavy’ he could still definitely become a solid run-stopper, at worst.
After consecutive productive seasons in the Big 12, Taylor could find himself behind in the depth chart but his speed and strength will allow him to see some snaps in the rotation meanwhile he develops and as a player taken in the sixth or seventh round he’d be a “low-risk with high-upside” project.
My Round Projection: 6th Round