The Raider Ramble takes a look at a potential “dream scenario” for the Raiders in which two huge holes are addressed
Picture this… it’s draft day, you’ve got your Derek Carr jersey on, chips and salsa perfectly placed on your coffee table and a cold beer in hand (mine will be in a Raider koozie). The 49ers just picked ninth, yes, the Raiders lost the coin flip and will pick in the tenth spot… and just like that, the team’s on the clock.
Analysts are weighing in with talks of the Raider’s depleted defense, inconsistency on offense and inability to take the ball away in 2017.
…The clock is ticking down…
“With the tenth pick in the NFL Draft, The Oakland Raiders select, Roquan Smith, Georgia.” Say it with me now… The Oakland Raiders select, Roquan Smith.
Round 1: Roquan Smith
This is just what this defense needs if it plans on winning the AFC West and beyond. The L.A. Chargers, who the Raiders see twice a year, are notorious for picking apart the Oakland defense with quick crossing routes, pick plays and tight-end dominance.
Kansas City is another AFC West opponent that has given the Raiders problems both with the run game and at the tight end position with “Raider Killer” Travis Kelce. If plans include a trip to the AFC Championship game, these are two areas Oakland must improve.
There is no place to look in Round 1 other than the SEC star who ranked Top 10 in every major defensive category in 2017. First and foremost, drafting an inside linebacker is where the Raiders get the most bang for their buck. Assuming Bruce Irvin (who will take up $8.25 in cap space) continues his career with the Silver and Black and Khalil Mack has another dominating season, the edges will be sealed and these two will have clear responsibilities – get to the quarterback. No need to draft another edge-rusher.
Adding Smith who had 85 solo tackles in 2017 (the most in the SEC) will give the Raiders off the ball speed and a more reliable run defense. At 6’1″ and 225 pounds, Smith will need to add a little size to his frame but will be a great compliment to the hard-hitting vet, Navarro Bowman (provided Bowman doesn’t leave in free-agency). Smith would be coming into the best possible scheme which the Raiders inherited from Mike Zimmer’s former Bengals squad, the “split mug front“.
While Oakland did not get Zimmerman, they got the next best thing in Paul Guenther, the Bengals defensive coordinator. Guenther will likely bring this defense to Oakland giving them high pressure/blitz packages which line up the inside linebackers in the A-gaps. From there, the defense can call all kinds of coverages behind it. A dream for the speedy Smith and defensive captain Bowman.
Round 2: Tarvarus McFadden
An inside linebacker will not solve all the holes the Raiders have on defense. Not even close. I trust that Reggie McKenzie and Jon Gruden will acknowledge the need of another cornerback to limit the big chunk plays that killed the Raiders throughout the 2017 season.
With T.J. Carrie entering free agency, David Amerson offering a 156.3 QB rating while being targeted and an aging Sean Smith slowing down, the Raiders will look to compliment the 2017 first round pick, Gareon Conley, with a big body guy on the edge. Florida State Seminoles’ CB Tarvarus McFadden is the pick here.
McFadden brings size to the CB spot at 6’2″ and 198 pounds which offers promise against larger receivers like Demaryius Thomas in Denver and Keenan Allen in L.A. If he’s going to up his game, McFadden will need to be more physical at the line of scrimmage and master the art of tight end coverage, a huge problem in Oakland. Giving up 90 receptions and over 1,000 yards to tight ends in 2017 was more than frustrating. Having a big body in the CB position will assist in those plays when we see tight ends lined up in man coverage on the outside. You know, the ones that make you jump up and down, pointing to the tight end in man coverage at the top of your screen? Ya, those plays.
Although he did not have a takeaway last season compared to his eight the year before, McFadden offered 10 deflected passes and 53 solo tackles. Get this kid to camp and let him work. He offers the highest ceiling of any corner in this year’s draft.