And so, it begins.
Mock draft season is upon us and, while I jumped into the fray with a satirical look at what the Oakland Raiders may do, this one isn’t intended to purposely draw laughter. (This will, no doubt, elicit chuckles from readers based on who I pegged as the picks).
As one astute reader pointed out, when my joking mock is as accurate as serious ones, that truly belies the assumption and conjecture nature of these things. Be entertained, learn a little bit, point and laugh if you have to.
But, thank you for taking the time.
(Note: The fluid nature of roster chess entails further versions beyond this one. Those will come at a monthly basis.)
Round 1: 9th/10th overall
Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
Could it be? General manager Reggie McKenzie reneges on his long-standing belief starting linebackers can be had late in or after the draft? You better believe it.
Smith is a can of whoop-ass any team can plug into the defense. He is a sound tackling machine with ample power to lay on a good lick. Welcomes contact and Smith has the speed and instincts to be a force in both the pass and run game. Many raise concern about his size 6-foot-1 and 225 pounds, but don’t forget, a linebacker many in Raider Nation drool over across the Bay (you know his name) is built similarly.
Aspuria’s Assertion: Re-upping NaVorro Bowman changes this pick drastically. And if there is a run at quarterback ahead of Oakland, a prime prospect like Bradley Chubb or Saquon Barkley may fall into the Raiders’ lap.
Round 2: 41st overall
Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
He’s got the vision, toughness, and agility higher-rated prospect Barkley has, the only difference is long speed.
A tough and powerful runner between the tackles, Guice reads blocks well and makes quick decisions allowing him to turn creases in the defense into advantageous holes. Holds his own well in pass protection, but pass-catching is where he’ll need to improve, especially in a Jon Gruden offense.
Aspuria’s Assertion: Whether or not Marshawn Lynch is on the roster in 2018, Oakland needs to find a workhorse-type back that can handle the demand Gruden is going to impart. This is a running back heavy class, so like the first-round pick, this is a fluid spot, too.
Round 3: 75th overall
Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan
Talk about a gapbuster. This Wolverine showcases an excellent first-step suddenness which allows him to get into the backfield and be a true disruptor. Stout at the point of attack and his very difficult to push back or dislodge when blocked one-on-one.
At 6-foot-2, 282 pounds, some see Hurst as undersized for the tackle position. He was swallowed up by double teams and must prove he can sustain against the larger brutes on an NFL interior. And this will lead him sliding down the draft boards.
But the Raiders are no stranger to undersized tackles, i.e. Rod Coleman. Hurst has the makings of another RC.
Round 4: 106th overall
Dante Pettis, WR, Washington
He would fill two roles: Slot receiver and punt returner. As a return man, this Husky housed nine punt returns. The Raiders haven’t sniffed the end zone on that type of return since 2008. As a receiver, Pettis needs to become consistent. He’s flashed as a crisp, sure-handed wide-out who is lethal after the catch. But he’s also shown proneness to dropping the ball and not be as elusive as he is capable of.
Aspuria’s Assertion: Whether Michael Crabtree is let go or if the Raiders sign a free agent WR, competition at the slot and the return game is a must for Oakland. Pettis gives you a dynamic return man who can refine his receiving game.