Are you ready?
Now that the 2017 season officially closed this past Sunday — a glorious Super Bowl tilt in which the Philadelphia Eagles told the New England Patriots “Go Tuck Yourself” — draft chatter will pick up speed at an exponential rate.
Prepare yourself for Mock Draft-Mania!
The defensive side of Oakland Raiders football needs supreme attention. This is not to say the offensive side doesn’t deserve attention, but Paul Guenther is going to need more ingredients to cook up his desired defense.
My mock 2.0 focuses heavily on the defensive side. Future mocks will be adjusted to free agency moves when the signing period begins in mid-march.
Round 1: 9th/10th overall
Vita Vea, DT, Washington
When was the last time the Raiders fielded a defensive tackle that must be accounted for?
Darrell Russell, Rod Coleman, and Grady Jackson, perhaps?
That’s what Vea brings to the table.
Go ahead and pigeon-hole him as a one-dimensional nose tackle if you want. But watching film of this Husky and you realize he doesn’t just command double-teams, he decimates them on route to the quarterback.
Vea can rush the passer. There’s nothing more amusing than seeing exactly how big a quarterback’s eyes get when Vea is bearing down on him.
He’s stout against the run and has unheralded pass-rushing chops. The Haloti Ngata comparisons are legit. And Vea has ample wiggle (he’s more athletic than you think) and fits well with new defensive line coach Mike Tgrovac’s stunt and movement techniques.
Round 2: 41st overall
Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
An athletic Mike who checks the requisite size, speed and upside box for a prototypical second-round Reggie McKenzie draft pick. Based off of those attributes alone, Evans closely resembles one of McKenzie’s initial prized free-agency signings, Nick Roach.
Like the former, Bama’s Mike has sideline-to-sideline range, can drop back in coverage and has the ability to make the quarterback antsy when he’s sent on a blitz.
Mentally, Evans has shown a penchant to line up teammates in correct alignment and formations and make adjustments, if necessary.
Nabbing Evans and Vea gives Guenther two quality prospects in the middle of the line.
Round 3: 75th overall
Rashaad Penny, RB, San Diego State
Penny was considered a disappointment during Senior Bowl practices, but he didn’t let down during the actual game.
The Aztec tailback showcased good vision, burst, and hands in the upperclassman showdown and gave everyone a window into his big playmaking ability.
The compact and powerfully built Penny has the tools to become an all-around back that head coach Jon Gruden covets in his halfbacks. He’s a one-cut downhill tailback who will run over the opposition and has the soft hands and elusiveness to be a valuable asset in the passing game.
Round 4: 106th overall
Tarvarus McFadden, CB, Florida State
Based off measurables alone (6-foot-2 and 198 pounds), this Seminole corner should go as early as the second round. He’s got the size and speed threshold met and then some.
However, his game film this past season wasn’t flattering.
With his long arms and prototype size, he profiles as a man-press corner who can jam a receiver mercilessly at the line of scrimmage. Instead, he was a corner who got beat way too often (especially deep) and wasn’t the ballhawk his junior year as he was a sophomore.
But the upside and glimpses of the corner he can be are likely too tantalizing for an NFL team to ignore
And, with David Amerson getting cut this past Monday, corner once again becomes a dire area of concern for the Raiders.