After a disappointing 6-10 season, the Oakland Raiders ended up with a Top 10 pick and are hoping to get a franchise player. There are a plethora of talented players in this class. With multiple teams looking to draft a quarterback, one of the top talents may slip to the Raiders.
With a draft this top-heavy in talent, the Raiders could get a franchise-altering player. Many situations could lead to a great Day 1 for the Raiders and their fans. Ten of them are listed here.
Running Back Saquon Barkley
The 2018 class in terms of overall talent is arguably a step down from last year’s class. The one position that got better was the running backs.
Although highly unlikely, as Mike Mayock pointed out recently, Barkley could possibly fall out of the Top 5 which could mean the Raiders luck into the best back since Adrian Peterson.
Barkley, like Leonard Fournette last year, doesn’t have crazy stats. This is because Penn State’s offensive line was not very good and the defenses keyed in on him.
Behind the Raiders offensive line and with Jon Gruden calling plays, Barkley could be the league’s leading rusher for years to come.
Safety Minkah Fitzpatrick
Fitzpatrick may be the most mature prospect in this class. The odds of him making it out of the Top 5, let alone to 9 or 10, are low. But anything is possible on draft night.
With veterans, Reggie Nelson and Sean Smith most likely gone and David Amerson already a Kansas City Chief, the Raiders need help in the secondary. Fitzpatrick would give them a once in a decade talent at safety.
Fitzpatrick’s teammates call him “Coach Saban’s Son” and Gruden will love a player who always wants to work with the staff to get better.
Offensive Guard Quenton Nelson
While the offensive line is far down on a list of the Raiders needs, Nelson shows the potential of being a Hall of Fame type of player.
Nelson is a physical guard who could help solidify the Raiders offensive line for years to come. The downside is the Raiders would have to shuffle a couple of players around to make a spot for him unless they want to try him a tackle, which some experts say would be an easy transition for him.
Linebacker Roquan Smith
Raider Nation is pretty high on Smith and would love for him to be selected by the Raiders. Linebacker is one of their biggest needs and Smith shows the ability to be a good one.
— RaiderRamble.com™ (@TheRaiderRamble) January 25, 2018
Smith has sideline-to-sideline speed and is amazing in coverage. Where he lacks, however, is defending the run, especially in the middle of the field.
With the Raiders moving to a 4-3 this year, Smith fits the mold of an outside linebacker for them. Gruden typically likes veteran linebackers and general manager Reggie McKenzie doesn’t seem to like taking linebackers in the first round.
Linebacker Tremaine Edmunds
Of all the linebackers in this class, Edmunds has the biggest upside. At only 19 years old, Edmunds is arguably better than Smith and Rashaan Evans.
Edmunds also has tape rushing the passer, which could make him more desirable than Smith. At such a young age he can be molded to be anything Gruden wants him to be.
As with Smith, Gruden likes veteran linebackers. Would he be willing to grab the youngest linebacker or would he rather sign a cheap veteran?
Cornerback Joshua Jackson
With Amerson gone and Sean Smith likely to follow, getting a young corner will be a priority for the Raiders this offseason. Jackson is the best all-around cornerback in this class.
Jackson is a lot like Sydney Jones from last year. During the season, he didn’t get all the attention he deserved but now scouts are starting to see he is a Top 10 talent.
Defensive Lineman Vita Vea
Vita Vea has been getting a lot of attention from analysts and Raiders fans because of his pure strength and how he overpowered many offensive linemen in college.
Vea could be a great piece for a Raiders team that sorely needs pass rush help. Outside of edge rusher Khalil Mack and defensive lineman Mario Edwards Jr., the Raiders have no long-term answers on the defensive line.
Vea has the size to play nose tackle but is powerful enough to rush the passer with Mack and Edwards.
Running Back Derrius Guice
Many people may see running back as too deep of a position to draft in the first round, but when a talent like Guice is available, you take him.
Guice replaced Leonard Fournette at LSU and was arguably better. He is much faster than Fournette and has better hands out of the backfield.
He fits the mold of a Jon Gruden back and could make the offense dynamic again.
Edge Rusher Arden Key
Many teams will be watching Key this off-season, not for what he did on the field, but off of it. Key left the team for personal reasons last off-season and it led to a disappointing year for him.
With the right coaching and support, Key could become one of the top edge rushers in football. Think of a more NFL-ready Daniel Hunter.
Gruden is the exact coach to use Key the way he should be used and build him into one of the best edges in the league.
Trade back with the Buffalo Bills
This last scenario will only happen if one of the top QB’s falls to number nine or 10. In this trade, the Bills would get the Raiders’ 1st round and a 6th round pick and give the Raiders the 21 and 22 picks along with a 4th for 2019.
Last year, the Bills acquired two first-round picks for the 10th pick in the draft and with many experts feeling this is a weak class, they will be alright with giving up the first for this year. The picks would help the Raiders fill two of their needs early.
No matter which of these scenarios happens, the Raiders will be in a good spot to get a great player to join their roster and make a push back to the playoffs.