Raiders: What To Do On Draft Day?

The Oakland Raiders Should Draft Vita Vea

The 2018 NFL Draft is right around the corner, and after a disappointing 2017 season, the Oakland Raiders find themselves picking inside the top ten for the eighth time since 2000. While Raider Nation would prefer that the Silver and Black pick at 32 every year, last year’s pain is this year’s gain.

Inside the top ten, the Oakland Raiders can grab an elite draft prospect who can come in and make an impact immediately. This year, I believe that prospect is defensive tackle, Vita Vea.

The State of the Defense

Let’s be completely honest, there’s no way the Oakland Raiders are drafting anything but defense with this pick. The offense should be fine, especially with Jon Gruden bringing in players like Derek Carrier and Keith Smith to support his love of power runs and spider 2Y banana, but the defense needs help.

The unit was bad last year, no doubt about it, and while it’s true that a big part of their struggles can be attributed to poor coaching, the defense also lacks depth. Khalil Mack is the only dominant player on the squad, and while there are good starters, like Justin Ellis, Bruce Irvin, and Karl Joseph, this team has a ton of question marks. A fact that really sums up this team’s lack of depth is that even looking at the roster and knowing new defensive coordinator, Paul Guenther’s preferences, we’re still not entirely sure they’re running a 4-3 this year.

However, that’s not to say the unit is wholly terrible. Last year’s first and second round picks, defensive backs Gareon Conley and Obi Melifonwu, didn’t really get to make an impact last season thanks to injuries. And regardless of whether you blame Ken Norton Jr. or Jack Del Rio, the defensive scheme was pretty dreadful for most of the season. Who knows how good the defense could’ve been with some actual coaching. Not to mention, the unit has already made a few nice additions.

Free Agency

Reggie McKenzie was his normal, quiet self during day one of free agency, but on Thursday and Friday, he got busy. Ignoring the offensive additions, McKenzie was able to find a few decent defenders for a good price. He added safety Marcus Gilchrest, corners Rashaan Melvin and Shareece Wright, and lured in linebacker Tahir Whitehead. While this unit isn’t one that will give the 1985 Chicago Bears a run for their money, it should be better than the one fans suffered through last year.

These moves gave the Raiders some much-needed depth, and most importantly, gave them flexibility come the draft. Before Wright and Melvin signed, it felt like the Raiders almost had to draft a corner with their tenth pick because Gareon Conley was the only starting caliber back on the roster. But with corner and linebacker being addressed, the team could essentially draft the best player available.

The Other Guys

Four other names come to mind when you look at who the Raiders could select with the tenth overall pick. Corner Denzel Ward, safety Derwin James, and linebackers Tremaine Edmunds and Roquan Smith have frequently been mocked to the Raiders. And being completely honest, all of those guys could be a huge help. The Raiders have some depth on defense, but outside of 2016’s Defensive Player of the Year, they don’t have a ton of star power.

Denzel Ward

Ward would not only give the Raiders a young corner to pair with Gareon Conley, but it would reunite Buckeye teammates. While Ward is a little small for the position, he makes up for it with incredible athleticism and great awareness when the ball is in the air. He could be a real asset to the team, but he’s not who I’d pick.

Derwin James

James is a big, athletic safety that could come in and play opposite of Karl Joseph very nicely. He’s versatile, a great locker room player, and a student of the game. Giving the Raiders a young, talented secondary tandem could scare some teams in the AFC West. He’s got incredible potential, but he’s not who I’d go with.

Tremaine Edmunds

Tremaine Edmunds is unlike any linebacker prospect any of us have ever seen. He’s got incredible speed for his size, running a 4.54 at 6’5″, 253 pounds. He has the size, frame, and athleticism to line up just about anywhere for the Raiders, and you’ve got to know a creative coaching staff like Oakland’s would have a field day moving him around. He could do just about anything you ask, but again, he’s not who I’d pick.

Roquan Smith

If Tremaine Edmunds is the high-ceiling, raw monster of this draft, Georgia’s Roquan Smith is the high-floor, safe pick. That’s not always a bad thing, as many people preferred Kevin White’s upside to the polished Amari Cooper a couple of years back and we saw how that worked out. Smith has a great understanding of the game and is a fantastic athlete that could come in and be a starting inside linebacker day one for the Raiders. However, I’d pass.

Who I’d Pick

There’s a new trend in the NFL, where teams are moving away from edge rushers and looking towards interior pressure. When was the last time the Oakland Raiders had a dominant defensive tackle? Richard Seymour? Warren Sapp? It’s been a second. And honestly, it’s hurt the Raiders in the past. That should change this year with Washington’s Vita Vea.

Vea is a physical specimen, standing at 6’4″, 347 pounds. Despite being an all-you-can-eat buffet away from 400 pounds, he was able to register a 5.1 40 yard dash while still doing 41 reps on the bench. He’s a great athlete at his size and can fit in on a defense regardless of whether the team runs a 3-4 or a 4-3. He can come in, create interior pressure, and help stuff the run. But that’s not the best part of what he brings to the team. Because the person that benefits the most from drafting Vita Vea is Mack.

Unleash The Beast

Even the most passionate Raider haters cannot deny Mack’s greatness. The former Defensive Player of the Year has been a disruptive force since the moment he first put on the Silver and Black and has registered 40.5 sacks in just four seasons. He’s one of the most feared defenders in the NFL, and he’s been this dominant with little to no help on the defensive line and defensive schemes that were more vanilla than what many teams run in the preseason.

It looks like the Raiders are going to run a 4-3 this year, with Mack on one side and Bruce Irvin on the other. The Raiders re-signed Justin “Jelly” Ellis, so he’ll likely be one of the defensive tackles, but that leaves the other spot open. Right now, that would leave either Treyvon Hester, Eddie Vanderdoes or Mario Edwards Jr. inside. While both of those men have shown flashes over the years, it would be nice to add another disruptive tackle inside.

Just imagine a defensive line rotation featuring Mack, Irvin, Hester, Jelly, Vea, Edwards Jr., and Vanderdoes. Suddenly the line would become one of the team’s strengths as opposed to an area where it lacks depth. Not to mention the obvious, that teams would have to scheme against Vea as well as Mack and Irvin, giving everyone involved an easy road to the quarterback or ball-carrier.

Credit Where Credit is Due

Either way, McKenzie deserves a lot of credit. He didn’t go out and get Ndamukong Suh and Trumaine Johnson, but he signed enough pieces to make the defense relatively presentable. Instead of having to reach on a need, the Raiders have the ability to draft the best player available, and in my opinion, that’ll be Vea.

But what do you think? Let us know in the comment section below. Who do you think the Oakland Raiders should select with the tenth overall pick in the draft? Or, if you think we should trade it, who do you think we should trade up/down for?

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52 thoughts on “Raiders: What To Do On Draft Day?”

  1. Vea is quickly becoming the most overrated player in this draft. There are better DTs later in this draft. Harrison Phillips being one of them. Phillips tested very similarly, played in the same conference, but his production was head & shoulders & then some better. Vea’s Stat line was 43 tackles, 5.5 for loss, 3.5 sacks. Phillips stat line was 98 tackles, 17 for loss & 7.5 sacks. Vea had 9.5 sacks total and his numbers were down last year. Phillips had back to back 7+ sack season and all of his numbers went up. & again, that’s against the same competition. That guys actually a football player. Finds the ball. Plays w/ leverage. & the NFL isn’t getting away from edge rushers, they’re just hard to find, so they’re supplementing the guys they have by helping w/ interior pressure. In 2016, we heard all about this great DT class that was gonna change the league. Not one is helping their team play good D. Many, especially the media’s darling that year Robert Nkemdiche, have flopped hard. DT is an overrated position. It’s nice when you’ve got a guy or 2 there, but should never be the focus of your D.

    Roquan Smith is special. Vea will be a disappointment.

  2. If we get Suh at a reasonable price. Vea will not be the pick. It will be Smith, James or Edmunds

  3. Yes! Yes! Yes! Been saying this for weeks if not months it all starts with the line then everything trickles down from there Vea is def. who we should target

  4. I believe that strengthening the defensive line is the way to go. In spite of relatively weak defensive schemes during Norton’s tenure, Mack was very effective but typically moments from creating more disruption due to a lack of pressure up front. Incorporating Vea coupled with a more sophisticated defense and hopefully an improved secondary, will increase the likelihood that Mack can produce higher sack totals. I think Vea is the pick and now it’s up to Chucky and RM to make it happen!

  5. Michael. Schneider

    Big V if he is still on board. Other then him Edmunds is a no brainer. Especially if they dont sign Bowmen.

  6. Gabriel D. Martin

    You hit the nail on the head, hit it out of the park, etc. More interior pressure. Vea, or the DT from AL. We need one or two more big space eaters. I was a little bummed that we let Autry go. I think unleashing Irvin, opposite Mack, is the right way to go. I’m looking for Vanderdoes to improve this year as well. The last coaching staff failed in their ability to coach anybody up.

  7. I couldn’t agree more with your assessment. If we don’t sign Suh the we need to resign Bowman and then draft Vea. We haven’t had interior pass rusher since the days of Tommy Kelly and Richard Seymour.

  8. I’ve considered the vea pick alot as well, but I believe the biggest thing we are missing on defense isn’t talented players but an intelligent fiery leader that’s super passionate, from what I hear that’s who roquon is so that’s what I think we need. Veas presence would be undeniable but long term I like roquon I think he adds more value to our team. Then again we could be one ball hawking Josh Jackson away from this defense getting scary looking.

  9. There’s still a chance RM signs Suh, as he is visiting the facility today and Reggie is expected to make a strong push to make sure he doesnt leave w/o a contract. If that happens, Vita would be off the table regardless.

    Imho, RM should continue improving his stock of picks until draft day, when he uses some of that capital to move up and get Fitz. He would instantly be the 2ND best player on the defense and would give Oakland a Woodson’esque player roaming the secondary.

    Signing Suh would be a very strong push in that direction, as that pretty much replaces Vita as the Rd 1 pick. With the slew of QB’s basically guaranteed to come off the board over the 1st 4 or 5 picks, this is the perfect opportunity to get in the 5 or 6 range and nab the best defender in the draft.

  10. If we sign suh, then it’s eithet a DB or LB. I’d be happy with any of those guys. It would be a big upgrade. My prediction is DB , LB, and DT in the first three rounds in that order.

  11. I’ve had Vea and Edmonds penciled in as my top choices for a while now.
    I do however like Edmonds over Vea, but I’d be thrilled with either.

  12. Happy with either Edmonds or Smith, both are special, especially Edmunds… but I agree with you, Vea will help the back end tremendously. This is wishful thinking, but it would be really cool if the Raiders could swing a deal with the Bills, trading their #10 pick for #12 and 22 – that way you could land Vea and perhaps Rashaan Mathis, Josh Jackson, Mike Hughes or Jaire Alexander.

  13. My Raiders Mock Draft has been filled out for months and Vea has always been my #10 pick for the Raiders. The way Reggie and Gruden have used free agency leads me to believe we’re on the same page. Addressed Linebacker, addressed Cornerback, added depth at Safety but nothing at the middle of our D-Line. It’s gotta be Vea!!!

  14. You may very well be the only person covering this topic who isn’t a complete idiot. haha. Vita Vea, he’s the guy. He’s a plug and play, pro bowler. And the idiots who want the big ‘splash signings” in free agency, don’t understand anything other than adding big names to the team. Free agency is for supplementing the team, not building it, especially at skill positions. Grabbing guys like Hudson, or KO is good in Free Agency because those are longer lived positions where a player can have continued success in the league through their second and third contracts. Skill positions like RB, LB and CB are best handled through the draft.

  15. Man ….a lot of “playmakers” in this draft. I really like Derwin James, something about Florida state and those DB’s . When there good, there great. Just ask “prime time” lol. Imagine James and Joseph up top and Obi shadowing TE’s. What once was a weakness now becomes a strength. Sticky coverage makes the QB hold it just a second longer and that allows for Mack and the boys to get there. I understand the need for an interior lineman but I also agree there could be one in the 2nd or 3rd that’s still on the board. Plus you never know what players can get released from now till July. Side note: I’m kind of excited about that kid Melvin(DB) we signed, looks like a player.

  16. I couldn’t agree with you more , I believe vita vea would have the most impact and could be a great play for a long time

  17. I li ke picking Vea. Stopping the run is vital for any team. That gives Mack and Irvin feast time on opposing quarterbacks which helps our defensive backs,so they don’t have to cover opponents all day. I like the linebackers,but sign Bowman and we can find more help in the draft.

  18. Like the analysis. The FA pick ups make me think they are going James or Vea. Question though, where is there better depth in the draft, DB or interior DL? If they miss in one area, who makes yp for it later?

  19. Either of the above players would improve their defense. Plenty of wholes t o fill wish we could pick up Suh and get Edmans or Smith now that would go along way to respectability

  20. Christopher Sandford

    I like Vea, but would rather have Smith or Edmundsin Rd 1 Phillips in Rd 2 and the top rated corner in Rd 3

  21. Clint – “overrated”? Yes Phillips had 98 tackles but only 37 solo to Vea’s 31. Washington had the #4 rushing defense in CFB, Stanford was #68. Phillips was a senior and played with 6 senior starter DL and Lbs. Vea was a junior and played with only 1 senior. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say Vea was double teamed a lot. This might be evident by the fact that Vea only had 3.5 sacks but the rest of his defense had 35.5 sacks where Phillips had 7 sacks but the rest of Stanford’s defense only had 25. Vea would make Mack and Irvin look like superheroes while stuffing the run. Raiders don’t need Vea to be Mr Sack. Tell Phildelpha Eagles, LA Rams, and Jacksonville Jags that D line isn’t that important. Not saying Phillips isn’t a good player but Raiders crazy not to take Vea @ 10.

  22. Trade down and get Barkley, then with the next pick grab a right tackle and we would have the most dominant offense in the nfl.

  23. AutunmWind/ Bristling black mustashe

    Vea would be awesome. if not him, Edmunds (LB) or Ward (CB) or Riddley (WR) to pair with cooper would be dynamic. either way, having a top 10 in this draft is case for an immediate impact player with the ability to start right away. Go Raider football, here come the playoffs. (fingers crossed)

  24. I’m all for Vita Vea, I believe that would be the best overall pick at #10 with the best upside.

  25. I agree. SB are won in the trenches on D for beginners. I day get the big man first then draft the best available corner then MLB then a solid RB in the 4th! Then take every brst avail. from there on out…

  26. Totally agree picking at the ten spot there is a luxury of selecting best player/athlete based on team need. Particularly this year when most of the top ten picks will be Qb’s Vea is best player and at a position of need for Oakland It will be very exciting to see how good Mack really is with a bit more talent around him. Go Raiders!

  27. The issue here for RM is not necessarily need. It’s about valuation in the first few rounds. There is nothing in his history that says he values LBs in the early rounds despite the obvious issues at that position over the years. Judging from his history, the likely pick will be CB, O Line, or Edge. That’s just the way his philosophy is in terms of valuation. Yes, there have been busts in the past with this mindset (Haden, Ward, etc.) however, that’s unlikely to deter a philosophy based on position value. I don’t think interior D line is valued high either, RM did pass on Star Letalui a few years back despite an obvious need. I think Vea, Edmonds, or Smith would be great adds but I just don’t think it will happen. Look for a DB or O lineman to be the pick and a possible trade back (or two) in order to hit value on the guys they want at those positions.

  28. Perfect outcome in the draft would be to trade with Buffalo and get Vea at 12 in the 1st. Rashann Evans or Maurice Hurst at 22 and then draft in round 2 OT Tyrell Crosby so next years biggest need isn’t O-Tackle. This is hypothetical and wont happen in the draft Bills wont be trading with us

  29. In addition, a monster like Vea will tie up lineman and keep our linebackers alot more able to move around cleanly and fill gaps…it’ll raise their level of play as well. I agree….Vea would be the ideal defensive pick for us.

  30. Sign bowman, and draft S Derwin James with the 10 pick. Karl Joseph, and James solidify the two safety positions for years to come we won’t have to draft there for a while. Take a DT in the 2nd Round, LB in the 3rd.
    That’s all to say if Barkley isn’t available if Barkleys there do you take him ?
    Go LB in the 2nd, DT/S in the 3rd ?…..
    I like the idea of having 3 safeties roaming on D. One giving pressure at the line of scrimmage playing a Rover/LB & 2 S deep Obi, Joseph, & James. Thats my draft dream, but this is Reggie and Grudens first draft together I’m sure they’ll be fireworks and will all be surprised.

  31. how the trades have been panning out – how i kinda see draft day unfolding. I see who oakland has in a seecondary coach, im looking at minkah whos stock took a hit because no one knows where he’ll play. raiders secondary coach knows where, i see a perfect fit

  32. I agree with this article one Billion percent. I’ve been posting this across boards for months. It’s a breathe of fresh air to read a journalist who knows what he is talking about. Vea cannot be blocked by any one man on earth. And sometimes 2 men can’t block him. He must be double teamed and just think what that would do for Mack lining up next to him. Mack will be the DPOY once again. Anyone out there who has any questions or doubts about this pick, you can do one very simple thing. Watch ANY game film of UDUB’s. It’s that easy.

  33. I like Roquan Smith at 10 and a DT in the 2nd. There is alot of depth at that spot this year and we could easily snag a disruptive presence at 42. But Roquan Smith is a sideline to sideline piece that will solidify our linebacking corps for a long time in my oppinion. If you saw him flying around against Bama this year you know what I’m talking about.

  34. I say draft Roquan Smith or Darwin James best pick all you have to do is look at Ray Lewis and Jalen Ramsey look at whatRay did for Baltimore and look at what Jalen did for Jacksonville not comparing the two I’m just saying

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