Less than two weeks away from the annual event and the prognosticating for the NFL draft will only become a stronger and maniacal whirlwind.
It’s like a buffet line, really. Take your pick! One of these mock drafts is bound to appeal to you!
Tis the season NFL teams send out smokescreens to cover up who appeals to them. Is the cat-and-mouse game really necessary for a crapshoot of an event?
Yes, yes it is. The fanatic wants it. Yearns for it. (Take a look at the anxiety and anger when rookie ratings are revealed in the Madden video game franchise.)
Video. Game. Rating. That’s fanatical.
But, I too cannot be pulled away from the lunacy. The change in my forecast for the Oakland Raiders’ first-round and second round picks is surely going to have peeps labeling me a lunatic.
Round 1: 10th overall
Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
Previous: Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan
The Raiders nab another corner out of DB University. While sleight at 5-foot-10 and 191 pounds, Ward plays with impressive physicality and is a readymade to man the nickel straight away. He’s got the talent and the football IQ to become an outside corner after year one, and with Oakland slated to start second-year man Gareon Conley (Ward’s college teammate) and veteran Rashaan Melvin (1-year deal), Ward helps solidify what had been a shaky position. Not to mention two talented corners on rookie contracts is quite nice on the salary cap. I steered clear of an interior disruptor as I’ve got an inkling the Raiders will invest late-round picks in that department (Sam Houston DT PJ Hall, for example).
Round 2: 41st overall
Arden Key, Edge, LSU
Previous: Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa
Oakland’s pass rush is going to be key to their success this coming season and what a fitting way to get more bite than taking Key. The 2016 version was a fearsome pass rusher (11 sacks). But the 2017 version was hindered by injury (don’t lie, you know this is a Reggie McKenzie preferred trait) and attitude issues. But it’s hard to ignore Key’s pass-rush prowess when he’s dialed in. He does need to get bulkier to be a rusher in the Raiders 4-3 scheme. He weighed in at a light 238 pounds at the combine.
Round 3: 75th overall
Orlando Brown Jr., OT, Oklahoma State
Previous: Rashaad Penny, RB, San Diego State
A disastrous showing at the combine is going to lead to a Brown fall, but it will be the Raiders’ gain. Massive with a distinct mean streak, Brown is a trench warrior despite what the Underwear Olympics showed. Sure, he gets beat on film — every offensive lineman prospect has. But when he beats his man, he beats his man. Old-school drubbing. That’s the mentality the Raiders talented offensive line needs to rekindle. The Nation of Domination O-Line needs to return and Brown can add nastiness to the group.
Round 4: 110th overall
Dante Pettis, WR, Washington
Previous: Shaquem Griffin, LB, University of Central Florida
Head coach Jon Gruden isn’t happy with the depth he has at wide receiver and Rich Bisaccia is without a potent return man. Pettis is the cat that will make both coaches happy. The speedster housed nine career punt returns while racking up 24 touchdowns from scrimmage on offense in his four years as a Husky. His route running needs refinement but with Amari Cooper and Jordy Nelson starting ahead of him and Gruden and Edgar Bennett as his coaches, Pettis’ electricity can multiply exponentially. Side note: Some see him as always the beta and not alpha receiver.