Before you get into the meat of this prediction for every pick of the Oakland Raiders in this draft, please take a look at the round one mock with trades found here.
Now that you have seen the mock and understand why the Raiders will have two first-round picks, it would be prudent to have a discussion regarding issues of value with the Raiders. The issue that always rose for me when discussing what the Raiders should do in the first round, is weighing the needs of the immediate future with the needs of the long-term future.
For example, as previously mentioned in the preamble to the mock draft, the Raiders invested four million dollars in Gilchrist to play as a slot defensive back and six million for Melvin to play as outside cornerback. The Raiders will likely play nickel about 70% of the time. Yes, there is a hole at linebacker, but the Raiders could create cap space and resign NaVorro Bowman. With Bruce Irvin now as a defensive end, Mario Edwards Jr. as a defensive tackle next to Justin Ellis, and then Khalil Mack at the other end, there really is no immediate hole on defense outside of linebacker.
In the mock, Roquan Smith went six overall to the Colts which is an outcome with a significant amount of chatter around it. The best way to balance the investment made for this season and to prepare for the long-term is to invest in those positions later in the draft so there is no inherent need to press to start those players. Instead, the Raiders could extend both Gilchrist and Melvin to short deals next offseason if they are not happy with the development of late picks during this season.
Another fact to consider, the bulk of the Raiders’ interviews have been later round defensive players. This tells me that the Raiders are more certain with their pre-draft process on offensive positions because they are focused on more refined picks for the offense. In reality, the Raiders have the least amount of long-term capital wrapped up in right tackle, running back, and wide receiver. Add to that fact, the idea that with right tackle the Raiders could see immediate contributions while grooming a long-term solution at left tackle, and now you have a succession plan. By the time a 2018 rookie offensive tackle would be ready to take over for Donald Penn at left tackle, David Sharpe would be at a premier opportunity to become the solution at right tackle.
Wide receiver is unique because the Raiders do have a number one receiver in Amari Cooper who will be getting paid soon, but they have little long-term stability since the only other proven talent they have is an old Jordy Nelson. Finding someone who can develop into a true number two, while being a solid slot receiver in 2018 is imperative.
These considerations are what has formed my theory on how the first round of the draft will go and also what the approach will be for the Raiders in this draft. Quick note, every player mentioned after round two, interviewed or met with the Raiders at some point in the pre-draft process.
Round 1: The Cardinals trade their second and third round picks to the Raiders for 10 overall. Number 15 becomes the Raiders first pick.
Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
Adding McGlinchey gives the Raiders a day one starter at right tackle who also has long-term value at left tackle. If Penn’s play decreases by any significant amount this season, the Raiders could cut him in 2019, move McGlinchey to the left side and allow Sharpe to start at right tackle. Ultimately the Raiders have 125 million reasons to invest in the offensive line and it is the position that will provide them the most bang for their buck with their early draft capital.
The Eagles have stated they would like to trade out of 32 overall. Reggie McKenzie and Jon Gruden seeing the value of having a fifth-year option for a starting running back, trade both the second and third round picks from the Cardinals and draft a second first rounder at 32.
Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
He runs like Marshawn, he can learn from Marshawn, and now the Raiders have him locked in for a discount rate for five years. If he becomes the bell cow back they believe he can be, it is even more of a bargain.
Round 2, Pick 31: Anthony Miller, WR, Memphis
Memphis runs a weird form of spread with some peculiar run-pass options, however, Miller has shown the ability to run after the catch and handle himself in traffic. He is a little shorter than Amari and slightly thicker which means he can handle some stiffer shots. For the long-term as Miller develops his routes, he can eventually work himself in as the number two and allow Nelson to be a third specialty receiver.
Other option Dante Pettis, WR, UW
Round 3, Pick 73: Chad Thomas, DE, Miami
Originally I viewed Thomas as a five-technique or defensive tackle, but he came to the combine weighing in at a svelte 281 pounds and if he trimmed down to 270 pounds, he would be a clone of Carlos Dunlap. He is long, but he has a devastating inside rip and abnormal quickness. Long term, the Raiders could make him the strong side defensive end and allow Mack to take over the weakside once Irvin is gone.
Other option: Arden Key, Edge, LSU
Round 4 Pick 112: Dalton Schultz, TE, Stanford
This is the perfect heir apparent to Lee Smith, except for the fact that he is also a weapon up the seam. Schultz could be an immediate contributor because he is that good of a blocker and from a pro-style system, but giving him a year or two in an NFL weight room is ideal.
Round 5 Pick 159: Levi Wallace, CB, Alabama
This is the Bama defensive back you never heard of. He was a walk-on for Saban and was a multi-year starter on the outside for the Tide. His story is very similar to Rashaan Melvin’s story of being overlooked and now the Raiders can develop him for a couple of years before turning to him into a full-time starter. If the season is great, they could let Melvin walk in free agency and start Wallace in year two.
Round 5 Pick 173: Dane Cruikshank, DB, UA
This is the closest thing to a clone for Gilchrist in this draft. Dane is highly athletic and was asked to play the exact position that I envision Gilchrist will be playing for the Raiders. He is solid in his zone coverage, he is a willing tackler, a solid blitzer, and a great athletic profile.
Round 6 Pick 185: Parry Nickerson, CB, Tulane
Very simply, this was the fastest guy at the combine. He has the potential to be a quality special teamer and if nothing else he can be a quality contributor for depth among the defensive back group.
Round 6 Pick 212: James Looney, DT, Cal
This is the local boy and late round three technique that could step into the hole left by Edwards Jr if he has a big year and leaves in free agency. He and Treyvon Hester would make for a great camp battle.
Round 6 Pick 216: Khalil McKenzie, NT, Tennessee
It was reported that Reggie told Khalil to come out. He could immediately earn a spot as a rotational nose tackle. Guenther tends to carry three nose tackles on his defensive depth chart. If he does not make the roster immediately, he can do some quality work on the practice squad, build himself up, and become a quality rotational nose tackle.
Round 6 Pick 217: Ryan Nall, FB, OSU
Here is your ex-big halfback turned fullback and now he will be the athletic fullback to pair with his designated blocker in Keith Smith.
Round 7 Pick 228: Mike Dickson/JK Scott, Punters
The Raiders interviewed both before they cut Marquette King. I think they were so comfortable with both that they cut King fully intending to draft one of them. Dickson has a bigger leg, but Scott is the prototype corner coffin punter. Pick your poison.
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