May The Fourth Be With You

Is it April already?

We’re a long a ways off but the speculation grows in intensity every single day we get closer to the NFL draft. A rabid Raider Nation is salivating at the ridiculous amounts of possibilities with Jon Gruden owning a trio of first-round selections (No. 4 overall, 24 and 27).

Will the Raiders make three selections? Will they use picks to maneuver up or down? Will Gruden heed Mike Mayock’s scouting reports? Will Gruden go buckwild?

And that’s just scratching the surface of the myriad of questions regarding this coming draft. There are the post-season games that have to be played — namely the Senior Bowl where the Raiders coaching staff leads the North team — then the Underwear Olympics (combine) and Pro Days.

Sandwiched in between all that scouting madness is free agency (March).

“We have a lot of cap room,” Derek Carr told Christoper Gabriel on 940ESPN. “If we can spend that capital to get some good players, not just average players, we’re closer than some people give us credit for.”

Mayock, Gruden and the rest of the Raiders personnel department are high-octane busy before they somewhat get a reprieve after the flurry of undrafted free agent signings immediately after the draft.

So ramp up for the plethora of mock drafts and opines from beat writers, columnists and bloggers across the sportsverse.

I’m not jumping into the mock draft just yet, but here are names I would consider “shocking” at No. 4 overall to the Raiders:

Kyler Murray: A quarterback would truly be a metal knife into the electrical socket moment for many fans. While the Raiders surely need some electricity when they eventually depart for Las Vegas — and the Oklahoma products blend of sweet feet and cannon arm are scintillating — Carr is the entrenched starter. And Gruden has been nothing but praising of DC.

“Obviously, we have a quarterback, we don’t need one of those,” Carr said. “That’s a good thing.”

However, Gruden showed he can say one thing and do another. Could he fall in love with Murray and take him at 4?

See, you can’t even say “no” emphatically, can you?

Devin White: The Raiders are in dire need of an impact do-it-all linebacker and this LSU Tiger fits the bill (123 tackles, 3 sacks, 3 forced fumbles). He is a beautiful blend of athleticism and instincts. Yet, is a non-edge rush linebacker worthy of the No. 4 pick, especially for a team bereift of quality defensive talent? It seems the 4th pick should be someone that can drop the QB or one that protects one

Jonah Williams: Tom Cable gets his say again and the Raiders snag this Alabama offensive tackle. The roar of disapproval would be thick and voices would be coarse if the Raiders take another offensive lineman after taking 2 in last year’s draft. Still, Carr needs protecting and Williams can help a OL lacking depth. But there are murmurs Williams would be a better fit at guard instead of tackle.

Greedy Williams: The LSU Tigers send a group of talented defenders into the draft and Greedy is one of them. The Raiders have questionable talent and depth behind Gareon Conley and Williams (71 tackles, 8 interceptions and 19 pass breakups in two years) can form a formidable 1-2 cover tandem. Draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. pegged Greedy to Raiders at 4, but I don’t think Williams as at the same level Charles Woodson was when Gruden and Al Davis took him at 4 in 1998.

Rashan Gary: A Michigan Wolverine at 4 — again? C-Wood was 4th in ‘98 and Gary has the size, speed and aggression to be a base end in the Raiders’ 4-3 defense. But a team famished for pass rush (league-low 13 sacks last season) needs a supreme QB harrier and there are prospects with that exact skillset available at 4. Gary doesn’t quite fit that profile.

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