In four (short or long) weeks, the spectacle of the NFL Draft descends upon us. (So, does the release of Avengers: Endgame and Days Gone, but I digress). Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden and his chosen general manager Mike Mayock have meticulously navigated free agency and the additions should allow the Silver & Black to be surgical April 25-27.
Over the course of those three days the Raiders embark on supplementing the roster young foundation pieces. Gruden and Mayock hold four picks in the Top 35 and Raider Nation is eagerly awaiting which names will be called at said selections. This is my initial foray into the mock world, and a lot can change between now and draft day. This will be the first of four weekly mocks as we get closer to the event.
No. 4: Trade
Gruden’s QB expedition – he’s slated to workout Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray and Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins — works as the New York Giants trade up to nab their quarterback of the future in Haskins. In return, Oakland gets the No. 6 overall pick, a third-rounder (95th overall) and one of New York’s fifth-round picks (143rd overall).
No. 6: Devin White, LB, LSU
Sure, the Raiders signed veterans Vontaze Burfict and Brandon Marshall in free agency, however, you can’t pass up a prototype linebacker who can captain the defense or learn on the job alongside Burfict or Marshall. A physical tackler who excels at stopping the run and has the wheels and athleticism to be a nuisance in the pass game, White sets the tone and can be the vocal leader of the Raiders defense for years to come. Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther mentioned he would adjust his scheme to a player and White is one of those prospects.
No. 24: Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson
With the Raiders missing out the top-tier edge rushers, they nab the violent Tiger near the tail end of the draft. Ferrell was a habitual harrier of the quarterback and became stronger against the run and setting the edge, making him a solid option as the strong side defensive end in the Raiders’ scheme.
No. 27: Trade
The Raiders get a call from the Patriots and send this pick to New England in exchange for a fourth-rounder (134th) and a 2020 second-rounder. The Patriots nab Iowa’s Noah Fant to help replace the retired Rob Gronkowski.
No. 32: Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma
Gruden harped on the need for speed on offense and the Raiders get that and more in Antonio Brown’s cousin. Yes, a Lisfranc injury is concerning – especially the history behind the ailment (see Darren McFadden) – but Brown has the hands, route-running and wiggle to sizzle the opposition. Learning the pro game with cousin Antonio would be a boon for Oakland.
No. 35: Dalton Risner, OL, Kansas State
Gruden specifically mentioned left guard as an area of concern and while Risner was a tackle, he’s more than capable of moving inside. He was a center before moving out to the edge at tackle and has the strength to redirect defensive linemen. His nasty demeanor in run blocking would be welcome after the Raiders shipped Kelechi Osemele to the Jets this offseason.
No. 95: Jachai Polite, DE, Florida
Poor testing numbers at both the NFL combine and the Gators’ pro day combined with reported poor interviews at the scouting event sinks his draft stock, however, the Raiders add more teeth to a toothless pass rush. Despite his 5.05 timed 40, Polite played faster on film and was an edge terror.
No. 106: Joejuan Williams, CB, Vanderbilt
The Raiders did well to add to the secondary in free agency, but the pickups lacked in size. At nearly 6-foot-4, Williams has the length to matchup with bigger receivers in the league. While speed is an issue, his ability to play the ball and tackle are not. His height and measurables allowed him to win most of contested catch battles.
No. 134: John Cominsky, DE, Charleston
Guenther prefers stout ends on the strong side of his scheme and at 6-foot-5, 286 pounds and 4.66 speed, this small-school product fits the bill. His closing burst as a run defender at his size is impressive and Cominsky can grow as a pass rusher with proper coaching.
No. 140: Khalil Hodge, LB, Buffalo
A tackling machine ever since he arrived on Campus, Hodge tested poorly at his pro day. Yet, the film doesn’t lie, as he was a steady and consistent presence for Buffalo. The Raiders added a linebacker in free agency who tested poorly but blossomed under Guenther’s tutelage.
No. 143 Dawson Knox, TE, Mississippi
While not as heralded as his counterparts, Knox ran a 4.57 40 at Ole Miss’ pro day and showed he can be a seam-buster with an impressive 18.9 yards per catch. He’s a quality blocker as well with aggression and drive to take his man out of the picture.
No. 218: Alec Ingold, FB, Wisconsin
The battering ram for Wisconsin’s run-based offense, Ingold is an old-school fullback who can mash the opposition into submission as a lead blocker. He’s capable in short-yardage situations as well scoring 20 touchdowns on 112 touches.
No. 235: Easton Stick, QB, North Dakota State
This dual-threat quarterback would be a fine addition to Gruden’s quarterback room. While he doesn’t have the Howitzer like Derek Carr, Stick has a football IQ and moxie the Raiders head coach loves in players. Gruden once had a mobile QB who didn’t have the best gun.