Raider Nation is eagerly waiting to see what head coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock do with their selections (four picks in the top 35 — No. 4, 24, 27 and 35 — and four more in latter rounds — No. 106, 140, 218 and 235 — to continue the process of reshaping the Raiders.
With only one more week remaining before the spectacle of the NFL draft, Mayock, Gruden and Co. are going through simulations of the draft process.
Who knows what will go down when the Arizona Cardinals are officially on the clock, but …
This is the fourth and second to last edition of my mock.
No. 4: Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State
Kyler Murray and Quinnen Williams go to the Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers, respectively, and the New York Jets trade the No. 3 pick to the Giants. Mayock and Gruden are anxious to see if the top player on their board goes to NY, however, the G-Men nab Dwayne Haskins allowing Bosa to fall to the Raiders.
Oakland quickly pounces on the Buckeye pass rusher who brings an excellent blend of athleticism and ruthless aggression on the Raiders defensive line. Like bigger brother, Bosa has an array of pass rush moves and is effective dropping the quarterback and snuffing out the run.
Affectionately dubbed “MAGA Mack” by some in Raider Nation, Bosa – politics regardless – is an impact defender Paul Guenther sorely needs on his side of the ball.
Previous: Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama
No. 24: Chris Lindstrom, G, Boston College
This isn’t going to be a sexy pick and Raider Nation will certainly be miffed. However, the Raiders went on a “get Carr better weapons” excursion this offseason and thus, a plug-and-play guard to help shore up the offensive line.
Lindstrom is a cerebral lineman whose brawn matches his wits. He’s got quick feet that are always moving and comes with the requisite mean streak to be an enforcer both in pass protection and in the run game.
Gruden states in pressers the guard position still needs attention and by drafting Lindstrom, it’s no longer a concern.
Previous: Rashan Gary, DE, Michigan
No. 27: Trade with New England Patriots
Watching the Iowa tight ends T.J. Hockenson and Noah Fant go much earlier than expected, the Pats trade up five spots with Oakland to nab Alabama’s Irv Smith Jr to fill the void left by Rob Gronkowski. In exchange, Mayock and Gruden land pick No. 32, a third rounder (No. 73) and a sixth (205) – picks the teams were missing due to trades.
No. 32: Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma
Gruden made it abundantly clear the Raiders need more speed and “Hollywood” has a lot of it – Lisfranc injury, be damned. While Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams headline the receiver group, free agents Ryan Grant and JJ Nelson are next on the depth chart. Those two names don’t inspire much confidence.
Adding Brown to that mix gives Oakland a burner deep threat who not only has the wheels and route-running ability, but eyes and hands to track the ball in flight. With a revamped offensive line and other weapons in the arsenal, adding Hollywood gives Derek Carr another deep-bomb artist.
Previous: Byron Murphy, CB, Washington
No. 35: DeAndre Baker, CB, Georgia
Cornerback is another area of concern stressed by Gruden and the Raiders land a good one in Baker. The Bulldogs corner is quick, instinctive and smooth and shows he can play either man or zone.
While Baker isn’t the fastest corner on the block, in Paul Guenther’s zone-based, two-deep coverage scheme, Baker’s uncanny ability to read and react will prove extremely fruitful in the Raiders’ Cover 2 scheme. He’s consistently in position to make plays and that’s something Oakland needs in a pass-happy AFC West.
Previous: Dalton Risner, OL, Kansas State
No. 73: Zach Allen, DE, Boston College
Mayock lands another BC cat in Allen. He isn’t as refined as other edge prospects in this draft – hence why he’ll be available in the third round – but there aren’t many better at setting the edge and burying the run than Allen.
He’s an ideal 4-3 base end on the strong side in the Raiders defense and Allen also has the size and weight to move inside, if need be. Power is the name of his game, especially when rushing the quarterback. And it isn’t his bend or athleticism that gets him to QBs, it’s his relentless nature.
Previous: Chase Winovich, DE, Michigan
No. 106: Josh Oliver, TE, San Jose State
This Spartan can fill the void left by Jared Cook at the tight end position. Athletic and able to track the football, Oliver burst onto the scene in his final year at San Jose State as a smooth pass catcher.
He spent the first two years of his collegiate career as a pure blocking tight end and eventually blossomed in to a receiving one. This bolds well for his pro career, especially in Gruden’s offense where tight ends must block.
Previous: Armani Hooker, S, Iowa
No. 140: Tre Watson, LB, Maryland
Highly instinctive with a nose for the football, Watson is a linebacker built for the modern NFL in terms of defending both the run and pass. He shoots the gap, fills holes and plays with violence, but not volatile where it takes him out of the play.
He was a tackling machine for Maryland last year and picked off an impressive five passes. The Raiders are lacking coverage linebackers.
Previous: Kahale Warring, TE, San Diego State
No. 205: Brett Rypien, QB, Boise State
Not many quarterbacks are poised in a noisy pocket like Rypien, the nephew of NFL great Mark Rypien. While his arm leaves something to be deserved, Brett’s high football IQ and ability to read a defense and make a decision are sound. It’s Brett’s intelligence that will draw Gruden to this late-round QB.
No. 218: Keesean Johnson, WR, Fresno State
A smooth route runner and pass catcher that led the Bulldogs passing attack and is atop the school record books for catches and receiving yards. He’s extremely quick from the jump but hits top-end speed quickly and doesn’t have another gear. But he knows how to get open and consistently catches the rock.
Previous: Gary Johnson, LB, Texas
No. 235: Derick Roberson, DE, Sam Houston State
Even without PJ Hall – Raiders second-round selection last year – to draw attention, Roberson’s production increased with a 15-sack 2018 campaign. His pass-rush toolbox is rather light; however, he’s got a lightning-quick first step and has an endless motor. Gruden Grinder, anyone?
Previous: Keelan Doss, WR, UC Davis