It’s almost here. All the speculation, all the prognostication, all the madness is going to end soon with the NFL Draft finally taking place this week.
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.
This is the final edition of my mock and, like most everyone else, it’s going to be completely wrong, but the exercise is fun nonetheless so let’s roll:
No. 4: Trade
The trade isn’t the shocker, it’s quarterback Kyler Murray not going No. 1 overall to Arizona what is surprising. Instead of drafting a signal caller, the Cardinals take defensive end Nick Bosa, San Francisco takes defensive tackle Quinnen Williams and the New York Jets go with linebacker Josh Allen (after finding no takers for the No. three pick). Afterwards, the Giants make a deal with the Raiders.
Raiders get: No. six pick, third rounder (95th overall) and sixth rounder (180th overall). Giants get: No. 4 pick; draft Kyler Murray.
Previous: Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State
No. 6: Ed Oliver, DT, Houston
Detractors want to immediately point out his less-than-ideal height and length, but when you turn on the Oliver tape, he’s fury personified. His feet are a blur and his intensity is jarring. That is the kind of talent that makes you truly question why the Texans pigeon holed him as a nose tackle.
The Raiders are in dire need of a defensive lineman of Oliver’s capability and because of his tale t, it’s easy to see why scouts and analyst see him moving from tackle to end and even linebacker. He has that much athleticism.
Mayock was sure to emphasize that quarterbacks around the league loathe pressure from the inside, not the edge, and Oliver can do that and then some. Imagine for a moment the matchups that would open for Oliver in Guenther’s scheme? He’d be flanked by a nose tackle and teams would need to make a choice blocking wise.
No. 24: Montez Sweat, DE, Mississippi State
While teams reportedly crossed him off their board due to an enlarged heart, landing Sweat here would be a boon for the Raiders. The choice is between Clemson defensive end Clelin Ferrell and Sweat and Oakland obliges my dream of calling Maurice Hurst and the Mississippi State pass rusher the new Heart Foundation reality.
Sweat running a record 4.41 40-yard dash for a defensive end at the NFL combine is an Al Davis specimen if there ever was one. He gives the Raiders a lanky and bendy outside rush to go along with the squat destroyer Oliver.
Previous: Chris Lindstrom, G, Boston College
No. 27: Nasir Adderley, S, Delaware
The Raiders coaching staff loved what they saw from the Blue Hen safety at the Senior Bowl and add a dynamic ball hawk to the secondary. While he’s not as punishing a tackler as other prospects, he can track and make plays on the ball, something that Paul Guenther-favorite safety Reggie Nelson was adept at doing.
Despite adding safeties Lamarcus Joyner and Curtis Riley in free agency, and re-upping Erik Harris, Oakland needs depth at the position and Adderley can be an early contributor and future long-term starter at safety.
No. 35: Rock Ya-Sin, CB, Temple
He’s got the body and the athleticism, but what’s missing for Ya-Sin is technique and seasoning. He’ll get both playing for the Raiders and he’ll join a new blood group of corners for Guenther and secondary coach Jim O’Neil.
He’s a fit for Guenther’s bail coverage and he’s aggressive and high points the ball with receivers. Ya-Sin does need to turn and locate the ball when he’s trailing a receiver and his long speed isn’t supreme, but he’s a chiseled and moldable prospect for a team that needs as many corners as it can get.
Previous: DeAndre Baker, CB, Georgia
No. 95: Jachai Polite, DE, Florida
Poor combine numbers and interviews are sinking this Gators draft projection. However, turn on the tape and you see an edge rusher with scintillating speed. It’s downright frightening how quickly he can turn the corner and get to a quarterback.
The issue, however, is what weight will he come in? He showed up heavy at the combine and the extra mass wreaked havoc on his workout numbers. Still, the Raiders pass rush was that impotent last season and Polite helps remedy that.
Previous: Zach Allen, DE, Boston College
No. 106: Andy Isabella, WR, Massachusetts
Gruden loves the Patriot Way and he dabbles in it here with the selection of Isabella, a diminutive but very shifty and elusive slot wideout. Isabella torched the 40 at the combine clocking in at 4.31 and you couple that speed with fearlessness and you’ve got a Gruden Grinder.
Isabella can come in and immediately compete for time at both the slot and outside as Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams headline the group. But behind them are J.J. Nelson and Ryan Grant – not inspiring names – at all.
Previous: Josh Oliver, TE, San Jose State
No. 140: Bryce Love, RB, Stanford
Gruden needs his homerun hitter at tailback and this Cardinal can most definitely answer the bell. He’s recovering from an ACL injury he suffered in his final collegiate game, but when Love is on his burst and long-speed are second to none.
The fifth-round flier is perfect for Love as he’ll get a chance to recover properly and learn behind Isaiah Crowell, Jalen Richard, DeAndre Washington and Chris Warren III.
Previous: Kahale Warring, TE, San Diego State
No. 180: Hjalte Froholdt, G, Arkansas
He’s got the size and strength to stymie interior rushers, just don’t have him play further out than guard or center. The Raiders have concern at the guard spot outside of Gabe Jackson and Froholdt has more than enough to compete for a role. He can take the mantle of the Fat Klay Thompson role owned by versatile Jon Feliciano.
No. 218: Derick Roberson, DE, Sam Houston State
Gruden digs into the Sam Houston well once more taking Roberson after he racked up 15 sacks and five forced fumbles this past season. Roberson’s production bloomed in 2018 despite no longer having interior wrecking ball P.J. Hall (taken by Oakland in the second round of the 2018 draft). Roberson’s got a light pass rush tool box, but he has speed and a non-stop motor.
Previous: Keesean Johnson, WR, Fresno State
No. 235: Donald Parham, TE, Stetson
The ultimate project at the position, the 6-foot-8 Parham played more on the outside as a big receiver than tight end. But he’s got the frame to put on the requisite NFL mass and is going to be a nightmarish target with his height, speed and hands. Why a tight end so late? The Raiders believe in Darren Waller and have a stocked room with Lee Smith, Derek Carrier and Luke Wilson in tow.
Previous: Derick Roberson, DE, Sam Houston State