The Las Vegas Raiders have had an up and down season in 2021 and unfortunately, they still have many holes to plug. With two of their six picks at the moment, they could address a few of those in this mock scenario,
As Raider Nation begins looking ahead to next year’s NFL Draft, they can rest easy knowing several positions are set. In particular, running back, wide receiver, and yes, quarterback are among those. The defense, on the other hand, still needs help and the offensive line found itself riddled with injuries all year.
So who do the Raiders take in the first two rounds?
Raiders head coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock still perform some draft day maneuvers. Even then, the Silver and Black can remedy some of those weaknesses with what they have. Let’s take a look at the Raider Ramble’s first two-round mock draft.
1st Round: Kwity Paye, EDGE, Michigan
The recurring theme for the past two years has been the lack of pass rush by the Raiders defense. Defensive end Maxx Crosby has emerged as the team’s most reliable edge rusher but much more is needed. Clelin Ferrell is coming into his own but the sack totals tell us a different story. Pressures and ‘near sacks’ are not enough, enter Kwity Paye by way of Michigan.
The six-foot-four, 277-pound, senior could instantly become a starter opposite of Crosby. A force in the pass-rushing game who has seen 140 snaps attacking opposing quarterbacks. Kyle Crabbs of The Draft Network loves his bull rush potential though there might be a concern when it comes to his ceiling as a rusher. The Raiders cannot afford to take another run defender with a first-round pick as they did with Ferrell. Crabbs points out Paye’s physical prowess will help him push around tackles at the NFL level.
According to Pro Football Focus, Paye has steadily improved each year. His overall grade trend since 2018 is as follows: 71.1, 80.9, and 86.3, respectively. PFF has given him an 87.1 pass-rush grade for 2020, he would be an excellent addition.
2nd round: Ben Cleveland, guard, Georgia
Many fans are quick to point that the offensive line has played well when you take several factors into consideration. First is the leadership of offensive line coach Tom Cable, who has done mostly a masterful job of keeping the unit going. Secondly, the Raiders offensive line has lost players at different points of the season for myriad reasons, but mostly due to injury. Trent Brown nearly died from an IV incident, Richie Incognito might be done as a Raider, Kolton Miller has also been injured. The interior of the offensive line would benefit tremendously from Ben Cleveland by way of Georgia.
Standing at 6-foot-6, the 341-pound senior could help continue protecting quarterback Derek Carr for years to come. Drae Harris of The Draft Network points out that Cleveland’s a physical striker in the run game, so the team could replace the mauler they’ve had in Incognito. At the same time, Harris believes that Cleveland’s vision and instincts will bode well in the passing game.
PFF is also high on Cleveland’s pass-blocking abilities, for the 2020 season, he’s earned an 88.2 grade. Another positive trend according to PFF is that Cleveland has averaged nearly an overall 76 grade in the last three seasons. There are still some intangibles to be figured out such as Incognito and Gabe Jackson’s future with the Raiders. However, Cleveland’s pass blocking talents should merit a look in the second round by Raiders brass.
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*Top Photo: Dan Honda/Bay Area News Group