2021 will be a draft unlike we’ve seen in our lifetimes due to the ongoing global pandemic. The combine has been totally altered and numerous prospects opted out before or during the 2020 season. The Las Vegas Raiders enters with a plethora of needs to cover and only six selections to do so.
Could the Raiders take a chance on Zaven Collins in round 1?
This is the most exciting time of the NFL cycle. With help from the Pro Football Focus Mock Draft Simulator, we did our best to solve the issues that plague the Silver and Black.
Spoiler Alert: It won’t be easy.
ROUND 1 PICK 17: TRADE!!!
Las Vegas receives picks 29, 92,
Green Bay receives picks 17, 159 and 199
This draft will be unusual from a scouting standpoint. Rather than going for more picks in later rounds, Las Vegas opts to snag an extra third-round selection and hope some more proven talent would slide. As for pick number 29…
Round 1, pick 29: Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa
The linebacker position has been a thorn in the side of the Raiders for ages. Even after spending big money on Nick Kwiatkoski and Cory Littleton, taking Zaven Collins at 29 doesn’t seem far-fetched. Drafting the Tusla standout in the teens feels too rich but he would be a steal late in the first round.
The Raiders need to improve at every level of the defense and Collins could help them. At 6-foot-4 and 260 pounds, he’s more than capable of stopping the run and rushing the passer but also has the athleticism to thrive in pass coverage. He could easily be the defensive cornerstone this unit has desperately needed, someone that just makes plays.
Round 2, pick 49: Jevon Holland S, Oregon
The first two selections fit a mold; quality athletes that can excel all over the field while filling big needs for Las Vegas. Holland is everything the Raiders’ brass thought they were getting with Lamarcus Joyner. The Oregon product can not only handle the role of safety but can also thrive in the slot if necessary for man coverage. He is the type of swiss army knife defensive coordinator Gus Bradley would love to have on Sundays and the confident high character leader the team gravitates towards.
What about their middle-round picks?
Round 3, pick 80: Marlon Tuipulotu, DT, USC
It’s insane to think the Raiders would even consider drafting a defensive tackle after the otherworldly season Maliek ‘Key to the defense‘ Collins had, but here we are. Marlon Tuipulotu is becoming a hot name as draft season approaches and it is not hyperbole.
In a league where collapsing the pocket from the interior can be paramount for defenses, Tuipolotu uses a high motor, great strength, and solid technique to get after the quarterback. He didn’t just push the pocket at Southern California, he also held his own against the run. To some, this may seem like a reach now, but it won’t be as we get closer to May.
Round 3, pick 92: Deonte Brown G, Alabama
You didn’t think Tom Cable would allow the Silver and Black to go another round without selecting a new toy for the O-Line did ya?! *Bangs Table*
But seriously, if the Raiders aren’t careful, one of their greatest strengths could become a big weakness. Despite a commitment to the run schematically, injuries in the trenches saw the normally gaping doorways on the ground slammed shut. What better way to fulfill Mike Mayock’s love of Bama/Clemson prospects by taking a strong, violent masher at guard.
While Deonte Brown wouldn’t be an immediate starter and has his shortcomings in the pass blocking game, he has all the tools necessary to be the next Gabe Jackson, forcing open alleys for Josh Jacobs in the seasons to come.
And speaking of the run game…
The Raiders add help late in the draft
Round 4, pick 118: Kylin Hill, RB, Mississippi State
This was a value that couldn’t be passed up. Devonte Booker was a quality backup but could move on for greener pastures in 2021. Kylin Hill wouldn’t just be a “spell back”, he would allow Jon Gruden to have two top tier backs at his disposal.
A true dual-threat that rarely avoids contact, Hill is more than capable of taking a large load away from Josh Jacobs, which would make the Raider offense that much more dynamic. This wouldn’t please very many Jacobs’ dynasty owners, but ‘Chucky’ would be over the moon with the possibilities.
ROUND 5, pick 158: Israel Mukuamu CB, South Carolina
This might not be the South Carolina cornerback some fans are hoping to land, but Israel Mukuamu makes sense in the fifth round. At 6-foot-4, the Gamecocks cornerback is long, aggressive, and extremely competitive. He checks the boxes that many corners normally fail at, run support and tackling in the space.
Due to his size, many teams may opt to move Mukuamu to safety. Once again, versatility is the name of the game in today’s league. This late in a draft you look for standout traits that you hope to build upon. New defensive backs coach Ron Milus has a few new pieces to add to the puzzle.
Position Omission: Wide receiver
The Raiders would be better served chasing a large ticket free-agent target (Allen Robinson II) or relying on familiar names (Bryan Edwards and Nelson Agholor) to solve their wide receiver woes. Gruden may get antsy in later rounds, but let’s hope logic prevails…
Spoiler: It Won’t.
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