The Las Vegas Raiders made major changes to their roster this offseason. While they were able to bring in pass rush extraordinaire Yannick Ngakoue, the bigger news surrounded the players they lost. Key cogs such as wide receiver Nelson Agholor signed with the New England Patriots, while others such as Rodney Hudson and Gabe Jackson left via trade. Filling these holes while also adding to the defensive side of the ball will be paramount in the 2021 NFL Draft. So without further ado, here are some thoughts on how the Silver and Black should approach the selection meeting.
Editors note: This mock was done using The Draft Network’s Mock Draft Simulator. It is a reflection of the decisions Jason would make, not a guess at what the Raiders might do.
Will the Las Vegas Raiders prioritize the offense early in the draft?
Round 1, Pick 17: Greg Newsome II, CB, Northwestern
A trendy name in the 2021 class, Greg Newsome II is an alpha on the defensive side of the ball. A cornerback who excels in playing the deep third, He would be a great fit in Gus Bradley’s defense. The Northwestern product also has the physicality the Raiders love from their defensive backs. A player with endless confidence, Newsome would change the whole dynamic of the Las Vegas defense. Would Mike Gruden and Jon Mayock select another first-round corner? It’s doubtful. Should they if Newsome is available? Yes.
Round 2, Pick 48: Creed Humphrey, C, Oklahoma
After trading longtime pivot man Rodney Hudson, the Raiders are tasked with replacing one of the best in the business. Humphrey, a 37-game starter at Oklahoma, would be a potential candidate. While Mayock and Gruden are sure to love his experience, he has the ability to be a starter in the league for a long time.
Round 3, Pick 79: Dyami Brown, WR, North Carolina
While the Raiders were able to add fellow wide receiver John Brown, he is not getting any younger and they could use a long-term answer when he leaves. Dyami Brown is a player who actually compares favorably to Nelly as he is a lethal downfield threat. Tremendous at stacking defensive backs down the field, he is a highlight reel waiting to happen. He could easily step right into Gruden’s offense, the Raiders would be wise to select the North Carolina product in the third round.
Round 3, Pick 80: Walker Little, OT, Stanford
One of the more interesting evaluations in 2021’s draft, Walker Little’s 2019 season was cut short due to injury and didn’t play at all last year, choosing to opt out. However, he was considered one of the top prospects at the position after the 2018 season. The Stanford product excels in his pass set as he is a fantastic athlete giving him the ability to match all the defenders he will see on the edge. At 6’7″ and 310 pounds, he certainly looks the part. He is an offensive tackle who should develop into a starter and would be of great value in the third round for the Silver and Black.
Round 4, Pick 121: Patrick Jones II, EDGE, Pittsburgh
Patrick Jones II has a few things going for him. A high effort pass rusher, he is still a work in progress as he moves to the NFL. However, He could slot in as a situational pass rusher instantly while he develops at the pro level.
Round 5, Pick 162: Caden Sterns, S, Texas
While selecting a safety before the fifth round would be optimal, the board did not lend itself to that idea. The consolation here is Texas safety Caden Sterns. A 26-game starter, Sterns showcases great deep coverage ability with the capability to develop into a starting-caliber player in a center field role. Nevertheless, there’s a reason why he’s available in the fifth, he can’t tackle well. While he will have to become a more physical player, the Texas product is a worthy fifth-round flier.
Round 5, Pick 167: Cornell Powell, WR (Clemson)
The requisite Clemson pick in Raiders’ mock drafts, Cornell Powell is another fantastic deep threat. Following up the Dyami Brown pick with Powell may feel redundant but you can’t have too many playmakers. A senior who posted 882 yards and seven touchdowns in his final season, Las Vegas will like his talent.
Are you kidding?!?
— Clemson Football (@ClemsonFB) November 28, 2020
Round 6, Pick 200: Tay Gowan, CB (UCF)
Gowan is nowhere close to an NFL starting corner as he simply does not have the athletic ability. He is a physical player however who projects nicely as a special teamer and depth player. Getting a special-team stalwart at 200 is always a valuable move.
While this mock does not solve all of the Raiders’ holes, namely safety, it is a step in the right direction. Players like Greg Newsome should rank very highly on the Raiders board as they represent a potential culture change on that side of the ball. While Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock have been chasing a culture change for years, this is the year to fulfill it.
You May Also Like: Las Vegas Raiders FA: Signing CB Brian Poole Addresses Need for CB
TOP PHOTO: Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images