When it comes to unexpected picks in the NFL Draft, there are 31 teams and then, there’s the Las Vegas Raiders. The Silver and Black have previously shown they aren’t afraid to go against conventional wisdom. Thus, it wouldn’t be surprising to see them take Virginia Tech cornerback Caleb Farley 17th overall in the selection meeting.
Analyst Mike Tanier of Pro Football Network projects the Raiders will take Farley in the first round. He points out head coach Jon Gruden has a penchant for taking an unconventional route. Also, the Virginia Tech standout is the kind of athlete he craves, tall, and physical. In the end, Tanier believes taking Farley will be either a “stroke of genius” or just another name on the Injury Reserve list.
Had Farley not undergone back surgery last March, he would have most likely been the first cornerback off the board in the draft. Then again, he told Peter King of NBC Sports NFL doctors have cleared him for the 2021 season. A two-year starter for the Hokies, the corner logged 19 passes defensed and six interceptions in 23 games. The Raiders’ secondary could certainly use his top-end speed and his ability to blanket opposing wide receivers.
Drafting Caleb Farley wouldn’t be out of character for the Raiders
Tanier isn’t wrong, when it comes to the Raiders, there’s no in-between. Since Gruden took over, the team has constantly swung for the fences, drafting players such as safety Johnathan Abram and running back Josh Jacobs. Last year alone, they took wide receiver Henry Ruggs III and cornerback Damon Arnette. While both have the potential to play at a high level in the NFL, they underperformed in 2020. The same is true for Clelin Ferrell, who was a solid player coming out of Clemson but hasn’t been the difference-maker Las Vegas expected when they made him the fourth overall selection in 2019.
You could argue that the Raiders don’t need a cornerback after using a first and second-round selection on the position the last two years. However, Arnette struggled with making the transition from college and dealt with injuries last season while Trayvon Mullen was solid yet unspectacular in his sophomore campaign. Also, there’s not much depth behind the pair. They just signed Rasul Douglas and have a couple of young corners in Isaiah Johnson and Keisean Nixon. Nevertheless, neither of them has shown enough to feel comfortable with the current group. For that reason, drafting Farley 17th overall wouldn’t be that surprising.
The Raiders need to upgrade a defense that finished near the bottom of most meaningful categories in 2020. Adding an EDGE defender or a safety should be at the top of their draft list. On the other hand, fortifying their cornerback room wouldn’t be a bad idea either.
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