The 2021 NFL Draft is going to be crucial for the Raiders just like any other team. What makes this one especially dire though is that this will be Jon Gruden’s fourth draft in his second stint. The head coach has certainly lost some faith with questionable reaches in every draft since his return. On the bright side, there are several Oregon prospects who can help make a difference.
Offensive tackle Penei Sewell seems like a perfect fit with his talent and the Raiders need at the offensive line. Unfortunately, his draft stock is way too high to fall all the way to 17 and the Raiders don’t have the ammo to trade up, so he will not be on this list. However, there are still a few other former Ducks that certainly deserve Vegas’ attention throughout the draft.
Here are three Oregon Ducks worth a look in the draft
Jevon Holland, safety
Despite opting out of the 2020 season, Jevon Holland is a quality target for the Raiders. The fact that Las Vegas still needs a lot of help in the secondary proves his worth even more. Holland already shows that he’s got a good nose for the ball with nine interceptions from 2018 to 2019.Â He also has great instincts against the run. His versatility helped earn him second-team honors in the Pac-12.
Most mock drafts have Holland going in the second or third round, which puts him in a good range for the Raiders as long as they don’t reach for him in the first, which wouldn’t be very surprising. With Gus Bradley at the helm for the defense, the sky’s the limit for the Oregon product since his scheme isn’t as complex as the previous defensive coordinator’s and has already proven to be effective on other teams. It wouldn’t be known immediately if he will get much starting time in his rookie season but it certainly shouldn’t be ruled out.
Deommodore Lenoir, cornerback
The secondary can’t be fixed by one player. In four years, Lenoir logged six interceptions and 21 passes defensed. He’s got quality speed and rarely misses tackles, which fits a heavy need for the Raiders. Depending on Las Vegas’ faith in Amik Robertson, Lenoir can be a good fit at nickel. Nevin Lawson, who has played the slot since the middle of 2019, will be serving a one-game suspension to start the season. The Raiders should honestly consider cutting Lawson and make room for younger players either way.
Things aren’t perfect for Lenoir though. He is only 5’11”, which is still taller than former Raider Lamarcus Joyner but still underwhelming. He also struggles a lot when it comes to playing press coverage. Gus Bradley likes to use the bump and run often, so they might have to work something out there for him. Several mocks have Lenoir getting drafted in the third or fourth round. An outside factor to decide where they go with cornerback lies with how they feel about Casey Hayward, who the team has had an eye on lately.
Thomas Graham Jr, cornerback
It seems rather obvious by now that Oregon has plenty of defensive back talent in this draft. Thomas Graham extends this list with eight picks and a whopping 32 passes deflections in just three years. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have the same athleticism as Lenoir and has a penchant for having late reactions on inside route cuts. He tends to play more off the line and prefers playing zone.
Graham seems to be a player the Raiders should mainly have an eye on if they aren’t satisfied with their defensive picks or miss out on other targets by the time they reach the middle to late rounds. Despite the flaws, his skills on the ball are something that cannot be underestimated and something the Raiders desperately need if they want to be taken seriously on defense.
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