The Las Vegas Raiders will have an opportunity to retool the roster via the 2023 NFL Draft. In this 7-round mock draft, the franchise welcomes fresh faces on both sides of the ball and even finds a potential Derek Carr replacement.
Josh McDaniels, a long-time Bill Belichick understudy, just defeated his mentor in exhilarating fashion. After charging out to a 17-3 halftime lead, it looked like the Raiders were headed toward another embarrassing collapse Sunday afternoon. Alas, Chandler Jones snatched victory from the jaws of defeat on the final play of the game.
The Raiders sit at No. 11 overall after this weekend’s action. A path to the playoffs is technically still alive, but it will take some outside help. Currently, the Raiders rank toward the bottom in many pass-defense statistics. The offensive line, to its credit, has held up well on paper, but upgrades are necessary for multiple spots. Looking at a list of impending free agents, the skill positions could take some major hits this offseason, too.
The elephant in the room lines up behind center. Derek Carr’s name has circulated over the past couple of weeks. Carr is on pace for his lowest completion percentage since 2015 and the most interceptions in his career. General manager Dave Ziegler can move on from Derek Carr if he wishes, as the 31-year-old signal-caller can be cut (or traded) in a few months for less than $6 million in dead cap.
Whether or not the Raiders opt to make such a move, it would be wise for the new regime to consider all possibilities in the 2023 NFL Draft. When you pick inside the top ten, everything should be on the table. The draft order from this article is set by Tankathon. Conditional picks and compensation picks are not yet finalized, so the placement of late-round selections is subject to change. With that out of the way, let’s get things going!
Raiders 7-Round Mock Draft: Las Vegas Uses NFL Draft to Retool Roster
Round 1, Pick 11: Paris Johnson Jr., OL, Ohio State
Weight: 310 pounds
Career Stats: 13 starts at right guard; 12 starts at left tackle; Only allowed 1 sack in 2021 & 2022 combined
If you only judge the counting numbers, it would be easy to mistake the Raiders’ offensive line as serviceable. The harsh reality is that the unit falls well below that standard. Kolton Miller is a standout, but the rest of the group is largely unproven. Rookies Dylan Parham and Thayer Munford have shown glimpses of being contributors for the future, but both have work to do to stick around in the league.
Paris Johnson Jr. would bolster the offensive line instantly. The experience at guard and tackle will allow Josh McDaniels to deploy the Buckeye superstar however he sees fit. The best move would be slotting Johnson Jr. in at right tackle to bookend the line with Kolton Miller. The 21-year-old is elite as a pass protector and has the physical traits to excel as a bulldozing run blocker. The Raiders desperately need stability on the offensive line; Paris Johnson Jr. brings that stability as a first-round NFL Draft prospect.
Round 2, Pick 46 – Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois
Weight: 180 pounds
Career Stats: 32 starts, 157 tackles (11.5 tackles for loss), 25 passes defended, 5 INTs
The secondary gets shredded on a weekly basis, and the defense will never be an above-average unit until it undergoes a massive overhaul. This movement started when the front office released former first-round pick, Johnathan Abram. The cupboard is not bare when it comes to talent, though. Safety Trevon Moehrig has shown enough to continue starting in 2023. Nate Hobbs, a fifth-round pick in 2021, has carved out a role for himself as well.
Starting cornerback Rock Ya-Sin is scheduled to hit free agency at the end of the season. The Raiders will likely extend an offer to their newly-acquired defender but drafting Devon Witherspoon would give the team a physically imposing duo on the boundary. Witherspoon plays 100 mph at all times. He dishes out monster hits, jams receivers off the snap, and disrupts passing lanes with ease. The Illini alum needs to sharpen up his zone coverage skills to maximize his potential in the Patrick Graham scheme, but he has all the tools to do so.
Round 3, Pick 77 – Gervon Dexter, DL, Florida
Weight: 312 pounds
Career Stats: 23 Starts, 125 tackles (10.5 for loss), 5 sacks, 2 INTs
There is a lot to like about Florida defensive lineman Gervon Dexter. First, he is a massive human being that moves incredibly well. Dexter uses this deceptive athleticism to burst off the snap and create havoc for the opposing offensive line. He clears the way for the pass rushers to get home by eating up the interior and can cover multiple gaps on run plays.
The Raiders’ run defense has been the bright spot of the unit, which sadly is not saying much considering how abysmal the secondary is. Still, Patrick Graham’s group is allowing the seventh-fewest rushing yards on the year. Gervon Dexter can provide immediate competition for Bilal Powell at the 3-Tech. Powell has played well of late and is under contract through 2023, but Dexter profiles as a long-term upgrade at defensive tackle. Las Vegas gets a locker room leader with its final day two pick of this mock draft.
Round 4, Pick 114 – Joe Tippmann, OL, Wisconsin
Weight: 317 pounds
Career Stats: 22 starts at center; 1 sack allowed in 625 pass-blocking snaps
Adding an offensive tackle is not enough to solve the issues on the line. The Raiders must add another starting-caliber option in the 2023 NFL Draft, and Joe Tippmann is the ideal fit. Since 2000, Wisconsin has sent 23 offensive linemen to the NFL Draft, and Tippmann is next in line. The Wisconsin starting center over the past two seasons is one of the freakiest athletes in the draft class. Because of this, Tippmann brings positional versatility to the NFL. With Las Vegas, he can stay in his natural position at center and help protect whoever he snaps the ball to. Expect Tippmann to go higher than he does in this mock draft if the Pro Day goes well.
Round 5, Pick 145 – Charlie Jones, WR, Purdue
Weight: 188 pounds
2022 Key Stats: 110 receptions, 1,361 receiving yards, 12 touchdowns
Charlie Jones was made for the Josh McDaniels offense. The 2022 breakout star for Purdue eclipsed 100 catches on the season, showcasing his ability to move the chains. Surprisingly, despite his slight frame, Jones is fearless when catching the ball in traffic. The most impressive part of Jones’ game is his constant ability to shake defenders and get open downfield. I affectionately call the Boilermaker pass catcher Charlie â€œAlways Open” Jones. The Raiders get a steal in this mock draft, and it would not be a shock to see Jones become the No. 2 option in the passing game as a rookie.
Round 5, Pick 147 – Owen Pappoe, LB, Auburn
Weight: 226 pounds
Career Stats: 41 starts, 256 tackles (15 tackles for loss), 8 sacks, 7 passes defended, 2 INTs
Owen Pappoe is a savvy, instinctual linebacker that can provide a variety of services for the defense. He displays high football IQ when diagnosing the backfield, and reacts quickly when he identifies their formation. Pappoe can be too eager to make a tackle at times, but that aggressiveness is something the middle of the defense currently lacks. Some missed tackles are bound to happen, but Pappoe can put up some crazy numbers in the middle of Patrick Graham’s defense. If Graham gets creative with play calling, Pappoe can even add pass rushing off the edge.
Round 5, Pick 171 – Jake Haener, QB, Fresno State
Weight: 195 pounds
2021-22 Key Stats:
2021- 67.1%, 4,096 passing yards, 33 TDs
2022- 72%, 2,896 passing yards, 20 TDs (injury)
At some point, the Raiders must take a look at their future at quarterback. Following the win against the Patriots, Las Vegas finds itself out of range for one of the top signal-callers in the 2023 NFL Draft. Fresno State’s Jake Haener is a phenomenal value on day three and has the makings of a starter in the NFL with proper coaching and development.
Say what you will about Josh McDaniels, but he knows how to milk the most out of his offensive players. Haener is not built like a prototypical quarterback, nor does he throw the ball like one. His form and technique are borderline unwatchable at times, but the arm talent is legit, and Haener is a special kind of leader in the locker room. From one Fresno State quarterback to another? The answer is yes if this mock draft comes to fruition.
Round 6, Pick 190 – RJ Moten, S, Michigan
Weight: 221 pounds
Career Stats: 15 starts, 66 tackles, 4 passes defended, 2 INTs
Trevon Moehrig oozes upside at the free safety position, but the Raiders have failed to get consistent play from the TCU alum. Even if Moehrig realizes his potential, the defense needs a thumper in the box to even things out. RJ Moten is just what the doctor ordered. At 6′, 221 pounds, Moten could be confused for a new-age linebacker. With Michigan, Moten terrorized ball carriers from the back end of the secondary. The Wolverine starting safety is never shy to lower his shoulder and use the hit stick. Moehrig’s range can hopefully give Moten the freedom to roam the upper third of the defense.
Round 6, Pick 202 – Josh Whyle, TE, Cincinnati
Weight: 235 pounds
Career Stats: 88 receptions, 1,062 receiving yards, 15 TDs
Darren Waller’s injury-marred 2022 season has soured his standing within Raider Nation. Assuming Waller can remain healthy and put out consistent effort, the top spot on the depth chart will remain his. Foster Moreau’s contract expires this offseason, which leaves a void behind Waller. Josh Whyle, a three-year starter at Cincinnati, is a bit undersized, but he is a superb athlete and has the potential to be a three-down player if his blocking technique is cleaned up.
Round 7, Pick 222 – Jayden Reed, WR/KR, Michigan State
Weight: 185 pounds
2022 Key Stats: 55 receptions, 636 receiving yards, 5 touchdowns; 3 career punt return TDs
Wrapping up this mock draft is a brand-new kick returner for the Raiders. After seeing guys with no business returning kicks/punts, it should be a priority for the front office to add capable hands to the special teams. Jayden Reed has returned 80 combined kicks/punts in his collegiate career and is an underrated pass catcher. Reed will earn a starting role on special teams early, and with his game-breaking speed, the Michigan State product could challenge for snaps at receiver.
*Top Photo: Barbara Perenic/Columbus Dispatch