Raiders/Mock Draft/NFL Draft

Raiders 3-Round Mock Draft: QB Of The Future, Reloading The Defense

It’s been a tumultuous few days for the Las Vegas Raiders. A shared optimism within Raider Nation that was clinging to playoff hopes has disappeared. Now, we find that many fans are moving on from this season already. The truth is, can you blame them? Some are already looking forward to the NFL Draft next April; that’s how bad things have gotten.

The struggles of quarterback Derek Carr combined with the team’s inability to put opponents away have left the Raiders on the outside looking in. What’s even worse is that now you have a collective trend among Raiders beat writers indicating that this might be the end for Carr. If the team’s power duo (Josh McDaniels and Dave Ziegler) is looking to move on from Carr, drafting a quarterback makes all the sense in the world. Interestingly enough, they might end up having some intriguing prospects available next year. Even so, the defense still needs a lot of reinforcements as well. Which route will the Raiders take? Let’s examine one of the many three-round mock draft scenarios that we’ll be coming up with between now and April.

Raiders 3-Round Mock Draft: Ziegler, McDaniels Draft A QB, Rebuild The Defense

Round 1 – C.J. Stroud, Quarterback, Ohio State

  • Measurables: 6’3″, 218 pounds
  • Notable Stats: 81 career passing touchdowns, back-to-back Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year (2021-22)

Many Raiders fans are opposed to their team drafting a Buckeyes quarterback. However, if we’re talking about taking the best player available with the ninth selection, Stroud has to be the pick. Keep in mind that both Bryce Young and Will Levis will be the other two quarterbacks off the board by then. Also, Jalen Carter, Cam Smith, and Myles Murphy could also be gone by that point. Interestingly enough, it’s hard to imagine a scenario where the Raiders start a rookie quarterback in 2023. If that’s the case, have Stroud sit for one year and start a veteran in his stead, Tom Brady, perhaps?

Sporting an impressive 84.9 passing grade per Pro Football Focus, Stroud proved to be a natural leader at Ohio State. He possesses notable zip in his passes combined with solid ball placement on his quick slants, so there’s that. On top of that, Stroud can also attack opposing defenses vertically with a nice touch on post-corner routes. He has more than sufficient arm strength that translates at the next level. Stroud is able to deliver the ball into those tight windows up to distances of 20 yards or more. In college, he was able to spread the ball around, hitting his targets all over the field. That’s something that’ll come in handy considering all of the Raiders’ receiving weapons. He’s the athletic, balanced pocket passer that McDaniels can mold to his liking.

Round 2 – Siaki Ika, IDL, Baylor

  • Measurables: 6’4″, 358 pounds
  • Notable Stats: 10.5 tackles for a loss, three pass deflections

The Raiders need to find a defensive tackle to help rebuild their defensive line’s interior at the next NFL draft. It’s no coincidence that most mock drafts have Ziegler selecting one at some point, typically within the first three rounds. Well, this is where I present Siaki Ika from Baylor as one possibility.

The edges on the outside are in good shape right now; what the Raiders lack is an interior presence. With his imposing size and frame combined with some remarkable athleticism for someone of that magnitude, Ika would be a nice addition. While his stats weren’t eye-catching, Ika makes up for it in raw qualities, including notable strength, speed, and flashes of remarkable quickness for his size. With the right coaching and direction, Ika could be become the nose tackle of the future for the Raiders. He’ll end up clogging running lanes as a behemoth space eater, but he’ll also get into the backfield and disrupt the passing game. This is a true high-risk, high-reward prospect should the Raiders look to him at the NFL draft.

Round 3 – Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson, Cornerback, TCU

  • Measurables: 5’9″, 180 pounds
  • Notable Stats: 5 career interceptions, 32 career pass deflections, 2022 Jim Thorpe Award

Arguably one of the best defensive back prospects at next year’s NFL draft will be TCU’s Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson. The Raiders will be looking to reshape their cornerback group; they were in many ways a disappointing unit. Nate Hobbs is still a promising player but needs to go back to the nickel slot. Meanwhile, Rock Ya-Sin’s future after this season is unknown. The rest of the group was largely forgettable. The benefit of drafting Hodges-Tomlinson in this mock draft scenario is that the Raiders pick up an instant starting corner. He can be lined up on the outside and possesses more than enough speed and quickness to cover any receiver.

Also, since the Raiders prefer to have their corners play man, press coverage, Hodges-Tomlinson will fit that mold. He has himself a remarkable motor despite his size and consistently showed off in college his ability to pursue receivers and deliver the finishing blow. His combination of speed, pursuit, and play recognition and awareness could make him a viable threat in pass rushing; PFF graded him at 91.8 in that department. It makes too much sense for the Raiders to draft this coveted cornerback next year.

Raiders 7-Round Mock Draft: Offensive Line Help, Defensive Overhaul, and a Potential Derek Carr Replacement

*Top Photo: AP Photo/Jay LaPrete

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