NFL Mock Draft: Raiders TE Darren Waller

Raiders 3-Round NFL Mock Draft: Finding A Replacement For Darren Waller

With NFL free agency in full swing, things are changing rapidly. Needless to say, any NFL mock draft worth its weight was probably thrown out after the last 48 hours. That’s especially true for the Las Vegas Raiders. Why is that, you ask? Well, the team now has a need at tight end following a trade that saw Darren Waller get shipped off. As you can see, it was a need that they didn’t have prior to the frenzy getting underway this week. So, now it’d make sense for the position to climb up the Raiders’ big board, though we can only assume.

As far as Waller’s replacement, the Raiders are actually quite lucky thanks to this upcoming class. In a class that’s stacked at the position, you have to assume that Josh McDaniels and Dave Ziegler are counting on one falling into their laps. Well, assume nothing with this regime, with all due respect. As far as the draft goes, there’s a plausible scenario where they can get not only one of the best defensive players but also a potential weapon for McDaniels’ offense.

Raiders NFL Mock Draft: How is free agency affecting the team’s strategy?

Rd. 1: Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon

The Raiders have missed out on some big names that would’ve upgraded the cornerback group. Whether it was not parting ways with draft capital for Jalen Ramsey or missing out on James Bradberry (again), there’s not much positive to say here. Assuming that Ziegler passes on Will Levis, who’s still available in this scenario, and there’s no trade down, Gonzalez has to be the pick. As our own Hunter Haas mentioned, “If available when the Raiders come to the podium, the pick should be Christian Gonzalez. Get Patrick Graham a difference-maker and a Bonafide CB1.”

Avoid a reach with Calijah Kancey that high at No. 7, instead, get yourself your future star cornerback.

Rd. 2: Luke Musgrave, TE, Oregon State

The worst-case scenario for the Raiders following the Darren Waller trade is that neither Michael Mayer nor Dalton Kincaid will be available to them in the second round. Sure, tight end is now a need, but you can’t use your first on it with the number of defensive playmakers available. However, picking up Musgrave in the second round is more justifiable. At six-foot-six and 253 pounds, Musgrave has the prototypical size and frame that McDaniels covets at tight end. Musgrave is a true natural athlete, exceeding at multiple college sports—the very definition of a “freak.”

Though still a raw blocker, the Raiders could assist with that by bringing in a veteran run blocker at the position while Musgrave develops further. His quickness and explosiveness will allow him to create separation, and he can also be a threat in the slot. He’ll look nice in a Raiders uniform when Jimmy Garoppolo throws him a short, quick pass and Musgrave takes it to the house. Don’t worry, folks, if there was ever a time to trade Darren Waller, at least it took place when there could be some replacements available through the draft.

Rd. 3: Karl Brooks, EDGE, Bowling Green

Ziegler has previously mentioned that the foundation for a successful defense starts with the defensive line. Well, drafting a lineman can go a long way toward finally getting Maxx Crosby some help. Brooks, the Bowling Green Falcon, is coming off a monster 2022 season. Brooks accumulated 10 sacks, 18 tackles for a loss, and four pass deflections. If Brooks falls to the third round, the Raiders would have themselves an absolute steal. Pro Football Focus awarded Brooks grades that were off-the-charts last season: 90.3 run defense and 92.0 pass rush grades, respectively. It certainly helps that Brooks is NFL-ready from a physical standpoint with a remarkable build, strength, and core. Considering he’d be a third rounder in this scenario, Patrick Graham would be getting himself a three-down player ready to make an impact.

*Top Photo: Sporting News

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