Raider Nation, let’s all take a collective breath and regroup after an insane start to the offseason. Okay, better now? No? Well, take another breath and scroll through our latest 7-round Raiders mock draft; I’ll try to fix things!
The Raiders agreed to terms with polarizing signal-caller Jimmy Garoppolo, inking him to a team-friendly deal Monday. Perhaps this isn’t the big swing many fans envisioned after the franchise moved on from Derek Carr earlier in the offseason. But I would argue Jimmy G is the ideal quarterback for this stage of the roster-building phase.
He is a steady hand behind center, and his ties with Josh McDaniels and Dave Ziegler made this a sensible pairing all along. Signing Garoppolo will not stop the Raiders from drafting a quarterback, but a trade-up for one likely is off the table now.
The next domino to fall was Darren Waller’s trade to the Giants. Waller burst into stardom with the Raiders in 2019 and 2020, but he has failed to stay on the field consistently since then. With a rumored off-the-field riff between Waller and McDaniels, Vegas chose to send away the star tight end and recoup a draft pick for him.
No. 100 overall feels like a steal for a player of Waller’s caliber, but we must remember his injury history and the fact he is approaching age 31. The 2023 NFL Draft class is stacked at tight end, but the Raiders may have to target one earlier than expected to find a proper Waller replacement.
Jakobi Meyers, Marcus Epps, and Robert Spillane are far from the sexy names on the free agent market, but all three will log valuable snaps for the Raiders in 2023. Still, Vegas is undergoing a complete overhaul of personnel, so the draft is crucial to successfully pull off this switch-up.
Raiders 7-Round Mock Draft: Vegas Trades Down… Then Trades Up!
It is clear the Raiders are shifting to the Patriot Way. The free agency approach screams New England, and I expect the NFL Draft to lean into this, too. Rather than trade up the board on day one, the likelihood of Vegas trading down and accumulating more picks on day two increases by the minute.
In our free agency edition mock draft, the Raiders take this route. Keep in mind, being conservative on day one allows the team to be more aggressive on days two and three. We will get this mock started with a trade-down, but the scales are balanced out with a trade-up soon after! Without further ado, let’s get this thing rolling.
•No. 7 Overall (1st)
•No. 141 Overall (5th)
•No. 11 Overall (1st)
•No. 41 Overall (2nd)
The Raiders could stay put at No. 7 and take the best player available, but the Titans see Will Levis falling down the board and make the jump to secure him. Vegas moves down four spots on day one and flips a fifth for a second, adding ammo for the front office to operate on day two.
Round 1, No. 11 (via TEN): Calijah Kancey, DL, Pittsburgh
Weight: 281 pounds
Role as Rookie: Starting DT
Notable Stat: 17 sacks since the start of 2021
The Raiders will consider Calijah Kancey at No. 7 if they do not trade down, but luckily, the Pitt star is still on the board at 11. Kancey is a polished pass rusher and displayed otherworldly athleticism at the NFL Combine.
He is a tad undersized, but his versatility as an inside-out threat is right up Patrick Graham’s alley. The front seven would add a potential superstar if this pick comes to fruition.
•No. 32 Overall (2nd)
•No. 38 Overall (2nd)
•No. 109 Overall (4th)
•No. 174 Overall (5th)
Another trade? Yep! This time the Raiders get aggressive and trade up to the first pick of the second round. At No. 32 overall, Vegas selects a cornerback capable of leading the secondary into the future. And it only costs a couple of day three picks to make it happen.
Round 2, No. 32 (via PIT): Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina
Weight: 180 pounds
Role as Rookie: Starting CB
Notable Stat: 6 career INTs; 16 pass break-ups
Cam Smith is slim, but his tenacity makes up for any shortcomings in his frame. The South Carolina ballhawk has a nose for the football and is as confident as they come. At cornerback, that swagger is necessary to hold up vs. WR1s in the NFL.
Smith gives Patrick Graham a pillar for the cornerback room. He holds the locker room accountable and will challenge his teammates to get better every day in practice. Get your popcorn ready for the Cam Smith vs. Davante Adams battles.
Round 2, No. 41 (via TEN): Jack Campbell, LB, Iowa
Height: 6-foot-4 5/8
Weight: 249 pounds
Role as Rookie: Starting MIKE LB
Notable Stat: 5 career INTs; 107 stops in 2021+2022
Thanks to the trade with Tennessee earlier in the mock draft, the Raiders are in a position to select my highest-rated linebacker in the 2023 NFL Draft. Jack Campbell boasts prototypical size, superb range and instincts, and the leadership quality required for a MIKE linebacker role in the league.
Campbell is a starter from the jump. His 92.9 PFF coverage grade ranked highest among all qualified linebackers in 2022. The Raiders need this boost in the worst way, and Campbell also serves as a top-end run stuffer, effectively killing two birds with one stone (or draft pick).
Round 3, No. 70: Sam LaPorta, TE, Iowa
Height: 6-foot-3 1/4
Weight: 245 pounds
Role as Rookie: TE1 on the depth chart
Notable Stat: 53+ catches, 648+ yards each of past two seasons
Let’s go back to the Iowa well at No. 70 overall. Sam LaPorta profiles as a long-time starter in the NFL, following the well-established Hawkeye pipeline at tight end. He is a committed blocker and displays elite route running on tape. LaPorta also churns out yards after the catch, making him a perfect pairing with head coach Josh McDaniels.
Round 3, No. 100 (via NYG): Olusegun Oluwatimi, C, Michigan
Height: 6-foot-2 1/2
Weight: 309 pounds
Role as Rookie: Starting C
Notable Stat: Zero sacks allowed in 2022
After a concerted effort to beef up the defense earlier in the mock draft, a slight run on offensive players continues. Olu Oluwatimi is one of the best centers in a draft class full of starting-caliber centers. His anchor is the best in this class, and his burst off the snap is mesmerizing.
Andre James cannot start at center again in 2023, and Dylan Parham does not possess the lower-body strength that Oluwatimi has in spades. The Raiders gain an instant starter on the offensive line and more protection for new quarterback — Jimmy Garoppolo.
Round 5, No. 144 (via ATL): Jake Haener, QB, Fresno State
Weight: 207 pounds
Role as Rookie: Backup QB
Notable Stat: 71.3 completion percentage in 2022
Jake Haener is the most likely day three quarterback target for Vegas. He shows plenty of arm talent, owns a confident demeanor and is known as a prominent locker room leader. Haener can learn under the tutelage of McDaniels and Garoppolo until he is ready to take the reins as the starting signal-caller for the Raiders.
Round 6, No. 204 (via DAL): Mohamoud Diabate, LB, Utah
Weight: 222 pounds
Role as Rookie: Special teamer; situational pass rusher
Notable Stat: 83.9 pass-rush grade via PFF
Jack Campbell is polished and refined as a linebacker; Mohamoud Diabate is the polar opposite. The Utah star transferred to the Utes after playing sparingly for the Florida Gators from 2019-2021. Diabate made the most of his increased opportunity, recording seven sacks and 31 total stops on the season.
The Raiders would utilize Diabate on special teams early in his career, and Patrick Graham can design some fun blitz packages for the versatile linebacker. With patience, Diabate will grow into a surprise starter in the league. He is a worthwhile flyer this late in the mock draft.
Round 6, No. 214: Chandler Zavala, OL, NC State
Weight: 325 pounds
Role as Rookie: Depth; competition at guard
Notable Stat: Zero sacks allowed in NC State career
Chandler Zavala rivals Olu Oluwatimi for the best anchor in the interior offensive line group. He never is moved off his spot and is a bully in the run game. Zavala needs work on his hand usage and overall balance, but starting linemen can be found this late in the NFL Draft… don’t count him out.
Round 7, No. 220 (via ARI): Quindell Johnson, SAF, Memphis
Weight: 195 pounds
Role as Rookie: Depth; rotational safety
Notable Stat: Ten career INTs
Ideally, safety would have been addressed earlier in the mock draft. However, the value was not there, and the signing of Marcus Epps takes some stress off the safety need. Still, mixing in a prospect like Quindell Johnson is an intriguing possibility for Vegas.
Johnson possesses some of the best ball skills in the class, highlighted by his ten interceptions during his Memphis career. Johnson split time evenly in the slot, as a deep safety, and in the box, giving him the versatility to fit in as the third fiddle to Epps and Tre’von Moehrig.
Round 7, No. 231 (via NE): BJ Thompson, EDGE, Stephen F. Austin
Weight: 210 pounds
Role as Rookie: Special teamer; situational pass rusher
Notable Stat: 24 career sacks
Mohamoud Diabate is a pseudo-edge rusher, but the Raiders add a pure pass rusher with the final pick of the mock draft. BJ Thompson flexes one of the best spin moves in the 2023 NFL Draft and looks like a special team standout as a rookie. He can introduce more moves to his toolbox while learning from two of the best pass rushers in the NFL — Maxx Crosby and Chandler Jones.
*Top Photo: Mark Alberti/Icon Sports Wire via Getty Images