Raiders NFL Mock Draft: Addressing the defense...

Raiders 3-Round NFL Mock Draft: Fixing The Defense, Addressing A New Need

The Las Vegas Raiders got their quarterback in Jimmy Garoppolo, so whether they’ll invest a first-round pick on the position remains to be seen. What we don’t know is that the defense has some major holes. Even more so following a rather conversative, “disciplined” free agency period. Luckily for general manager Dave Ziegler, this upcoming draft class is loaded on defense. Oh, and in case you missed the news, the Raiders now have a need at tight end as well. That, too, can be remedied next month. Let’s see how this regime could possibly begin laying the foundation for years to come next April.

Raiders 3-Round NFL Mock Draft: Dave Ziegler gets Maxx Crosby some help…

Rd. 1: Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech

While some see Wilson as a better fit inside, that’d be just as fine with the Raiders considering their overall lack of a pass rush. The fact is, Crosby needs help; he’s entering his prime, and it would be a shame if his talents went to waste because of incompetence. Picking up Wilson gives the Raiders one of the most potent pass rushers in this class. His Pro Football Focus grade of 79.9 in that department is impressive. Wilson’s physical stature (nearly 6’6″ and 271 pounds) combined with an imposing frame give him a solid physical foundation.

Wilson showed a nice, consistent streak in college in terms of productivity: 14 sacks and 17.5 tackles for a loss. Coming into the NFL, Wilson already possesses many of the tools required to make an immediate impact as an every-down player. He’s a remarkable mix of speed, size, athleticism, and length. Look for him to use his strength to shed blockers right out of the gate. The Raiders desperately need someone to take some of the focus off of Crosby, and Wilson will do just that.

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Rd. 2: Emmanuel Forbes, DB, Mississippi State

Forbes had a solid outing at the NFL Combine, posting a 4.35 time in his 40-yard dash. On top of that, Forbes recorded a 37.5″ vertical as well. The Raiders need to reload their defensive backfield. Nate Hobbs and Trevon Moehrig still figure to be starters next season, but the rest of the backfield has some serious question marks. Even if Rock Ya-Sin returns, the Raiders still need to draft a cornerback, and in the second round, Forbes would be a steal.

Forbes, who boasted one of the best coverage grades according to PFF at 89.3, was absolutely lethal in pass defense. He amassed 10 pass deflections in 2022, along with six interceptions, returning three of them for touchdowns. It should be noted that Forbes was No. 1 in the SEC for interceptions in 2022 and 2020, respectively. He’s a playmaker, plain and simple. Last time we checked, the Raiders needed plenty of those.

Rd. 3: Sam LaPorta, TE, Iowa

We can sit here and debate the reasons why Waller was truly traded, but what can’t be debated is that the Raiders created a new need for themselves. Even prior to the news, it could’ve been said that the Raiders needed to take at least one of the tight ends from this draft class. Simply put, it’s loaded at that position. Considering the defensive needs, adding LaPorta in the third round is a nice addition.

According to some scouts, LaPorta is the sixth-best tight end in this group. He’s recorded 153 receptions since 2019 along with five touchdowns to his name. While not the greatest at pass-blocking, LaPorta could improve with coaching from Josh McDaniels and Co. He possesses some of the best route-running skills of anyone in this class. Athletically gifted, LaPorta can use his mix of length, size, and speed to be a mismatch for NFL defenses. The Raiders need to add a reliable pass-catcher at tight end for the future, and LaPorta is just that.

*Top Photo: 247 Sports

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