NFL Mock Draft: Raiders GM Dave Ziegler gets Patrick Graham a new defense

7-Round Raiders Mock Draft: GM Dave Ziegler (finally) gets Patrick Graham some help

The Las Vegas Raiders have had quite an interesting offseason so far. If nothing else, you have to admire that this current brass is doing things “their way.” With this approach, many fans are clearly tuning out. One look at social media shows that this “cheap” approach to NFL free agency has been a divisive topic. Regardless, one thing holds true: the defense under Patrick Graham in 2022 was atrocious. A lot of that comes down to a lack of talent at several key positions, which ironically, general manager Dave Ziegler has yet to address. Maybe, just maybe, he’s waiting for the NFL Draft, so here’s one mock draft scenario that might come to fruition: Ziegler goes defense, often and early.

Assuming there are no trades between now and the player selection meeting, Ziegler has a full cupboard from which he can completely rebuild the defense. Along the way, he’ll get Maxx Crosby some help, give Graham a foundation for his defensive backfield, and perhaps he’ll get the Raiders’ “quarterback of the future.”

7-Round Raiders Mock Draft: Defensive Reinforcements Dominate The Board

Rd. 1: Devon Witherspoon, DB, Illinois

The Raiders need to address the cornerback position at some point; why not in the first round? By the time the Raiders pick at No. 7, they could very well have a choice between Christian Gonzalez and Devon Witherspoon. In this scenario, Ziegler opts for the Illinois product. You could make the argument that the Raiders would be drafting the best press corner in this class with Witherspoon. With an astounding 14 pass deflections last season, Witherspoon is a playmaker, simply put. He possesses the perfect mix of tenacity, confidence, speed, intelligence, and quickness. He’ll be able to keep up with the fastest NFL receivers right from the outset.

Rd. 2: Adetomiwa Adebawore, EDGE, Northwestern

Ziegler has previously spoken about building the defensive line from within. That’s certainly an intelligent plan, and this is where Adetomiwa Adebawore comes in. Graham would be getting a versatile piece that put on a show at the NFL Combine this year. Somewhat undersized in terms of weight, this could easily be remedied at the training facility in Henderson, if we’re being honest. Coming into the pros, Adebawore already has some remarkable strength and explodes off of his stance. With Crosby and Chandler Jones as your starters on the edge, Graham could bring Adebawore around as a rotational rusher while still making use of his skillset to generate problems for offenses on the inside.

Rd. 3: Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson, DB, TCU

The 2022 Jim Thorpe Award recipient would look nice in the Silver and Black. If he falls to the third round, there’s no way that Dave Ziegler doesn’t take the TCU product. Hodges-Tomlinson gives Graham one of the best overall cornerbacks in this class; if not for his height, he’d be a surefire first-round pick. Let’s say the plan is to keep Nate Hobbs on the outside, draft Hodges-Tomlinson, and have Amik Robertson man the inside as a platoon. The former Horned Frog has a notable repertoire of skills that make him a perfect fit as a press corner that can also get to the quarterback on a given play (Pro Football Focus 86.5 pass rush grade).

Rd. 4: Jake Haener, QB, Fresno State

Jimmy Garoppolo is QB1 for Josh McDaniels this upcoming season; a “quarterback controversy” is the last thing this team needs. At the same time, the Raiders need a quarterback for the future. Your typical mock draft has the team taking one in the first round; however, Garoppolo coming aboard gives Ziegler some flexibility. You pick up Haener in the fourth round and groom him behind “Jimmy G.” Haener has enough arm strength to succeed, possesses off-the-chart football IQ, and has phenomenal ball placement. When it’s all said and done, Haener will be a Raider in 2023.

Rd. 5: Cam Jones, LB, Indiana

These middle rounds are where Ziegler can do serious damage, and by serious damage, we mean the type that gives the Raiders future starters. The linebacker group is still devoid of talent. Drafting Jones out of Indiana gives Graham one of the highest-graded run defenders at the linebacker position (89.3 PFF grade).

Rd. 5: Jerrod Clark, DL, Coastal Carolina

Clark would be a promising prospect to groom on the inside under Graham. While he’s too raw to contribute as a pass rusher, he’d be excellent at helping to stop the run. He checks off the physical tools including strength, frame, and remarkable technique and tackling to be a serviceable NFL defensive tackle one day.

Rd. 5: Atonio Mafi, OG, UCLA

You never stop adding to your offensive line; in this case, Ziegler gets the Raiders a potential starting guard in Mafi. One of the better run-blockers at his position (88.3 PFF run-blocking grade), Mafi can continue his streak of regularly getting to the second level of a defense and opening things up, except now, it’ll be for Josh Jacobs.

Rd. 6: Asim Richards, OT, North Carolina

Richards, a solid pass-blocker in college, is an interesting pick here. He has the physical traits you look for in a tackle, especially his height (6’4″) and length. He’d develop nicely behind the likes of Kolton Miller and Jermaine Eluemunor.

Rd. 6: DeMarcco Hellams, DB, Alabama

If there’s one quality or trait that Graham covets, it’s versatility. Hellams gives him exactly that as a player with experience all over the defensive backfield. He took snaps inside the box, in the slot, outside wide, and at free safety while roaming the field. All things considered, this would be a steal in the sixth round for this level of value and talent.

Rd. 7: Cameron Young, DL, Mississippi State

Dave Ziegler keeps rebuilding his defensive line from the inside out here. Young has the physical traits you want in a nose tackle: power at the point of attack, arm length, and a high motor. If brought along correctly over the next year or two, he’ll be anchoring the Raiders’ defensive line for years.

Rd. 7: Mohamed Ibrahim, RB, Minnesota

Yeah, a running back. There’s no way that a Josh McDaniels-coached team doesn’t draft one each year. He totaled 1,715 yards from scrimmage and was tops in all of the NCAA with 20 rushing touchdowns in 2022; yeah, that’s a no-brainer in the seventh round.

*Top Photo: Getty Images

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