Raiders Mock Draft: Dave Ziegler Picks C.J. Stroud And Still Builds His Defense

Raiders 3-Round Mock Draft: Dave Ziegler Lands C.J. Stroud While His Defense Gets Reinforcements

The common discourse within Raider Nation is about which route Las Vegas Raiders general manager Dave Ziegler will take in the first round. There’s a genuine divide among those who want a quarterback and those who feel the defense needs as much help as possible. Well, it’s possible that Ziegler can pull off both: get himself a long-term answer to Jimmy Garoppolo’s “bridge” status while reloading the defense. Given the amount of defensive talent that’s available at the top of this draft class, the Raiders could realistically walk away with a potential starter at three positions on defense after taking a signal-caller with the seventh overall selection. Speaking of which… C.J. Stroud, anyone?

Raiders 3-Round Mock Draft: Dave Ziegler Gets To Work On The Defense

Rd. 1, Pick No. 7: QB, C.J. Stroud, Ohio State

The top quarterback prospects in this year’s group are as varied as they come. Some fall under the category of athletes with intangibles—traits you can’t coach, such as speed and athleticism. On the other hand, some are renowned for their arm strength. For the Raiders, you need a little bit of everything to succeed in Josh McDaniels’ offense. Now, the advantage of whoever Ziegler picks here is that they won’t be put in a situation where they have to start immediately. Assuming that Garoppolo’s body holds up, any quarterback taken by the Raiders shouldn’t see the field till Year 2.

Why Stroud?

If it comes down to Will Levis or C.J. Stroud in this scenario, the answer will always be Stroud.

The Rancho Cucamonga, California, native has drawn comparisons to Justin Herbert. In terms of Stroud’s arm, he possesses notable arm strength and already has sufficient accuracy to make an impact. He’ll make those difficult throws in traffic and hit his man in tight windows; luckily for him, the Raiders will have a loaded wide receiver corps that’ll help him in that regard. Stroud stands in the pocket and will take the hit if need be; however, he also has notable legwork and will make incoming pass rushers miss. If he’s there when it’s Ziegler’s turn, C.J. Stroud has to be the pick.

Rd. 2, Pick No. 38: DT, Mazi Smith, Michigan

Dave Ziegler has previously stated that he believes a defense needs to be built on the shoulders of the defensive line. It’s quite the opposite of how Al Davis once built his teams: from the outside (cornerback) in, instead, Ziegler’s putting emphasis on getting Maxx Crosby some help. With their second-round selection, that reconstruction gets underway…

Why Smith?

At 6’3″ and 323 pounds, Smith possesses the physical traits you’re looking for: size, strength, power, and a notable core. However, Smith also represents this generation of defensive tackles that aren’t just big and strong, but they’re also fast and athletic. More importantly, Smith isn’t just a run stuffer; he also has pass-rush ability, and with some NFL experience, he’ll turn into a disruptive force for the Silver and Black.

Rd. 3, Pick No. 70: CB, D.J. Turner, Michigan

Let’s face it: defensive coordinator Patrick Graham needs big, lengthy cornerbacks. But more importantly, he needs defenders that can not only cover but disrupt the opponent’s passing game. Thankfully, there are going to be some talented corners in this year’s class; needless to say, the Raiders need to come away with at least one, maybe two.

Why Turner?

Well, if you’re going cornerback in the third round, it might as well be Turner. Double-dipping from the Michigan Wolverines in this scenario, Turner gives Graham a viable option to patrol the outside. Turner can play in either man or zone schemes, and his football IQ is off the charts; he possesses remarkable awareness. On top of that, the Raiders would be getting an explosive athlete in Turner who’ll keep up with the fastest NFL receivers. What he lacks in height (six feet tall), Turner makes up for in tenacity and will give opponents plenty of headaches.

Rd. 3, Pick No. 100: EDGE, Andre Carter II, Army

Along with getting a presence in the interior, Dave Ziegler and the Raiders can end up getting another future stalwart within the first 100 picks. That, of course, is thanks to the Darren Waller trade. Look, even if Chandler Jones bounces back, he’s not the long-term answer. Getting a presence opposite of Crosby needs to be high on the team’s priority list.

Why Carter?

A downside to Carter is that he might not be a Day 1 starter, but his physical prowess and athletic gifts make him an enticing option with the 100th overall pick. Essentially, he fits the “freak” profile, possessing everything you look for in that type of project: length, height, weight, and noticeable footwork. In college, he was often dropped into coverage, showcasing solid movement and speed, but the Raiders would be better off strictly developing him to come off the edges; at 6’7″ and 260 pounds, he’s already got some prerequisites filled out.

*Top Photo: Getty Images

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