To say that the 2023 NFL Draft is the most important player selection meeting of the past 20 years for the Las Vegas Raiders is putting it mildly. There’s tons of pressure from fans and the media alike to see the Raiders improve after a highly underwhelming 2022 regular season under head coach Josh McDaniels. General manager Dave Ziegler enters his second draft with a treasure chest full of draft capital after trading last year’s first and second round selections for All-Pro wideout Davante Adams. As we take another stab at a mock draft, there’s one hard-hitting question that’ll be answered soon enough: Is Will Levis the pick?
Raiders Mock Draft: Does Dave Ziegler need to draft a quarterback with the seventh overall pick?
Rd. 1, No. 7: Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
A likely scenario that plays out for the Raiders once they’re on board could be a disappointing one for some. Many Raiders fans want the pick to be Anthony Richardson, Bryce Young, or C.J. Stroud. However, the trio will likely be off the board within the first five picks. That means Will Levis would have to be the pick if that’s what takes place. Well, assuming Levis is the “best player available” for Ziegler and Co. Yes, Levis is meeting with the team this week, but that’s just the front office doing their due diligence. There are definitely some concerns, such as timing and ball placement, especially on shorter routes. Still, Levis’ arm might be too much to pass up on even if he struggled during his pro day recently. Raider Nation, meet your “quarterback of the future,” Mr. Will Levis.
Rd. 2, No. 38: Emmanuel Forbes, CB, Mississippi St.
Ziegler and the Raiders’ front office pulled off a sly move in acquiring both David Long and Duke Shelley during free agency. However, the Silver and Black need to walk away from this draft class with at least one of the heralded cornerbacks that will be going in the first three rounds. Emmanuel Forbes from Mississippi State needs to put on some weight as he transitions into the NFL (preferably in the neighborhood of 15 pounds), but his speed and versatility make him invaluable. However, Forbes’ talents around the ball are the selling point; he’s a playmaker (14 career interceptions), and last we checked, the Raiders need as many of those as they can get.
Rd. 3, No. 70: Andre Carter II, EDGE, Army
A solider in every sense of the word, Andre Carter II possesses so many of the traits that simply can’t be coached. A raw, athletically gifted lineman that simply doesn’t quit, Carter can lay claim to having a motor that doesn’t quit while having some of the highest football IQ in this draft. While he requires coaching to become a more refined pass rusher at the next level, Carter could play behind the likes of Chandler Jones as he transitions, but the potential for him to turn into something special screams more boom than bust.
The Raiders now need to replace Pro Bowl TE Darren Waller
Rd. 3, No. 100: Luke Schoonmaker, TE, Michigan
One development that threw a wrench into the team’s offseason was Darren Waller getting traded. Long-term, the Raiders need a tight end for the future, and luckily, McDaniels has a history of developing them. Michigan’s Luke Schoonmaker has the physical tools (6’5″ and 250 pounds) to become a weapon in the Raiders’ offense. He could already be an asset in pass-blocking, and while his numbers don’t stand out, Schoonmaker is an instant vertical threat up the seams.
? @LukeSchoonmaker only needs ONE hand @UMichFootball pic.twitter.com/yrgfZqRP6L
— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) December 5, 2021
Rd. 4, No. 109: Ivan Pace Jr, LB, Cincinnati
The Raiders will be looking to replace Denzel Perryman in this draft, and Ivan Pace Jr. would do just that. Actually, he’d be a better fit in the long run. Why do you ask? Well, Pace has playmaking ability, and he could end up becoming an asset in coverage. Sooner or later, the Raiders will need someone to cover Travis Kelce.
Rd. 5, No. 141: Ronnie Hickman, DB, Ohio St.
Raiders fans collectively groan when it comes to Ohio State defensive backs, but can you blame them? However, the Raiders need versatile athletes that can do more than one thing; enter Ronnie Hickman. Defensive coordinator Patrick Graham would love nothing more than a playmaker that can line up anywhere in the defense, save for the defensive line. Don’t worry, folks, this isn’t Gareon Conley or “he who will not be named.”
Ronnie Hickman identifies the run, heads downhill and stops the running back from breaking for a big run. pic.twitter.com/H5qKvm0ASb
— Mase Riney (@caliking49er17) March 27, 2023
Raiders Mock Draft: Ziegler and Co. continue building their defense in the middle rounds
Rd. 5, No. 144: Keondre Coburn, DL, Texas
Despite drafting two defensive tackles last year, Dave Ziegler knows that in order for his defense to turn things around, it’ll start in the trenches. Keondre Coburn gives Graham a true nose tackle who isn’t just a big plug up the middle; he can actually move and shut down running lanes with notable lateral movement. Coburn has the size, raw power, and feet you look for in a future starter.
Rd. 5, No. 174: Yasir Abdullah, EDGE, Louisville
Staying with the defensive line, the Raiders would be doing themselves a favor by going with Yasir Abdullah in the fifth round. Though he’s undersized at just 237 pounds, Abdullah possesses an excellent repertoire of pass-rushing moves, thanks in part to having some remarkable hands. Pro Football Focus awarded him a 90.8 grade in the pass-rushing department last year. If he doesn’t outrun you, Abdullah will fight till the whistle blows with his remarkable motor and hustle. He’s a Raider if there ever was one in this draft.
Raiders 3-Round Mock Draft: C.J. Stroud And Defense? Dave Ziegler Pulls It Off
While the Raiders quietly fielded one of the better offensive lines in 2022, Dave Ziegler can’t afford to draft at least one, maybe two, quality linemen. Juice Scruggs demonstrated an ability to hold his own in the interior. He does well against the bull rush, and while his size might lend more to a career as an NFL guard than his collegiate position at center, the Raiders need as much quality as they can get this year.
Dave Ziegler and the Raiders need close out strong in the 2023 NFL Draft
Rd. 6, No. 214: Cameron Brown, CB, Ohio St.
Another Buckeye cornerback in the same mock draft? That’s right, Cameron Brown is an absolute steal in the sixth round. Graham and the Raiders covet physical corners that aren’t afraid to put in work at the line of scrimmage. Well, Brown will certainly do that for you. While his downfield speed is a concern, Brown has the frame, length, and balance to blanket a receiver. If the Raiders can give him some time to develop, they’ll be getting a solid complementary piece for their backfield.
Rd. 7, No. 220: Keaton Mitchell, RB, East Carolina
Let’s face it, you know McDaniels can’t help himself and will pound the table for a running back (again). While not a “pure” running back, Keaton Mitchell provides you with a gadget player that’ll strike with a home run play every now and again. Mitchell’s nasty footwork will make any incoming defender miss, and really, that’s all he needs to take it down the field.
Hey everyone, Keaton Mitchell is fast. #Browns
— Matt Wilson (@CoachWilson66) March 28, 2023
Rd. 7, No. 231: Ventrell Miller, LB, Florida
Florida’s Ventrell Miller gives the Raiders a reliable, intelligent linebacker that can quickly diagnose a play and will strike at the heart of the line of scrimmage. While he’s a liability in coverage due to concerns with a lack of sideline-to-sideline speed, Miller will hold his own against the run.
*Top Photo: Getty Images
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