The 2023 NFL Draft is just over two weeks away, and it is still uncertain which path the Raiders will take at No. 7 overall. With the signings of Jimmy Garoppolo and Brian Hoyer, it would likely take a draft-day tumble from Bryce Young or CJ Stroud for Vegas to dip into the quarterback pool.
A trade up the board is possible if a quarterback the front office covets is still available at No. 3. The more likely outcome is a trade down, as general manager Dave Ziegler remains adamant about his desire to build the roster organically through the draft.
I went with a ‘trade down’ in my previous mock draft, so this time the team stays put. In this exercise, the first six picks of the 2023 NFL Draft were:
- Panthers – CJ Stroud
- Texans – Bryce Young
- Cardinals – Will Anderson Jr.
- Colts – Anthony Richardson
- Seahawks – Jalen Carter
- Lions – Christian Gonzalez
Raiders 3-Round Mock Draft: Vegas Adds Red Raider Superstar at No. 7
The Raiders are now on the clock, and with the No. 7 overall pick, Vegas selects…
Rd. 1, Pick 7: Tyree Wilson, DL, Texas Tech
On the surface, adding another pass rusher could be seen as overkill with Maxx Crosby and Chandler Jones already on the roster. However, when using a premium draft pick, teams must think about a player’s immediate role, but also their long-term fit on the depth chart.
The Texas Tech defensive lineman is a force to be reckoned with. He uses otherworldly length to gobble up ball carriers from the interior and the edge. Wilson exhibits brute force when pursuing the quarterback showing he can consistently collapse the pocket.
As a rookie, expect Wilson to log snaps from the interior when Crosby and Jones are on the field. He can spell Jones throughout the season, helping keep the veteran fresh for a full 17-game schedule. Wilson’s versatility makes this a win-now and win-later move, as he possesses limitless upside if he becomes more efficient with his hand usage.
Rd. 2, Pick 38: Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina
The Raiders signed a few capable veterans in the secondary during free agency, but it still lacks a true foundational piece to build around. After valuing the more premier position on day one, Vegas looks to upgrade the cornerback spot by adding a tone-setter at No. 38 in this mock draft.
Cam Smith brings a level of intensity and accountability that would immediately provide a jolt to the entire defensive unit. The South Carolina star is a tad smaller than most prototypical CB1s in the league, but his style of play substantially makes up for it.
Smith is a fluid mover who thrives at hounding receivers downfield and coming up to make thumping hits in run support. He may get type-casted into a slot role by some, but Smith is best suited for the boundary. His competitiveness and swagger benefit him when on an island with the best of the best at wide receiver.
Mock Draft Continues With Offensive Line Help… And A Darren Waller Replacement!
Rd. 3, Pick 70: Cody Mauch, OL, North Dakota State
The Raiders could be set at right tackle for the 2023 season, with Jermaine Eluemunor inking a deal to remain in Vegas. But what is wrong with some competition in this mock draft? North Dakota State’s Cody Mauch will provide that the moment he arrives.
The Bison standout starred as the team’s left tackle throughout his collegiate career, showcasing pure strength and some deceptive agility for a guy of his stature. Mauch is a starting-caliber player anywhere on the offensive line, so allowing him to compete with Eluemunor will not take either one out of the lineup.
Whoever wins the battle can bookend the line with Kolton Miller, and whoever loses will kick inside and provide a drastic upgrade to the interior. Mauch is a fiery competitor who never gives up on a play until he buries his assignment in the turf or the whistle blows, whichever comes first.
Rd. 3, Pick 100 (via NYG): Zack Kuntz, TE, Old Dominion
The Raiders sent starting tight end Darren Waller to the Big Apple earlier in the offseason. The front office signed veteran Austin Hooper and journeyman youngster OJ Howard as replacements, but neither tight end inspires much optimism heading into the future. Enter Old Dominion’s, Zack Kuntz.
The traitsy prospect surprised many at the NFL Draft Combine when he tested like a freak (respectfully). Kuntz posted the highest RAS of any tight end prospect in the database, dating all the way back to 1987. I mean, take a look at these numbers.
Zack Kuntz is a TE prospect in the 2023 draft class. He scored a 10.00 RAS out of a possible 10.00. This ranked 1 out of 1054 TE from 1987 to 2023. #Correction, but didn't knock him out of the top spot.https://t.co/mpZ9CLNDkc #RAS pic.twitter.com/vIUzepU1VE
— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) March 24, 2023
Kuntz will need time to adjust to the uptick in speed at the NFL level, as most rookie tight ends do, but he would have the freedom to learn under a seasoned veteran such as Hooper. Kuntz must work on blocking technique early in his career, but the path to stardom is there for the small-school riser. He gives Josh McDaniels another versatile weapon to build around, capping the mock draft on a high note.
*Top Photo: John E. Moore III/Getty Images
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