Wouldn’t it be nice if the Las Vegas Raiders put some serious attention to their defense in the upcoming draft? Defensive coordinator Patrick Graham is probably wondering if he’ll be getting a much-needed youth infusion. I do so in my latest Raiders mock draft (edition 3.0) as we approach the three-day 2023 NFL Draft extravaganza, April 27–29.
So, let’s get into it.
Raiders 7-Round Draft 3.0 Gives Patrick Graham Much-Needed Young Blood
No. 7 overall: Trade! An offer comes from the New York Jets — No. 13 and No. 43 to move up to the seventh spot. With the top quarterbacks gone, I take the trade knowing a top cornerback will be there for the taking at 13… I hope.
No. 13 overall: Cornerback, Joey Porter Jr. (Penn State) – The Raiders land an alpha corner who can match up with big receivers. Long arms make him a classic press-man bump-and-run cornerback, which seems to be the route Las Vegas is going. (Christian Gonzalez and Devon Witherspoon, the 1-2 rated corners, are snagged before pick 13).
No. 38 overall: Trade! The Chicago Bears offer picks No. 39 and No. 148 to move up one slot. It’s a no-brainer to move down one slot and pick up another pick.
No. 39 overall: Tight end Darnell Washington (Georgia) – The ideal prospect for McDaniels at the position is a menacing blocker who can translate his height, athleticism, and speed as a pass catcher. Washington’s situation would be akin to having a sixth offensive lineman up front.
No. 43 overall: Linebacker Drew Sanders (Arkansas) – Although I doubt the Raiders will make any linebacker a high draft pick, I can’t pass up Sanders here. A field general with the ability to rush the passer to boot, plug Sanders at middle linebacker, and don’t worry about the position for years.
Raiders Mock Draft: Vegas Keeps Stacking Defensive Picks
No. 70 overall: Defensive tackle Siaki Ika (Baylor) – This guy commands attention. A prototype nose tackle with his size and also a quick fit, Ika can anchor the middle of the Raiders defensive line as a space eater and block occupier who can collapse the middle of the pocket.
No. 100 overall: Linebacker Daiyan Henley (Washington State) – Now you know it’s a mock draft when you have the Raiders taking two linebackers in the top 100 picks. But Henley has experience in the 4-2-5 scheme and is a classic run-and-chase linebacker with speed who has takeaway production. Something the Raiders sorely need.
No. 109 overall: Tight end Cameron Latu (Alabama) – A combo tight end who is accustomed to lining up inline or outside wide, Latu is a smooth pass catcher and good blocker. He can improve in both areas but would be a solid prospect to learn behind Austin Hooper and fit in as an inline blocking TE in year one.
7-Round Raiders Mock Draft: GM Dave Ziegler (finally) gets Patrick Graham some help
No. 141 overall: Quarterback Jake Haener (Fresno State) – The Raiders have spent so much time scouting and visiting with Haener that it would be a shock if he wasn’t selected. He isn’t going to wow you with his physical attributes, but he’s got the requisite moxie and confidence to be a developmental quarterback under McDaniels.
No. 144 overall: Edge, K.J. Henry (Clemson) – A persistent defensive end, Henry has a non-stop motor and a solid pass-rushing toolkit to break down blockers. While his QB takedown production wasn’t high at Clemson, he did lead the team in pressures (53). The Raiders need more of that.
No. 148 overall: Offensive tackle, Jake Witt (Northern Michigan) – The pick acquired via a draft-day trade means a perfect spot for a project. Witt is the epitome of a moldable prospect due to his outstanding athletic profile and natural talent, but he is raw in terms of experience. A year of seasoning with the Raiders will help make Witt a swing tackle and potential starter down the road.
No. 174 overall: Cornerback Riley Moss (Iowa) – Fast, competitive, and packing a wallop, Moss can play outside or inside due to his ability to tackle. Can take the ball away, and he takes it personally when a catch is made on him. The Raiders need more of that attitude in the secondary.
More Help For Patrick Graham
No. 204 overall: Safety Anthony Johnson Jr. (Iowa State) – A cornerback turned safety who has the speed and physical makeup for the next level, Johnson was always around the ball in college. The Raiders need more depth at the position, and Johnson offers free safety and nickel corner capability.
No. 214 overall: Linebacker Nick Herbig (Wisconsin) – Finding subpackage pass rushers is always a plus, and the Raiders landing a ‘tweener’ in Herbig is solid. He isn’t big enough to be an every-down true edge, but he’s explosive and knows how to get by blockers en route to the quarterback.
No. 220 overall: Wide receiver Derius Davis (TCU) A wideout? This kid is a sprinter through and through and offers immediate featured returner skills. Las Vegas needs an electrifying presence in the return game, and Davis’s 4.36 speed sure fits the mold.
No. 231 overall: Defensive tackle Karl Brooks (Bowling Green). Big and moldable defensive tackles don’t come around often, and like Ika in round three, Brooks is a massive kid who can move well, too. Ika and Brooks will remind Raider Nation, or short-term Raiders, Ted Washington and Sam Adams.
*Top Photo: Penn Live
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