The 2023 NFL Draft is inching closer, and if we’re being honest, there’s no way of knowing who Las Vegas Raiders general manager Dave Ziegler will pick. In fact, speculation is rampant right now. Anyone who knows anything about the NFL is aware that this is “smokescreen” season. Still, that doesn’t stop the Raider Ramble from giving their thoughts on the matter.
In our latest Raiders’ roundtable, we’ll see who each of us feels should be the pick at No. 7 come April 27th.
NFL Draft: Should The Raiders And Dave Ziegler Just Stick To “Best Player Available?”
Alex Monfreda | Tyree Wilson or Jalen Carter
If Texas Tech’s Tyree Wilson is available, consider this pick a no-brainer. Raider Nation wants a star defender, and no defender — or perhaps any prospect — has a higher ceiling than Wilson. For those who pray for a cornerback, Wilson is still a favorable solution. High-end cornerbacks run deep in this year’s draft, and a prospect with legitimate CB1 potential will likely be there at 38. Worst-case scenario, Dave Ziegler moves up a few spots from 38 to grab Cam Smith or Emmanuel Forbes, either of whom could end up being the top corner from this draft. On the flip side of that, the difference between Wilson and whatever D-line players that will be available at 38 is absolutely immense.
If four quarterbacks go between 1-6, either Jalen Carter or Will Anderson is guaranteed to be available at seven should Wilson be selected beforehand. Both Carter and Anderson are equally no-brainers.
Quarterback or Defense?
Phil Robinson III | Bryce Young/C.J. Stroud or Christian Gonzalez/Devon Witherspoon
The Raiders need to draft an absolute force at pick No. 7. The quarterback of the future is not on this football team at this moment. Bryce Young and/or CJ Stroud should be BPA 1 and 2 for the Raiders. If not, they most certainly must take one of the two best defensive backs available.
Devon Witherspoon (Illinois) is a big, physical corner who can and will make his presence felt in every aspect of defense. Excellent in coverage, he is the complete outside defensive back that defensive coordinator Patrick Graham was missing last season. Christian Gonzalez (Oregon) is an elite pass coverage specialist. At times, his technique is reminiscent of Samari Rolle. He has extremely quiet and precise feet. No missteps or slips, always perfectly balanced and squared, an explosive player and accomplished locator of the football.
Mario Tovar | Trade Back
Simply put, the Raiders have tons of holes that need to be filled in one offseason. Particularly on the defensive side of the ball, Dave Ziegler needs to get Patrick Graham help at every level. The Raiders need an interior presence in the defensive line: a pass rusher, a linebacker that can cover tight ends, and tall, physical defensive backs. Fans aren’t exactly excited about trading out of the top 10, but if there was ever a draft that the Raiders needed to trade back into, it’s this one. That’s especially true with so much defensive talent to be had.
Maybe just stick to…
Ray Aspuria | BPA
A defender. Patrick Graham needs help in the worst way, and if the Las Vegas Raiders have intentions of becoming an AFC contender, the defense will need to be in the top 15 and not the bottom 20.
Two cornerbacks immediately jump to the forefront as “explosive” options in different ways: Christian Gonzalez (Oregon) and Devon Witherspoon (Illinois). Gonzo is a ballhawk, while Spoon is an enforcer. I’d take Spoon as he’s a tone-setting tackler who can mix it up willingly as a run defender with ascending ballhawk traits. The Raiders need a tone-setter and an Alpha in the secondary, and Spoon brings all that in spades.
The Raiders will pick…
Hunter Haas | Jalen Carter or Tyree Wilson
First and foremost, Georgia’s Jalen Carter Despite what some reports say, the Raiders are still exploring this possibility at No. 7 overall. Ultimately, this could prove to be too much of a risk for a franchise working on rebuilding its image following the disastrous Mike Mayock-Jon Gruden tenure. However, if Carter’s personality checks out, he would single-handedly transform the defensive interior with his gap-stuffing prowess and ability to wreck the pocket from the inside.
Another name that makes sense if he is available when Vegas hits the clock is Texas Tech’s Tyree Wilson. The star pass rusher boasts unparalleled size with his 35+ inch arms and wins with power, consistently overwhelming his blocker and walking them back toward the pocket. The reason Wilson works for the Raiders is that he can play with Chandler Jones and Maxx Crosby while serving as a long-term replacement for the former. As a rookie, Wilson can kick inside and play some defensive tackle, and he should keep the veteran Jones fresh throughout the 17-game slate by logging snaps on the edge, too.
*Top Photo: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
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