Las Vegas Raiders HC Josh McDaniels

On The Ray-Dar: A Las Vegas Raiders Draft Wish List

The prognostications are multiplying like mad, aren’t they? It’s the nature of the NFL business, however, as we are screaming around the corner towards the 2023 NFL Draft. Everywhere you look, there’s draft content. It’s piling up like Las Vegas Raiders losses in 2022, no? Cut a little too deep on that one?

Laughter is the best medicine, Raider Nation.

But we’re two weeks away from the draft, and let’s take a look at a Silver and Black wish list when it comes to the annual event:

Make Patrick Graham a happy defensive coordinator, will ya? 

There’s no denying the Raiders defense’s performance under Patrick Graham was underwhelming. But considering the talent he had to work with outside of Maxx Crosby, it’s easy to have sympathy for the defensive play caller. When he was brought aboard, he noted he just wants good players. And the draft is where the Raiders can add some.

Las Vegas has the opportunity to build a solid foundation with draftees, and the defense needs some serious attention. So, get Graham some ingredients to cook.

Plus, getting quality young talent will help answer if Graham is indeed the right person to orchestrate the defense or…

A linebacker in the top 100 picks, please…

Las Vegas owns four picks in the top 100 (the final one is literally No. 100), and the team needs more talent and depth at the linebacker position. Divine Deablo and Robert Spillane have talent, but more competition will lead to better production.

The No. 7 overall pick is likely too rich for a linebacker (non-rushing), but picks No. 38, No. 70, and No. 100 are ripe for LB talent.

The last time the Raiders took a linebacker within the top 100 picks (Khail Mack was announced as a LB when taken fifth overall in 2014) were Deablo (announced as a defensive back; he was a safety at Virginia Tech) with pick 80 and Sio Moore with pick 66 in 2013.

Time to put more draft capital at the position group.

The Las Vegas Raiders need to bring in an alpha cornerback…

Las Vegas did well to bring in a DB with that mentality in free agency with Duke Shelley, but the team needs more fiery CBs on defense. There are two that jump out immediately in the first round: Oregon’s Christian Gonzalez and Illinois Devon Witherspoon.

But there are Day 3 options for this particular type of cornerback, too.

Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson (TCU, or simply Tre Tomlinson) is a productive, disruptive, and tenacious corner who sees completions on him as insulting. Yes, he’s short at 5-foot-8, but he’s just like Shelley. Another is Riley Moss (Iowa), who is another nuisance cover man who is ultra-competitive and tackles well.

Be bold, Dave Ziegler and Josh McDaniels!

If the draft board falls the way the Raiders general manager and head coach expect it to, or if a prospect they covet isn’t picked and available, trade up or down.

Don’t hesitate. Be confident in your convictions and be intrepid.

For example, if a quarterback or a defender somehow slips down the draft board and Las Vegas covets that prospect, make a move. After all, fortune favors the bold.

Don’t be afraid to double up…

Ziegler showed this in his initial draft when he took two running backs and two defensive tackles in 2022. Look, the Raiders aren’t a paragon of quality, depth, or competition. As such, the team needs as much talent as it can get at any position group, even if that means taking more than one prospect at the position.

The only positions where this doesn’t hold are quarterback, running back, kicker, punter, and long snapper.

Make the quarterback position a strength and…

Both Ziegler and McDaniels said they want to make the QB spot a strength and aren’t afraid to add even more talent to the room. Yes, Jimmy Garoppolo is the starter, and veteran Brian Hoyer is QB2, with Chase Garbers as the developmental type.

But if a signal caller the Raiders identify as a must-have appears in any round (from the first all the way to the seventh round), take them. Bring them into the mix, let them learn and compete, and guess what? You may have a tradable commodity.

Much like what Garoppolo became when the New England Patriots took him in the second round back in 2014 with Tom Brady entrenched as the starter.

Bring a bit of Al Davis’s speed-mentality back…

The legendary figure was big on bringing in fleet-footed prospects. The Raiders are in need of more juice, and there are plenty of prospects who bring speed in spades.

Defensive tackle Adetomiwa Adebawore (Northwestern) is one; he ran a 4.49 at 280 pounds. Quarterback Anthony Richardson (Florida) is another, as he clocked in at 4.43. Wide receiver Derius Davis (TCU) would be an electric return man with 4.36 speed. And Gonzalez has an elite 4.38 time, too.

Even edge rushers have Davis-coveted speed like Georgia’s Nolan Smith (4.39) and Oregon’s DJ Johnson (4.49). Ditto for linebackers such as Clemson’s Trenton Smith (4.43), Louisville’s Yasir Abdulllah (4.47), and Auburn’s Owen Pappoe (4.39).

*Top Photo: Jeff Bottari/Getty Images

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