Raiders Mock Draft: Reuniting Nate Hobbs And Devon Witherspoon

NFL Mock Draft: Raiders Reunite Nate Hobbs, Devon Witherspoon In 3-Round Scenario

The Las Vegas Raiders can’t afford to botch the 2023 NFL Draft, if we’re being honest. This is especially true in the first three rounds, where general manager Dave Ziegler will have four selections within the top 100. The raging debate among talking heads and Raider Nation is which route to take. If you judge what the team’s brain trust did during free agency, it will appear rebuilding the defense through the draft makes the most sense. Why not reunite two old teammates, Nate Hobbs and Devon Witherspoon of Illinois fame?

Ziegler has already publicly stated that he’s looking to add an immediate impact contributor in the first round. If that’s the case, going with a cornerback early would be justifiable. More so due to the lingering questions surrounding the defensive backfield.

At the same time, the ever-present question surrounding the quarterback position will need answering as well. Let’s lay out one potential scenario for the Raiders’ first three rounds in this upcoming draft.

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Rd. 1 No. 7: Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois

Nate Hobbs dealt with health issues in Year 2, coming off a promising rookie season. However, the talent and potential are undoubtedly still there as he looks to bounce back in 2023. Surrounding Hobbs with an effective supporting cast should be high on Ziegler’s list; enter Witherspoon.

As our own Alex Monfreda pointed out, Witherspoon’s tape stands out; in fact, even Pro Football Focus called it “as good as we’ve seen in our nine years of college grading.” On top of that, Monfreda highlighted Witherspoon’s remarkable completion percentage of 35.5 in coverage, which stands tall above the other cornerback prospects. Unless Witherspoon is chosen at No. 6, as Pro Football Talk recently alluded to, Devon Witherspoon is a no-brainer; surely Ziegler knows this as well.

Rd. 2 No. 38: Daiyan Henley, LB, Washington State

The Crenshaw High School product is the definition of versatility. He literally played almost every key position imaginable the last few years, including edge rusher, wide receiver, defensive back, and even returning kicks. However, Henley’s explosiveness, speed, and movement simply jump out on film. The Raiders would be getting one of the more refined tacklers in this class for linebackers, and by refined, we mean devastating.

Already physically stout for his age, Henley will aid Patrick Graham’s defense thanks to his ability to cover sideline to sideline, shoot the gaps, and force turnovers. The question will be whether Graham can develop him, as there are concerns with Henley’s inability to diagnose plays. This is where coaching will be key.

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Rd. 3 No. 70: Nick Herbig, EDGE, Wisconsin

Even if Chandler Jones bounces back, a long-term placeholder is still needed. The Raiders could certainly go after Jalen Carter in the first if he drops, and plugging him in with Nick Herbig and Maxx Crosby could spell doom in the AFC West. As one of PFF’s highest-graded pass rushers, Herbig has a notable repertoire of moves already in his holster, along with solid speed. His ability to chase down opponents while defending the run is a plus, but it’s his hands that stand out.

Even if you’re not sold on his size (6’2″ and 228 pounds), Herbig’s production shows you that the potential is there as a pass rusher at the NFL level. Even if the Raiders ease him into the next level with just pass-rushing downs, it’ll be a worthwhile investment.

Rd. 3 No. 100: Tanner McKee, QB, Stanford

The last time the Raiders trotted out a quarterback from Stanford, the results were some clutch Super Bowl wins. We’re referring to Jim Plunkett, of course. Obviously, Tanner McKee is another case, but you can’t help but feel like the Raiders are due for their next great signal-caller. Head coach Josh McDaniels has been credited with developing several NFL quarterbacks, including the Raiders’ newest addition, Jimmy Garoppolo. However, drafting a long-term option is still in play for Ziegler; why not McKee with the 100th selection?

The benefit for McKee in this mock draft scenario is that he shouldn’t expect to see the field in Year 1. Still, he possesses the physical tools (6’6″ and 230 pounds) that McDaniels could work with, including a strong arm but also pocket presence with sufficient movement to not be a statue in the pocket. While you can certainly argue that McKee’s mechanics are still “raw,” this is where McDaniels comes in. Again, drafting McKee gives the head coach a project to work on while remaining competitive with Garoppolo.

*Top Photo: Getty Images

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