The Raiders’ front office has held its cards close to the vest throughout the 2023 NFL Draft process. While general manager Dave Ziegler has preached patience and asset-building, there is a feeling that Vegas could make a minor move up the board if C.J. Stroud is available after the first two picks.
In this 7-Round Raiders mock draft, the team only has to move up a couple of spots to ensure its quarterback of the future. The first four picks went as follows:
•No. 1: Panthers – QB Bryce Young
•No. 2: Texans – EDGE Will Anderson
•No. 3: Cardinals – EDGE Tyree Wilson
•No. 4: Colts – QB Anthony Richardson
After seeing Stroud still available at No. 5 overall, the Raiders send an offer to Seattle to move ahead of the Lions in the draft order. Moving back two spots, the Seahawks can still land a high-upside player to pair with the added assets acquired via trade.
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•No. 5 Overall
•No. 7 Overall
•No. 70 Overall
•No. 174 Overall
Round 1, No. 5: C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
Head coach Josh McDaniels has a long-standing relationship with recent-signing Jimmy Garoppolo, but the opportunity to land a coveted, young signal-caller like Stroud is too enticing to pass up. To guarantee the Lions don’t take Stroud from under them, the front office sends No. 70 and No. 174 to Seattle to flip spots on day one.
Stroud is a dream pairing with McDaniels and his quarterback-friendly scheme. The Ohio State superstar boasts an idyllic frame behind center and offers extraordinary precision and accuracy when he surveys the field. Stroud’s impeccable ball placement and ample arm talent provide the perfect start to building a Super Bowl roster in Vegas.
Round 2, No. 38: Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina
The defense desperately needs a tone-setter in the secondary. Thankfully, this mock draft sees Cam Smith still on the board at No. 38. The South Carolina standout is a fluid mover with impressive ball skills and an intensity that cannot be taught. Smith oozes confidence in one-on-one situations, welcoming the challenge against the best receivers in the country.
Smith lacks the prototypical mass of a boundary cornerback, but he owns a sturdy frame capable of withstanding the pounding of an NFL season. He prefers man coverage, but Smith’s athleticism and high football IQ allow him to play in a variety of coverages, which is exactly what defensive coordinator Patrick Graham is looking for.
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Round 3, No. 100: Byron Young, DT, Alabama
The interior of the defensive line needs a needle-mover to build around. Alabama’s Byron Young is a likely prospect to outplay his draft position, and in this mock draft, the Raiders reap the benefits. Young is a diligent worker on the field and in the weight room. He is the type to hold a locker room accountable and demand the best from his teammates.
On the field, Young is a force at defensive tackle. He flashes otherworldly strength on tape and rarely is overwhelmed by the bigger bodies at guard. The Crimson Tide veteran provides a facelift to the run defense from day one and offers potential as a pass rusher between Maxx Crosby and Chandler Jones.
Round 4, No. 109: Dorian Williams, LB, Tulane
Cornerback: check. Defensive tackle: check. Linebacker? Enter Tulane’s, Dorian Williams. The hard-hitting defender boasts a similar build to the recently-departed Denzel Perryman and should start as a rookie. Williams flexes elite burst and strength at the point of attack, oftentimes looking like a much larger player than he is.
In coverage, Williams sticks with fleet-footed tight ends and shows remarkable discipline and play recognition as the play unfolds. The Green Wave linebacker can play at any spot in the middle of the defense, but MIKE feels like his home in the NFL. Vegas can confidently slot Williams into the “quarterback of the defense” role.
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Round 5, No. 141: Olusegun Oluwatimi, C, Michigan
Investing so much in a franchise quarterback means the Raiders need a few additions on the offensive line. Olusegun Oluwatimi displays raw strength when engaged with his assignment, especially as a run blocker, as the Michigan alum consistently overpowers those across from him.
Oluwatimi is no slouch in pass protection, either. His anchor is nearly impenetrable, as is evident by his 410 pass-blocking snaps in 2022 without allowing a single sack. Stroud performs best with a stable run game and a clean pocket; Oluwatimi can provide both in year one.
Round 5, No. 144: Andrew Vorhees, OL, USC
The overhaul on the offensive line is not over yet. Andrew Vorhees would be a top-100 pick if healthy, but after tearing his knee up during the pre-draft process, the USC lineman is regularly found available on day three of mock drafts. The Raiders benefit again and snag the bulldozer at No. 144.
Vorhees, like Oluwatimi, is a mauler in the run game, using incredible lower-body strength to churn piles and create lanes for his ball carriers. The former Trojan deploys a stout anchor in pass protection, only being charged with three sacks in his last 1,248 pass-blocking reps. A clean quarterback is a happy quarterback.
Round 6, No. 214: Cameron Latu, TE, Alabama
Late on day three of the 2023 NFL Draft, Vegas snags another Alabama prospect in tight end Cameron Latu. Latu is only an average athlete and lacks an elite trait that makes him stand out. Still, his jack-of-all-trades ability and high football IQ will be a welcomed addition to the depth chart behind Austin Hooper and OJ Howard.
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Round 7, No. 220: Jordan Howden, SAF, Minnesota
Marcus Epps and Trevon Moehrig are set to start at safety for the Raiders in 2023. Ideally, Vegas would find a piece for the safety room before the seventh round, but the board was unkind in this mock draft at the position. Instead, the team opts for Minnesota’s Jordan Howden at No. 220.
Howden excels as a run defender and is still developing in coverage. With the Raiders, the Gopher defensive back can compete for reps in training camp and learn the ropes as a rookie. Given his work ethic (a popular theme in this mock draft), Howden has a chance to surprise folks when he finds a landing spot in the NFL.
Round 7, No. 231: Chamarri Conner, SAF, Virginia Tech
The Raiders take another dip into the safety pool with the final pick of this mock draft. Chamarri Conner is a physically-imposing defender who boasts extensive on-field experience in college, logging over 3,000 snaps at Virginia Tech. Conner and Howden inject competition in the secondary and give Patrick Graham more pieces to work with.
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*Top Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images*