Raiders GM Dave Ziegler

Raiders Draft: Examining Two Day 1 Predictions For GM Dave Ziegler

If you find yourself unfortunate enough to be a fan of the Las Vegas Raiders, you may not find another period riper for optimism than NFL Draft week. In a tale as old as time, the 2023 NFL Draft will be pivotal for a Raiders franchise that is caught in the purgatory of mediocrity. Unlike last season, when the Silver and Black spent their first and second round picks to get All-Pro wideout Davante Adams, general manager Dave Ziegler has a full war chest of draft capital to play with.

Let’s not kid ourselves; this will be a group effort. Ziegler has fellow New England defector, or castaway, head coach Josh McDaniels. This draft has to be a slam dunk. More so because it must quench the thirst of a thirsty fanbase that hasn’t seen a quality draft class since 2014.

The Rush At QB Could Help Dave Ziegler Bolster The Defense

Draft season is famous for lies, front office smokescreens, and tear-jerking montages about poverty-stricken NFL hopefuls. Should you choose to believe the headlines as we reach the precipice of draft night, the Raiders may not be very enamored with any quarterback not named Bryce Young. That should work out for Ziegler and Co. Especially seeing as all four of the major QB targets should be off the board by the time the Raiders are on the clock.

The team does have enough ammunition to move up the board and snag a possible cornerstone like Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud or the enticing physical specimen that is Florida’s Anthony Richardson. Still, there’s a caveat. Ziegler may realize this roster is far from a “QB away” scenario. The Raiders are also not a few pieces away on the defensive side of the ball either.

Outside of defensive end Maxx Crosby and defensive back Nate Hobbs, every spot on the defensive side of the ball should be up for grabs come training camp. In other words, grab as many blue-chip defensive products as you can over the three days of the draft. Now, a move up in the latter rounds is never out of the question. Yet, the Silver and Black could use all twelve of their selections on prospects that defensive coordinator Patrick Graham can mold how he sees fit.

Raiders NFL Draft: A Cornerback Gets The Call…

It’s become a popular theory, but selecting a cornerback with the seventh pick may end up being a smart play for the Raiders. Fast draft board riser Devon Witherspoon out of Illinois and freak athlete Christian Gonzalez out of Oregon present differing skillsets and physical traits. In fact, both project to be top corners at the next level. Las Vegas hasn’t had that element in their secondary since Nnamdi Asomugha. The past few drafts have seen their fair share of defensive backs in the top ten. Though they’ve seen varying degrees of immediate success.

Defensive Backs Drafted in the Top 10 Since 2018

Year Player Pick
2022 Derek Stingley 3
2022 Sauce Gardener 4
2021 Jaycee Horn 8
2021 Patrick Surtain II 9
2020 Jeff Okudah 3
2020 C.J. Henderson 9
2018 Denzel Ward 4

Names like Sauce Gardener and Patrick Surtain II are viewed as indispensable keys to their respective defenses, while others like Jeff Okudah and CJ Henderson are already on their second franchises. This could sway Dave Ziegler into the direction of a trade down.

Dave Ziegler Trades Down, Fortifies The Trenches

What would not shock many is seeing the Raiders trade down to the early teens. What would be a slight surprise and may even frustrate some within Raider Nation is if this is done to take one of the top offensive tackles in the draft. Las Vegas has spent the last few seasons with a near-revolving door at the right tackle position. The team did re-sign the impregnable Brandon Parker to another one-year pact this offseason. Still, the five-year veteran lacks the skills and durability to be the bookend this team has needed since Kolton Miller settled in on the opposite side.

Ziegler could opt to bring in a Paris Johnson Jr. or a Peter Skoronski if they were somehow able to fall to the 11-13 range. Thus, allocating draft capital to an area that is almost as dire as the defense. New quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is far from the picture of health, so keeping him upright will be paramount for Ziegler and McDaniels.

Anything is possible when it comes to draft night with the Raiders. One thing’s for sure: if Las Vegas fails to land capable playmakers with this draft haul, Dave Ziegler may not have too many more drafts left to spearhead.

*Top Photo: Sports Illustrated/Raider Maven

Raiders NFL Draft: Looking At 3 Day 1 Scenarios For Dave Ziegler

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