Dave Ziegler, Josh McDaniels Las Vegas Raiders free agency

Road to the draft: Ramblers give their preferred pick at seven for Raiders

It’s draft day, Raider Nation, and your Las Vegas Raiders currently hold the seventh-overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. With names such as C.J. Stroud, Devon Witherspoon, Tyree Wilson and Jalen Carter potentially being available at seven, fans wait in excitement to see who Dave Ziegler adds to the roster.

We here at The Raider Ramble are no different.

Just like the rest of Raider Nation, we each have our own opinion of who Ziegler should select at seven, and why. Some chose to attack defense early, while others chose to give the team’s high-powered offense even more explosiveness.

Here’s the list of players us Ramblers would take with the seventh-overall pick:

Now that you know who we’d take. let’s talk about why.

With the seventh-overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, Dave Ziegler and the Las Vegas Raiders select..

Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech – Alex Monfreda (@AlexMonfreda)

With Chandler Jones and Maxx Crosby, fans don’t view edge as a need for the Raiders. There’s more than one reason I believe Tyree Wilson might be the pick, and it starts with disagreeing about the level of need edge rusher is.

For one, Chandler is no kid. At 33 years old, Dave Ziegler has no choice but to start thinking about the future. Unfortunately, Jones’ age began to show for most of the season as he totaled 4.5 sacks at the year’s end. For reference, Jones had gone the last six seasons in a row logging double-digit sacks, not counting his ’20 campaign where he appeared in five contests. To go from six consecutive seasons of 10+ sacks to less than five in 15 games is a scary proposition.

Beyond this, Ziegler has continuously stated he believes in building a defense from the line upward. He’s also a believer that you can never have too many edge rushers – one can argue the Raiders are dangerously close to having a single disruptive guy coming off the edge. There’s an easy way to fix that: adding the best pass-rushing EDGE in this year’s draft.

Raiders go cornerback early

Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon – Hunter Haas (@NFLDraftHaas)

The Raiders need a lockdown cornerback in the worst way and Christian Gonzalez is exactly that. The Oregon standout boasts superb athleticism, acing the RAS explosion and speed tests with 4.3 speed and a vertical north of 40 inches.

From a technical sense, Gonzalez shows natural instincts in coverage, using his long arms and incredible burst to disrupt passing lanes downfield. The former Duck displays remarkable footwork in man coverage and has all the traits necessary to be a dominant zone defender.

Quarterback is a flashier move, but the biggest need on the roster is at cornerback. A move up for C.J. Stroud cannot be ruled out if the Buckeye signal-caller falls down the board. However, as things stand, Gonzo is more likely and he presents Vegas with a difference-maker from day one.

Dave Ziegler gets his quarterback

C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State – Phil Robinson III (@PhilRobinsonIII)

There are simply too many reasons why this makes sense for the Las Vegas Raiders. Whether they trade up in the draft or stay put at seven, Stroud is the best player available for the Raiders. A quick decision maker with the arm, accuracy and anticipation coaches dream about, Stroud is the prototypical fit.

For those who dare to call him a system quarterback, Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels wants a system quarterback. A player to learn all the intricacies of the offense, all the checks, all the adjustments, and correctly read every option on the field. A player who will stand in the pocket, make the correct read, and deliver a catchable ball in the proper window for yards after the catch.

Stroud is 6-3 and 205 pounds, and the only comparison I can accurately give is that watching him throw passes is like watching Klay Thompson setup, catch and shoot the 3-pt shot from the elbow. His throwing motion is silky smooth with near-perfect ball placement. The knock on Stroud is that he lacks athleticism.

Some are brazen enough to call him a product of his environment and incredible receiving corps. Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Marvin Harrison Jr. and Emeka Egbuka all flourished while working with Stroud. However, it takes an elite quarterback to feed this many wide receivers and get most of them drafted into the NFL.

And lastly..

C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State – Mario Tovar (@_MarioTovar)

Depending on who goes first Thursday afternoon, there could be a few scenarios at play for the Las Vegas Raiders. That said, the best-case possibility for the Silver and Black would be for general manager Dave Ziegler to get his quarterback.
With Will Levis and Bryce Young likely off the board, C.J. Stroud would be the optimal route. Of course, we’re assuming he’ll be there. A trade-up isn’t something that Ziegler can afford. There are far too many holes within this roster as currently constructed. Every single one of those 12 picks is pivotal for the Raiders this year.
As far as the quarterback position goes, Jimmy Garoppolo gives the team an opportunity to groom a long-term successor. That successor, of course, needs to be Stroud.
*Top photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

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