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Raiders early 2015 3-round mock draft without trades

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Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Ok, for the record I would prefer the Raiders to trade down and gather more picks. If that were the case, I would like to see them trade back a couple picks and draft Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper. In the second round, take Melvin Gordon with their first pick and a defensive lineman with their second pick. In the third, I would target either Michigan State free safety Kurtis Drummond or UCLA inside linebacker Eric Kendricks.

This way the Raiders get: a legitimate number one receiver, a great running back that can stimulate the Raiders rushing attack, a solid defensive lineman, and either a safety that can start after Woodson retires or an inside linebacker that can start if Nick Roach can't return. That would fill a lot of holes in my opinion and definitely help take pressure off Derek Carr.

But for this draft, I am going to pick without trades since trades are extremely hard to predict.

Round One (1 overall)

Leonard Williams, DE/DT, USC

For my money, Williams is the best player in college football. He can play both defensive end and defensive tackle in both a 4-3 and 3-4. He has a great frame (6'5", 300 lbs) that allows him to dominate as a run stuffer, but also has the acceleration to produce as a pass rusher. His versatility makes him a top talent.

Two years ago in a season which he earned the PAC-12 Defensive Freshman of the Year honors, Williams had 64 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss and 8 sacks as a defensive tackle for the Trojans. His sophomore season, he switched to defensive end and finished with 74 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss and 6 sacks. This season, Williams is off to a strong start with 54 tackles, 7 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks. What makes those numbers even more impressive is Williams is double-teamed almost every play.

The only knock on the junior is he has suffered numerous injuries while at USC. Last season, Williams tore his labrum and has shoulder surgery in the offseason. He has also been nagged this year with an ankle injury.

Think of the impact Leonard Williams would have on the Raiders defense. Besides his production, he would make the players around him much better. In a recent article, NFL Network's Gil Brandt stated that "If he [Khalil Mack] were part of a defense that forced opponents to worry about other players, Mack's production would be much better."

Mack is double-teamed almost every play, yet still often impacts the play. Plug in Leonard Williams on the defensive line and that opens up opportunities for Mack and Sio Moore to make plays in the backfield.


Round Two (33 overall)

Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin

If Todd Gurley is the best running back eligible for the 2015 Draft, Melvin Gordon is right behind him. While Gurley had 222 carries his freshman year, Gordon had the luxury of sitting behind Montee Ball his first two seasons. As a result, Gordon has taken less hits than Gurley and is projected to have more durability in the NFL.

Last season as a redshirt sophomore, Gordon carried the ball 206 times for 1,609 yards and 12 touchdowns for an outstanding 7.8 yards per carry average.

This season, Gordon picked up where he left off last year with 198 carries for 1,501 yards. He leads the nation in rushing yards. and runs of 40 yards or more (10), 20-plus (20) and 30-plus (13) yards. His 7.6 yards per carry ranks second best in the FBS. He is second in the nation  in touchdowns (19) and his 7.6 yards per carry is second in FBS.

The Raiders are on track to have one of the worst rushing seasons in NFL history. While their offensive line could be improved, they very much need is a running back. The addition of Gordon would make the Raiders offense much more two-dimensional and take a lot of pressure off Derek Carr in the process.


Round Three (65 overall)

Erick Kendricks, ILB, UCLA

Nick Roach has been out since the preseason with a concussion. At this point, his return to the NFL is questionable. Miles Burris has been absolutely terrible leaving the Raiders with a huge whole at middle linebacker if Roach can't play again.

Kendricks is a tackling machine with a nose for the ball. In 2012 as a starting sophomore, Kendricks recorded 150 tackles which is third most in UCLA history. Last season, Kendricks only played in 11 games but still finished the season with 105 tackles. This season through 10 games, the UCLA linebacker has totaled 114 tackles.

An AFC West scout told NFL.com that Kendricks played with the same kind of "intelligence and passion" that they saw in Bills LB Kiko Alonso."[H]e runs well for a big ILB who thumps," said the scout.

Kendricks does well in man coverage, but his zone coverage needs improvement. I love his technique for open-field tackling. He is a smart and instinctive player who would start for the Raiders and give them a young and talented linebacker corps along with Khalil Mack and Sio Moore.

Why no wide receiver?

One of the Raiders top needs is a true number one receiver. Last year, they did not draft a receiver and it was one of the biggest criticisms of the draft. But the keyword here is true number one. That often means picking a wide receiver in the top-15 picks. Last season, Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans were the only two receivers I felt could be legitimate number one options. But Watkins was picked before Oakland was on the clock, and Khalil Mack was too good of value to pass up.

That is a similar situation to this mock draft. Ideally the Raiders would trade back to somewhere between picks 4-8 to draft Amari Cooper. But if they have to stay at pick one, Leonard Williams is just too good of a value to pass up. Cooper and Kevin White are the two receivers that I see as a true number one. But White will likely be picked before the second round begins. If that is the case, then the Raiders would be better off not wasting a pick on a receiver that does not have the potential to be a number one.

The Raiders have great depth at wide receiver and a young core to build around. More receivers is not what they need, what they need is a Julio Jones or A.J. Green caliber wide receiver.