On nearly any big board you look at, USC defensive lineman Leonard Williams is the first name you'll find. At 6'5" and 300 pounds, Williams has the ability to play inside and outside along the line — filling one of two positions the Raiders are in need of.
There's also the fact that Williams wants to be a Raider, which always helps in a time in which that doesn't seem to be a prevailing opinion around the league. The biggest question facing Oakland isn't whether they want Williams as much as whether they'll even have a chance to grab him.
Our trusty friend Bleacher Report recently ran a "report" suggesting Oakland (against just about everything Reggie McKenzie has done since being hired) might trade UP in the draft to select Williams. While that seems crazy, I guess it indicates how highly some people really think about Williams.
Do our staff writers agree?
As mentioned above, the question here is less about Oakland's admiration of Williams and more about the prayers they're probably launching begging for Williams to fall. While some mock drafts have him falling to No. 4 (and not any further), I'm skeptical that come draft day everyone ahead of Oakland will pass on Williams.
The good news on Williams is that he fills a need in Oakland along the interior of the defensive line. Oh, and there's also the fact that he's really, really good.
80 tackles, 7 sacks and 8.5 tackles for a loss from the middle of the defensive line is fantastic, and the kind of disruption he could provide in collaboration with Khalil Mack would be dreamy for Jack Del Rio.
Plain and simple, Williams is the best player in the draft, at a position of need and he wants to play for the Raiders. If Oakland even gets a chance to make a decision on Williams, it's going to be a massive win.
Remember when the Raiders hasd the best defensive line in the NFL? Richard Seymour was their defensive tackle. The Raiders gave up a ton to get Seymour, but nobody can say he wasn't a great player for them. Leonard Williams is essentially that sort of guy- strong, fast, freakishly large and athletic. He compares favorably to Seymour in hat he can play DT or DE and Kevin Williams in being that massive, stout DT. Lining him up next to Justin Ellis, Khalil Mack and Justin Tuck would be devastating to opposing offensive lines. Who do you double-team? They will have to hold on every play, but sometimes it might be egregious enough that the refs will see it.
Every elite defensive line begins with a great defensive tackle. Baltimore had that with Pat Williams and Tony Siragusa, and then Haloti Ngata. Detroit had it with Ndaukong Suh. The Raiders at one point had it with Seymour. Pittsburgh had it with Mean Joe Greene. This is Oakland's chance to draft that guy and plug him in for the next ten years. Since this draft is deep with great wide receivers, the Raiders can afford to wait on that if Williams is available at #4. His bust potential is very low, and he is going to keep getting better.
Leonard Williams is widely regarded as the best prospect in the 2015 NFL Draft and I am one to agree with that statement. He is a supremely gifted athlete with elite length, explosion, and power. Williams had impressive production at USC totaling 138 tackles, 27 tackles for loss, 14 sacks, 4 deflections, and 3 fumble recoveries in 22 career starts.
There can be a legitimate argument made that Amari Cooper should be the pick even if Leonard Williams is available and I would have to agree with that as Cooper is the number two player on my board and fills a much bigger need. But there are two players that the Raiders could draft at number four overall that I would grade the selection an A+, Williams is one of them. Because when you are getting the best player in the draft with the fourth overall pick, that is how you win championships.
Williams and Khalil Mack would create havoc on opposing offenses and Williams would free up more opportunities for Mack to get to the quarterback. The one and only question I have with taking Williams is that the Raiders have two young and talented defensive tackles in Justin Ellis and Dan Williams.
Marcus Allen Krause
Leonard Williams is the pick for the Raiders to make if he is still there at number 4 overall. No trade back, no Dante Fowler, no Amari Cooper. Leonard Williams is without a shadow of a doubt the player that the Raiders should pick.
His combination of moves, strength and closing speed make him the top defensive prospect in this draft. He is such a dominant force that it is very difficult to believe he will still be there and if he is still there then it is a no brainer. He solidifies the biggest hole on this Raiders team, he creates a huge mismatch problem for opposing offenses and he would free up Khalil Mack on the outside by taking extra blockers his way.
The most impressive part of his game is his closing speed for a 6'5, 300lb man. His quickness is elite and paired with his strength it seems inevitable that he will be a pro bowl quality player. He also has excellent hands, awareness and has the ability to drop back in the flat in pass defense. He is the complete package and the no doubt top choice for me if I was picking for the Raiders.
Recently Jack Del Rio said what he and Reggie McKenzie have in common is a respect for the big fellas in the trenches. Both have also mentioned at times they want players who really want to be a Raider. And Reggie McKenzie has always preached taking the best player available. Leonard Williams fits all of those criteria.
Williams is as dominant as they come at defensive tackle. The Raiders went after Ndamukong Suh in free agency and lost out to Miami. They also had interest in Jared Odrick, who went to Jacksonville - the team just ahead of them in the draft, which is why Williams is even available at this pick. Drafting Williams would make up for those losses.
In addition to his on-field talents, he went to USC, which is Del Rio's alma mater, and where DC Ken Norton Jr. coached. Williams can line up at several different positions on the defensive line, including alongside the other recent DT Williams addition -- Dan Williams. Leonard is most ideally a 3-tech DT but could also play DE in the Raiders' base 4-3. This also means he could easily shift to defensive end in a 3-4 alignment with Khalil Mack as the pass rushing outside linebacker. If that isn't an exciting possibility I don't know what is.