There are different ways one can go about putting a mock draft together. You can either try to make sure you get as many picks correct as possible, or go pick by pick deciding which player each team would be most likely to take from what's on the board. Considering the latter is how the draft actually plays out, the former seems not to line up with the realities of the draft.
And yet, it appears, the first approach is, admittedly the one that McShay says he's subscribed to throughout his time as a draft 'guru' for ESPN for several years.
For his most recent mock draft, he said he went with what Mel Kiper calls his "Grade A" mock draft approach, which has the following stated rules:
1. At each slot, I make a pick in the best interest of only the team with the pick. I won't pass on a player at No. 4 just because I like the team better at No. 5.
2. No trades unless they're already done. I try to address team needs, but like the draft, value can supersede need.
3. Again: I'm not projecting. It's more a look at where I see value up and down the board.
Utilizing that approach, he has the Raiders first three rounds shaking out like this:
Round 1 (14): Chris Jones, DT, Mississippi State
Round 2 (44): Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson
Round 3 (75): Devontae Booker, RB, Utah
Jones has been gaining some notoriety as an interior pass rusher. The 6-5, 310-pounder hasn't been among the top defensive tackles mentioned as potential first round picks, but the buzz surrounding him could mean taking him at pick 14 may not be a reach. For instance, Pro Football Focus has him rated as a mid-first round pick and the best interior pass rushing defensive lineman in the draft. Even better than DeForest Buckner (which is just silly). On the flipside, Dane Brugler has Jones as a third round prospect in his draft guide. Either way, he would certainly fill the position of 3-tech DT which the Raiders need.
Early mock drafts projected Mackensie Alexander to the Raiders at 14 overall, which makes it all the ore surprising he would fall to 44. While I have been skeptical of taking him at 14, he would be a fantastic selection if available at 44. Though that could be a big if.
The third round pick is fascinating, really, because as I pointed out yesterday, both the SB Nation and Pro Football Focus had the Raiders not only passing on taking a safety in the top three rounds, but had them going running back with their third round pick. And in each case, it was a different running back. Booker is projected to go between round 2-4 by various sources so this spot for him would be about right.