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Todd McShay dead on about Denzel Ward as potential Raiders top draft pick in 2018

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Why Denzel Ward would make the best first-round pick for the Oakland Raiders in 2018.

Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

So, ESPN’s Todd McShay, in his first 2018 mock draft, has the Oakland Raiders selecting cornerback Denzel Ward in the first round. Raider Nation should hope that he’s there and general manager Reggie McKenzie agrees. There may be some who don’t think the Raiders should draft a CB in the first round again after getting Gareon Conley there last year.

Conley figures to recover from his injured shin and play come 2018. But Sean Smith and David Amerson will make too much money between them without the production to warrant it. So at least one of them could be gone in the offseason.

Both had trouble covering speedy receivers like Tyreek Hill of the Kansas City Chiefs and Brandin Cooks of the New England Patriots. We saw what Cooks did to Smith in 2016 and what Hill did to Amerson this year. For that reason McShay is dead on for having the Raiders pick Ward in Round 1 in 2018.

Yes, it would mean the Raiders go back to Ohio State for another CB in the first round. You can see from Conley’s game against the New York Jets, his only healthy one, that he’s on his way. And Marshon Lattimore’s rookie season with the New Orleans Saints further illustrates how well Ohio State CB’s are taught. Plus Ward would make a traditional Raiders speedster, having run a 4.23 in the 40 according to Ohio State.

Don’t forget the Raiders are drafting to beat the Chiefs for the AFC West title and the Patriots in the playoffs. And they will need a CB with great speed to do that. To go with that speed, Ward is a smaller, faster version of Conley. He has electric feet and flips his hips quickly so he can jam or mirror his receiver to they can’t get separation from him.

Like the Raiders, Ohio State is known for their speed at WR and CB. Guys like Curtis Samuel (4.31) and Marshon Lattimore (4.36) lit up the combine on the way to the NFL. Wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. ran a 4.28 at his pro day and Joey Galloway was probably the fastest player of his generation.

A traditionally fast NFL team picking from a traditionally fast college team.