This week is the NFL scouting combine which serves to kick draft talk into another gear. And with that, NFL Network’s draft expert Mike Mayock hopped on a conference call to talk draft with media across the country.
In particular, Mayock was asked about which defensive linemen would help with the Raiders pass rush from the interior defensive line.
Jack Del Rio had said in his post season press conference that the team lacked interior pass rush. For the Raiders, that could be at defensive end or tackle, depending on the alignment.
Part of the problem for the Raiders was being without Mario Edwards, who was missing all but the final couple games of the season with a hip injury. His return to form would be a great help, but the Raiders line will need more than just his presence to dominate the trenches on the defensive side as they would like.
“As far as this year's draft,” said Mayock, “Caleb Brantley from Florida, who is kind of a late first round into the second round, I think he's intriguing. He's a quick, one-gap guy. I don't think you want him playing three downs every snap. But as far as an ability to rush the quarterback and get an edge on interior offensive linemen, I think he's got that burst that you're looking for.
“I think Larry Ogunjobi from Charlotte, a name that not many people know about, I think he's really a talented guy. He's probably a second-round pick. He's got some real quick one-gap-and-go possibilities. He's also a tough guy. At Charlotte, he's got a two-gap. He's got run game potential, and I think he's got upside as a pass-game guy.
“As you drop down, I mean, you could even get into the third round and talk about a guy like Tanzel Smart from Tulane. Again, great motor, has some ability to push the pocket.
“You know, I think Eddie Vanderdoes from UCLA really helped himself. He had a poor year coming off an ACL. I think he was heavy and out of shape. Then he showed up at The Senior Bowl and started knocking people around. He's more of a physical guy. Always going to rush the quarterback with a bull rush. He's not going to beat you with speed. But he's really strong as can be. I think there are other guys in the second-third round, Montravius Adams, Jaleel Johnson, there are some guys out there that can help even through the third round.
“So I think the key to this interior defensive line class is Jonathan Allen's up top, and then I didn't even mention Malik McDowell from Michigan State who is probably a first- or second-round guy also. I think there is really good depth in the first three or four rounds for the interior D-line.”
Mayock didn’t stop with Dline, though. And from the sounds of it, he doesn’t necessarily think that’s the direction the Raiders should go with their top pick. He see a few prospects at other positions which could also be attractive options if they’re available when the Raiders pick.
“I think when you're looking at Oakland, when you're that late in the round anyway, I think you've got to take a step back and get a really good football player,” said Mayock. “What comes to mind for me is what about a running back. Who is going to be available at 24 are they going to let [Latavius Murray] go to free agency? Who is going to help them? Is Christian McCaffrey on the clock at that point? Who could help the Oakland Raiders at No. 24? I think the running back situation is interesting. I'm not sure there are going to be any tackles at that point. I think they also have to look at linebackers and at 24, I think there are some interesting guys off the line linebackers also, whether it's Reddick, Cunningham, Jarrad Davis. I think they're interesting players also.”