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NFL mock draft 2017: Mel Kiper’s Raiders picks in his three-round mock

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Taking a cue from his ESPN colleague, Todd McShay, Mel Kiper put together his own three-round mock draft, separating his picks by teams. Here are his selections:

Round 1 (24) Tre'Davious White, CB, LSU

Round 2 (56): Carlos Watkins, DT, Clemson

Round 3 (88): D'Onta Foreman, RB, Texas

The Raiders' defense is only a couple pieces away from being Super Bowl-caliber, and there's no doubt that they will be scouring the cornerbacks in this class. White, a four-year starter, could play outside or in the slot, and he could also help in the return game. Watkins is an explosive pass-rusher in a big frame (6-foot-3, 309 pounds). If he had been more consistent on every down, he might be a first-round pick. Oakland just cut veteran nose tackle Dan Williams, so there's an opening. The Raiders are still chasing Marshawn Lynch, but for now, I'll give them a runner in the mold of Lynch. At 6-0, 233 pounds, Foreman ran for more than 2,000 yards last season, but a stress fracture in his foot kept him out of combine workouts. He did have an impressive pro day, however, with a 4.45 40.

My take:

The first thing I notice is a top three picks without a linebacker among them despite the Raiders with a major need at inside linebacker. It may be uncharacteristic for Reggie McKenzie to take a linebacker this high to play inside, but after years without a playmaker there, it’s time to make it a priority.

Kiper’s right about White being a great pick at 24. He would represent tre’mendous value in a deep cornerback class. The biggest question here is if he will even be on the board when the Raiders pick at 24. I personally like Gareon Conley more, but he too could be gone by then.

Most national draft predictions like to focus on the Raiders’ lack of interior pass rush. And it has caused a great many of them to have the Raiders taking an interior defensive lineman in the first two rounds. I see a couple potential issues with that. First of all, they have taken an interior pass rusher in the second round the past two years (Mario Edwards Jr, Jihad Ward). Second, Kiper mentions ‘an opening’ with Dan Williams cut. Williams is not an interior pass rushing defensive tackle. He’s a nose tackle. Also, based on every draft projection I’ve seen, 56 overall is way too high for Carlos Watkins.

Kiper loves to project the Raiders taking a running back high in this draft. They need a big workhorse back to replace Latavius Murray, so I understand the pick. However, should they get Marshawn Lynch, there would be no need, and since McKenzie took over as GM, he has never taken a running back higher than the fifth round. That’s not to say Kiper projection is far-fetched. It’s possible Lynch doesn’t end up signing and Foreman is the type of back who could fill the role the Raiders need, so I could see the logic there.