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Mel Kiper takes his turn at a 3-round mock: Change to Raiders top pick has domino effect

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NCAA Football: Big Ten Championship-Ohio State vs Wisconsin Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

It’s fascinating watching how the mock drafts shift in the months leading up to the draft. While just a week ago both Mel Kiper and Todd McShay were in lock step in putting Roquan Smith as the Raiders top pick, now neither of them are projecting that. They’re still in lock step with regard to Smith, but with him going elsewhere.

Tuesday Todd McShay put out his 3-round mock draft. He had Smith going to the 49ers at 9th overall. Today Mel Kiper said the same thing in his 3-round mock.

It’s an interesting way to get around sending Smith to the Raiders after seeming so sure that would be the pick for months. This way they can say they still think the Raiders WOULD pick him if he were there, but he’s not.

While McShay simply shifted to another linebacker — Tremaine Edmunds — Kiper shifted to another position, which means picks in future rounds also change.

Round 1 (10): Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State

Round 2 (41): Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M

Round 3 (75): Oren Burks, LB, Vanderbilt

With Roquan Smith off the board to San Francisco a pick before this one, I’m grabbing my top-ranked cornerback for the Raiders, who got only 89 snaps out of last year’s first-rounder Gareon Conley. I have a higher grade on Ward, a college teammate of Conley’s, who is a better athlete but a little smaller.

Kirk is an explosive slot receiver and return man. He might be off the board here, but he’s a steal if the Raiders can grab him as another weapon for Derek Carr. Burks is a versatile defender who is rising after he ran a 4.59 40 and had a 39-inch vertical jump (among other outstanding testing numbers) at the combine.

In his previous 2-round mock draft, Kiper had the Raiders taking cornerback Isaiah Oliver in the second round. But with him going Ward this time, the second round pick becomes a slot receiver, and the team doesn’t address linebacker until the third round.

In case you were wondering, Kiper has QB’s going 1-4 — Josh Allen, Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Baker Mayfield in that order. Off the board after that are Bradley Chubb, Minka Fitzpatrick, and Quenton Nelson.

Notable players on the board when Raiders pick in the second: CB Isaiah Oliver, WR Courtland Sutton, RB Nick Chubb, OT Brian O’Neill, and OT Orlando Brown.