Linebacker NaVorro Bowman and the Oakland Raiders are in a Mexican standoff now. So it looks like the Raiders will see who they get in the draft before deciding on him. Meanwhile, the media is shoving Roquan Smith and-or Tremaine Edmunds down our throats with most mock drafts out there sending one of the two prospects to the Raiders.
At No. 10 overall in a couple of weeks, the Raiders need to hit with a game-changer. And there are no assurances either Smith or Edmunds will be that as a MIKE. Free agent signee Tahir Whitehead cannot be trusted in coverage on passing downs.
Smith can, to go with his instincts and ability to chase the ball down all day. But his tape against Oklahoma showed that you can run right at him as Brett Kollmann pointed out. Edmunds has size and length to go with great athleticism to chase and cover. But he doesn’t have the best instincts, which get him to the ball a little late at times.
There will be a few prospects at other positions that are more of a sure bet at No. 10 overall.
Genard Avery from the University of Memphis is a prospect flying under the radar that has played well at the MIKE. The 6’0”, 248-pounder could be a viable option and is projected as an early Day 3 pick.
He is known for his physicality on opposing offensive lineman and ball-carriers in the run game. A look at Evans on tape shows you he flies around and makes plays just like the projected 1st-rounders. His whopping 22.0 of tackles for loss compared to 14 apiece for Edmunds and Smith show he’s quite the playmaker. He also leads the other two prospects in yards gained per tackle at 3.3 compared to 3.85 for Edmunds and 4.81 for Smith.
Avery has versatility as he lined up on the edge for much of the time at Memphis. Scouts just aren’t high on him because they aren’t sure about his ability to cover. But his 4.59 40-yard dash and 6.9 3-cone drill showed that he has coverage potential.
Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther, a former LB coach, could help him master MIKE position and all of it’s responsibilities as that would be all he plays in the NFL. He helped tighten up Vontaze Burfict’s coverage skills and he ran a 5.09 40 at his combine.
Smith is the flashiest of the prospects with his 4.51 40 speed and coverage ability but 4.81 yards per tackle is concerning. Edmunds is a freak at 6’5”, 253 pounds with 4.54 40 speed and coverage ability. His yards per tackle is also better at 3.85 but No. 10 may be too high for a guy that takes a while to find the ball at times. Avery allowed just 3.3 yards per tackle and just showed his athleticism is right on par with the others at 4.59.
His abilities give him just as much of a chance if not more than the others at the MIKE. So the Raiders could wait until Day 3 like general manager Reggie McKenzie usually does and end up with a gem while picking the best player available beforehand.
Anything that involves bringing back Bowman, who balled last year, is still the best option. Coming in and balling while helping Avery develop would be huge. This is just to show you Raiders could get their need on Day 3 while getting that game-changer at No. 10. His tape against No. 5-ranked UCF shows the raw ability and motor he has for Guenther to work with.