Sometimes you get the feeling these early mock drafts are designed to give the draft ‘guru’ someplace to go. Like those jobs where they say they give you a low eval score so each new eval the score goes up.
The Raiders were so bad at pass rushing there was more of a distance between them and the next worst teams (17) than actual sacks recorded by the team that season (13) and somehow Mel Kiper has them making three first round picks without taking a pass rusher. Stunning development.
Here are his interesting first round picks for the Raiders which are sure to change several times before the draft.
4. Greedy Williams, CB, LSU
It’s tough to predict what Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock will do with three first-round picks in this class, but fixing an aging defense should be a priority. The Raiders have needs across the board, including at pass-rusher -- they had a league-low 13 sacks in 2018. But with Bosa and Allen off the board, I’ll go with a corner. Gareon Conley came on strong at the end of the season, but there’s a hole across from the 2017 first-rounder. Williams is a big, 6-foot-3 corner with long arms and lockdown potential. The comp I’ve made for him is Aqib Talib.
24. Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma
Can you name the Oakland player with the most receiving targets in 2018? It was ... tight end Jared Cook. And yes, Gruden traded top wideout Amari Cooper, but this roster needs pass-catching upgrades. Brown is going to be one of the fastest prospects in this draft. He can run every route, and he’s tremendous after the catch. Size is the question, as he’s only 5-foot-9, 168 pounds. He is more in the mold of John Ross, who went in the top 10 in the 2017 draft, than a typical No. 1 receiver. But he can be a downfield threat for Derek Carr.
27. Irv Smith Jr., TE, Alabama
I don’t have another Round 1 edge rusher left on my board, so I’m moving on to tight end with the third Raiders pick of the first round. I mentioned Cook earlier, and he’s a free agent, so this is going to be a need for Oakland. Smith had 44 catches and seven touchdowns for the Crimson Tide this season, and he is a really good player. He needs to improve as a blocker, but I expect him to test well at the combine. The Raiders have a ton of cap space, so they also could address the position in free agency.
Notes: So, he has them starting at arguably their strongest position and finishing at the position he himself just noted had their number one receiver. Ok, Mel. We’ll see.