As we all know, the Raiders have three first-round picks in this April’s NFL Draft. The latter two were acquired via trade, but the Raiders’ abysmal 4-12 record secured them the fourth overall pick. The team has plenty of holes to fill on both sides of the ball and Pick #4 brings with it a variety of options to help fill those holes.
Of course, much of this depends on where the Raiders decide to focus in free agency, and who they can get to sign with them. If they can get, say, JaDeveon Clowney, then edge rusher becomes less of a priority. The Raiders have lots of money to spend, and their impending move to Las Vegas could be attractive to free agents.
But for this list, let’s assume free agency does not exist. How do the various options in this draft stack up?
1) Edge Rusher
The Raiders traded the best edge rusher in football before the 2018 season, but there are plenty of DE/OLB guys in this draft who could help fill that role and not cost a hundred million dollars. Nick Bosa of Ohio State is the best prospect, but he has had a concerning injury history. Despite that, he’s routinely been mocked to the Cardinals with the top overall selection. His Combine performance and medical report will have a lot to do with how much of a risk he’s perceived to be. Bosa clearly has the bloodline, with brother Joey already a star for the Chargers.
Josh Allen, a DE/OLB for the Kentucky Wildcats, is also one of the top guys on the board. He’s the guy who most resembles Khalil Mack with his ability to force turnovers and stop the run and pass equally well. He can also drop back in coverage and has some skills in that regard.
Also an option is Clemson DE Clelin Ferrell, who was instrumental in the Tigers’ victory over Alabama in the college football championship game and was a monster all season long. Rashan Gary of Michigan is a physical freak, but wasn’t extremely productive in college. Pairing him with former teammate Maurice Hurst could be an intriguing option for the Raiders.
2) Interior Defender
There are plenty of options here as well. This draft is stacked with quality defensive tackles. Quinnen Williams is the top DT on the board, and some consider him the best player available in the entire draft. He dominated interior offensive linemen all season long and is a physical marvel.
Louisville’s Ed Oliver was at one time considered the top player available, but he fell down mock draft boards as the season went on due to some lingering health concerns. Still, he can take on double and triple teams and make an impact.
Mississippi State’s Jeffrey Simmons has been climbing draft boards lately, and at 6’4” and 300 pounds he has the ability to disrupt plays in the backfield with his superlative size and speed. I’ve seen him mocked to the Raiders at number 4.
3) Trade Down
The nightmare scenario is this, and frankly I think it’s exactly what’s going to happen. Bosa goes first to the Cardinals, Williams goes to the 49ers, and Josh Allen goes to the Jets. What do the Raiders do then? Take an edge guy or a DT who is a reach?
Luckily for the Silver and Black, there are several intriguing quarterback options on the board that teams might want to move up for. Kyler Murray, Dwayne Haskins, and Drew Lock are the top guys in what is probably a fairly weak quarterback class. The top four teams in the draft don’t need a QB (unless you are totally off the Derek Carr train), but there are plenty of teams drafting later who do. The Dolphins, Broncos, Giants, Jaguars, and Indigenous Persons could all do with an upgrade. There are only so many blue-chip QB prospects to go around, and someone’s going to want their guy. When Heisman winner Murray eschewed baseball, it threw everything into flux.
So, say the Raiders trade down a few spots. They can still get a quality edge rusher like Ferrell or Gary at a much better spot and also pick up a few picks for their trouble. Remember what the Chiefs paid for Patrick Mahomes, and what the Bears paid for Mitch Trubisky. The Broncos are said to be in love with Drew Lock, what if they’re scared of not getting him and being stuck with Case Keenum for another season? What if the Dolphins really want Murray? What if the Jaguars think Haskins is going to the Giants, and want to prevent that from happening? Hell, what if the Buccaneers decide they’re through with Jameis Winston? Even in their nightmare scenario, the Raiders are still in the driver’s seat.
And by linebacker, I mean Devin White. I would not be shocked in the least if White comes out and blows away the Combine with his size, speed and instincts. He’s been compared to some of the best linebackers ever, and if the Raiders think he’s the next Ray Lewis then by all means they should take him at fourth overall. It’s not like the team has a long-term answer at middle linebacker.
White won’t help the team with edge rushing, but he can be the team’s anchor for a decade as a stopper in the middle. This pick would be far more palatable if the Raiders sign a good defensive end or two in free agency, and also CJ Mosley from the Ravens. Let’s hope the Raiders spend wisely and get their guys on the open market so they are free to be flexible come Draft Day.
So, what would you like to see the Raiders do at the fourth pick?
What should the Raiders do with the #4 pick in the draft?
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