It would be difficult for a mock draft to be more ill-advised than the initial ESPN Mel Kiper mock was for the Raiders, as he had them taking ZERO pass rushers with their three first round picks. The next ESPN mock from fellow draftnik Todd McShay suffered the same problem, but the newest mock from Kiper more accurately shows the direction the Raiders should go in during this April’s draft.
The first three picks in Kiper’s mock were, to nobody’s surprise, Nick Bosa, Josh Allen and Quinnen Williams. Kiper doesn’t project trades, so here’s who the Raiders got with their picks.
4. Rashan Gary, DE, Michigan
After trading away Khalil Mack before the season, the Raiders’ pass rush was abysmal in 2018, putting up a league-low 13 sacks. Expect coach Jon Gruden and new GM Mike Mayock to target a pass-rusher with one of their three first-round picks. Gary (6-6, 283) has some versatility to kick inside and play tackle, but he has a high ceiling as an end. When he’s locked in, he can dominate a game.
24. Byron Murphy, CB, Washington
We know that Jon Gruden loves playmakers -- I heard him talk about them for years. And Murphy is one of the best defensive playmakers in this class, a ball hawk who had seven interceptions over two seasons at Washington. There’s a gaping hole at corner across from 2017 first-rounder Gareon Conley, too. This could be a first round full of defensive additions for the Raiders, who have picks at 4, 24 and 27.
27. Brian Burns, OLB, Florida State
This match is all about helping the Raiders improve their pass rush, as the 6-foot-5, 235-pound Burns is a pure speed edge rusher. He needs to get a little bigger, but time in an NFL strength and conditioning program should help. If you’re keeping track here, this means I have Oakland getting two edge rushers and a cornerback with its first-round picks. That’s a strong haul.
I have my reservations about each of these picks, as I don’t necessarily think Gary is a great value at pick 4, and I also don’t think cornerback is as big an issue as some people do. I also think Brian Burns is the same type of player as current Raider Arden Key, but at the 27th pick he’s almost certainly the most talented player on the board and he knows how to get to the quarterback. Taking two talented pass rushers would certainly help get the Raiders back on the right track.