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2020 NFL mock draft round up 3.0: Pre-combine edition

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NCAA Football: Big 12 Championship-Baylor vs Oklahoma Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

This week the underwear Olympics, also known as the NFL scouting combine, gets underway in Indianapolis. The combine is a great opportunity for prospects to make a case for themselves to rise up draft boards.

There will be plenty of fluctuation between now and April’s draft as teams begin to stack their draft boards. Things that will also change as a result of combine performances are mock drafts. A solid performance can solidify your spot in round one and a mediocre effort can hurt your cause.

Here is a round up of pre combine mock drafts from various draft analyst and websites.

Mel Kiper Jr-ESPN

12. Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama

The Raiders had big defensive issues last season, but in their 1-5 swoon to close out 2019, they scored just 14.7 points per game, which ranked last in the league. So let’s help Jon Gruden’s offense with this pick, then address the defense with the team’s second Round 1 pick (No. 19). Darren Waller emerged as a really good tight end last season, but the Raiders don’t have a true No. 1 receiver. Jeudy, a polished route runner and smart receiver, would instantly become their best pass-catcher. And with a nucleus of Jeudy, Waller and Josh Jacobs, Las Vegas would have one of the NFL’s best young WR-RB-TE combos to help whomever starts at quarterback in 2020.

19. Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma

I’ll stick with a Vontaze Burfict replacement here with Murray, a big and physical inside linebacker who put up gaudy tackle numbers for the Sooners. Jon Gruden loves aggressive defenders, and Murray, a good blitzer with great athleticism, fits the bill. Cornerback is another position to watch for the Raiders, but I should also mention the possibility of Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock packaging their two first-round picks to move up for a quarterback. It’s doable. Las Vegas is a team to watch for quarterbacks in free agency — Derek Carr’s contract won’t prohibit it from moving on if it likes someone else — and in the top 10 of this draft.

Bucky Brooks-NFL Network

12. Jordan Love, QB, Utah State

After watching their division rivals hoist the Lombardi Trophy due to a draft day quarterback gamble that changed the course of the franchise, the Raiders could roll the dice on an ultra-talented prospect with MVP potential.

19. Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma

Swift linebacker with legit sideline-to-sideline range as a run-and-chase linebacker.

Vic Tafur-The Athletic (Athletic beat writer mock draft)

12. Javon Kinlaw-DT, South Carolina

Man, was Jerry Jeudy tempting … but with Simmons gone, we are going to select the next best defensive player available. We are also taking advantage of the unbelievable depth at receiver and will address the Raiders’ biggest need later. Kinlaw is huge — 6-foot-5, 315 pounds — and has an explosive first step and heavy hands. He dominated Senior Bowl practices with his bull rushes, is very coachable and it sure looks like his best football is ahead of him. The Raiders need another impact player in their front seven and one falls to them here. Jeudy is a great route runner, just like old friend Amari Cooper, and he makes plays but the seven drops last season pushed him down to the next tier of receivers — who are all great, just not Top 12 great.

19. Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama

Well, well, well … The other teams were terrified to trade up here after the Raiders dominated the draft last season. The plan was to trade down, add another pick and select whichever receiver was left out of Ruggs, Tee Higgins, Justin Jefferson and Laviska Shenault. They are all that good. But teams turned up their noses at us. Even after Gruden threw in front-row Carrot Top tickets. So, the Raiders took the best of the bunch, Ruggs, who will likely go even higher after he runs under a 4.30 at the NFL combine. His route running improved last season and he can also break tackles now. Gruden gets his Tyreek Hill.

Austin Gayle-Pro Football Focus

12. Laviska Shenault, WR, Colorado

Shenault isn’t a polished route-runner, nor is he a finished product at the receiver position. However, what he lacks in polish he makes up for in size and explosiveness. He is going to turn heads in Indianapolis with his testing at the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine and best projects as a moving chess piece for an offensive coordinator at the next level. Jon Gruden just needs to get the ball in his hands and watch him go to work.

19. Julian Okwara, Edge, Notre Dame

There’s currently not enough hype surrounding Okwara. The 6-foot-4, 250-pound Notre Dame product is a freakish athlete with absurd bend and flexibility that defensive line coaches salivate over at the next level. His technique will require improvement at the next level, but he still earned a 90.4 PFF pass-rushing grade before his 2019 season was cut short due to injury. His pass-rushing grade improved every year of his career with the Fighting Irish.

Drafttek

12. Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama

In 2015, Amari Cooper broke an 11 year drought of 1000 yard receivers. The next year, Cooper and Michael Crabtree surpassed the mark, but no Raider WR has come close since. Enter Jerry Jeudy, who has reached the 1000 yard mark as many times (twice in the last 2 years) as the Raiders have in the last 16. Unquestionably, this is the biggest need on the team, and the only reason WR wouldn’t be taken first is the potential availability of a WR1 at #19 or even below given the draft’s depth at the position. Still, with loftier targets and even potential alternatives like Javon Kinlaw off the board, it makes too much sense for Gruden to land in Jeudy a prospect who could be better - and definitely more long-term - than what they hoped Cooper would be.

19. Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma

If Gruden is disciplined and sticks closely to his public comments, the pick will be Murray or Patrick Queen. I could see a CB here, but it’s time the Raiders take a LB in RD1. Since we’ve covered that extensively, however, what happens if the Raiders go off script? With Oregon standout Justin Herbert still available, would the team jettison the QB who has the 2nd most losses through his first 6 years? While it’s tough to blame the Raiders’ woes on Carr and I prefer the team give him a shot in Vegas, he was woeful down the home stretch last season. For the first time since his rookie season in 2014, he threw for 300+ years only once. There really wasn’t a game Carr “won” for the Raiders, and there were a couple where it felt like his inability to create plays was costing the team the game. If Herbert is there at #12, Gruden will certainly be thinking about a change. If he’s there at #19, Carr might need to call his realtor.

Vinnie Iyer-Sporting News

12. Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama

The Raiders have a glaring need for a top receiver no matter who their QB is, Derek Carr or someone else, in 2020. The Antonio Brown debacle is behind them, but they also need to worry about Tyrell Williams coming off a disappointing season and foot surgery. Jeudy fits the profile as a No. 1 receiver; he is a classic intermediate to deep field-stretcher and smooth drive-finisher in the red zone at 6-1, 198 pounds.

19. Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU

The Raiders need help on the back end after getting consistently burned last season despite some improvements in the pass rush. Fulton (6-1, 192 pounds) has the size, speed, smarts and sound coverage skills to have a long, prosperous career, which is why he felt confident enough to pull out of the Senior Bowl. This is a must-address position for the Raiders, and Fulton has the highest playmaking upside among corners in the draft.