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Todd McShay’s preseason draft board could offer clues to Raiders’ 2021 plans

ESPN analyst evaluates top 50 players right now, ahead of the coronavirus-impacted college football season

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JAN 01 Rose Bowl - Oregon v Wisconsin
Jevon Holland
Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

ESPN’s Todd McShay — one of most prominent draft evaluators in the business — released his 2021 draft top-50 board and top 10 prospects at each position on Wednesday.

As usual, it’s dynamite. Check out the full preview here on ESPN+ (subscription required).

While many college football teams will not play this season (or will play a delayed schedule), there will be an NFL draft next spring and the Las Vegas Raiders are already thinking about prospects.

Using McShay’s top 50 list as a guide, we identified some areas that may interest Las Vegas general manager Mike Mayock:

SEC Championship - Georgia v LSU
Tyler Shelvin
Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

Likely targets:
It’s difficult to pinpoint players because of many factors, including what McShay’s top-50 list will look like next April, where the Raiders will be drafting and what their needs will be. But we can take a stab at it.

With many league observers thinking the Raiders will be in the 9-10 win range in 2020, let’s look at some players around the No. 20 range on McShay’s list. There are some names that standout: Oregon safety Jevon Holland (No. 20), LSU linebacker Jabril Cox (21), TCU safety Trevon Moehrig (22) and LSU defensive tackle Tyler Shelvin (23) are players who could fit both a need and be available in the Raiders’ range come next April.

But, again, this is an extremely fluid category.

College Football Playoff National Championship - Clemson v LSU
Trevor Lawrence
Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

The quarterbacks:
The Raiders have been connected to quarterbacks the past two drafts and unless Derek Carr has a spectacular season (and he might), the rumors will revolve around Jon Gruden and quarterbacks again, whether it’s fair to Carr or not. It doesn’t seem to be a great quarterback class at the moment and that might not change much if there is a reduced season. McShay only has three quarterbacks listed in his top 50, but they are high.

Not surprisingly, Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence is the No. 1 overall player on McShay’s list. Ohio State’s Justin Fields is ranked No. 6 and North Dakota State’s Trey Lance is No. 9. I’ve heard the Raiders being connected to all three of these players already. If Carr does falter this season, I could see Gruden trying to get his hands on one of them.

Oakland Raiders v Arizona Cardinals
Johnathan Abram
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The secondary:
The Raiders love to draft players in the secondary. They drafted defensive backs in the first round four times since 2016. The Raiders have a lot of cornerbacks, so I would be surprised if they take a cornerback in the first round next year unless something unforeseen happens. They could look for a safety to pair with 2019 first-round pick Johnathan Abram. Holland and Moehrig are the only safeties on McShay’s top-50 list. Again, I’d keep an eye on these two.

Jacksonville Jaguars v Oakland Raiders
Josh Jacobs
Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images

Clemson, Alabama connections:
The Raiders drafted Alabama players in the first round the past two years (running back Josh Jacobs in 2019 and receiver Henry Ruggs III this year) and they have drafted a total of five Clemson players in the past two years since Mayock has been with the club. There are two Clemson players, Lawrence and running back Travis Etienne (19) and five Alabama players on the list, cornerback Patrick Surtain II (3), running back Najee Harris (33), receivers DeVonta Smith (8) and Jaylen Waddle (11) and linebacker Dylan Mosses (41). Clearly, the Raiders will dig into these players from the programs they obviously trust.