Forget about the quarterback position.
The Las Vegas Raiders need to fix the most pressing need: It’s turnstile quality defense. And with the seventh and 38th overall picks in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft, the Silver & Black can get that ineffective unit back on track — quick.
With so many needs on Patrick Graham’s side of the ball, a proper focus would be providing the defensive coordinator more talent when his group is devoid of it. And considering how the draft may fall when teams are on the clock, Las Vegas might be in more prime position at No. 7 to land an impact defender than impact signal caller.
After all, the consensus seems to be a quarterback can’t be successful without a stellar, if not, competent defense. So let’s take a glance at defenders who can help Las Vegas make a defensive turnaround.
Let’s get two defenders out of the way first as they’re likely going to be off the board by the time the Raiders are on the clock, however, you never know how draft projections fall until name are called:
Jalen Carter, Georgia, Defensive Tackle: Listed at 6-foot-3, 310 pounds, Carter moves extremely well and is a double-team candidate every time the ball is snapped. He’s apt at defending the run, collapsing the pocket and smothering the opposing quarterback. His 18.5 career stops for loss and six sacks may not be impressive but speaks volumes about how disruptive he is. Raiders fit: Carter can be plopped right in the middle or moved around the front to take advantage of matchups.
Will Anderson Jr., Alabama, Edge: The 6-4, 243-pound is well-built and generates power and speed with his solid base. He can get around the edge very quickly disrupting things from the jump and with a growing pass rush toolkit, he can become even more effective. His 34.5 career sacks with the Crimson Tide exhibits his pass rush but he’s a capable tackler. Raiders fit: He’d form a formidable one-two pass rush combo with the relentless Maxx Crosby.
Tyree Wilson, Texas Tech, Edge: A bit raw in his technique and toolbox, the 6-6, 275-pound Wilson has the long arms and overall length to keep offensive lineman at bay. He shows a willingness to maintain the edge as well as rushing the passer. His 17 career sacks as a Red Raider seems light, but he’s very moldable. Raiders fit: Long and strong, Wilson can be another disruptive edge for the Silver & Black — a team needing a tag team partner for Crosby.
Bryan Bresee, Clemson, Defensive Tackle: Clemson defensive lineman may dissuade some Raider fans, but Bresee is a stout defender — when available. Durability hurt his collegiate production but he did rack up nine sacks and 15 stops for loss. Raiders fit: Another tackle that can line up on the interior or outside to take advantage of mismatches.
Joey Porter Jr., Penn State, Cornerback: Built for the NFL game at 6-2, 195 pounds, Porter is expected to show off elite speed, too. If he brings that to the table, he’s a prototypical corner who can defend the ever-growing tall and physical receiving options in the pros. Raiders fit: Porter can be CB1 and be a physical matchup in an AFC West littered with quality receivers.
Christian Gonzalez, Oregon, Cornerback: Another prospect with ideal size at 6-2, 200 pound, Gonzalez showed off ballhawk traits this past season. He can run with fleet-footed receivers and is a man-press type corner. Raiders fit: A defense lacking corners that turn and find the ball, Gonzalez can fix that.
Brian Branch, Alabama, Safety: I’ve dubbed this prospect as “The Closer” And that fits the Raiders bill to a T because he’s a younger and physical version of veteran Duron Harmon. He can play in the nickel/slot, is a ferocious tackler, and improved his coverage chops in man and zone. Raider fit: A hard-hitting, instinctive, ballhawk safety is a must-get.
Drew Sanders, Arkansas, Inside Linebacker: A tall and speedy prospect at 6-5, 230, Sanders was used as the middle linebacker and pass rusher and produced with the Razorbacks: 103 total tackles and 9.5 sacks. It was one-year big-time production, however. Raiders fit: An inside linebacker who is tall, rangy, and can rush gives them a stout inside presence at the position.