The NFL Draft certainly got more interesting for the Las Vegas Raiders yesterday. The Carolina Panthers traded with the Chicago Bears for the No. 1 overall pick, pushing another quarterback-needy team — the Panthers — ahead of the Raiders in the draft order. While this was expected, it certainly turns up the heat in the desert.
One could argue that Las Vegas is somewhat in “no man’s land” with the seventh overall pick, as the top four QBs in this year’s draft class could easily be off the board and the same goes for the top two defenders; Alabama’s Will Anderson and Georgia’s Jalen Carter.
So, the Silver and Black could either trade up to get their guy under center or move back and acquire more picks to build out their defense. Both options are on the table and The Athletic’s Vic Tafur and Tashan Reed conducted a mock draft where they took the opposite approach from one another.
Reed had the Raiders sending picks seven, 70, 143 and a 2024 fourth-round pick to the Seattle Seahawks to move up two draft spots and take Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson. Below is Reed’s rationale. In full disclosure, this mock was conducted before Carolina’s trade but is still applicable to Las Vegas’ situation, just swapping the Colts out for the Panthers.
“The Colts [/Panthers] swung a blockbuster deal with the Bears in my mock draft to move up for the No. 1 pick to draft Alabama’s Young and the Texans took Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud at No. 2, so the Raiders’ top two quarterbacks in the draft quickly went off the board. The Cardinals and Bears both drafted defensive players at No. 3 and No. 4, respectively. But with a quarterback-ambiguous team in the Lions set to pick in front of them and a couple of quarterback-needy teams in the Falcons and Panthers right on their heels, the Raiders get aggressive and make Seattle a strong offer to move up to No. 5 to ensure they get their guy.
“Richardson is a physical marvel at 6-foot-4, 244 pounds with a supercharged arm, dynamic speed and special athleticism. Additionally, he made a strong impression on teams from an intangible standpoint in meetings at the combine. He may not be ready to start in Year 1, but he would give the Raiders a quarterback with superstar potential. It’s a risky move, but given star quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert are set to rule the AFC West for years to come, they take a shot on finding one of their own in Richardson.”
Tafur took the other approach, trading back from No. 7 to 11 with the Tennessee Titans for a first-round and a third-round pick in next year’s draft.
“I considered taking Kentucky’s Will Levis at No. 7 after not trading any draft capital to move up, but decided to address the defense and worry about a quarterback later. Witherspoon is a complete player who has great game film and didn’t work out at the combine due to a hamstring injury. ... He was first-team Associated Press All-American and the Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year after breaking up 17 passes with three interceptions and 2 1/2 tackles for a loss.
“He is 6-foot, 181 pounds with length and range and great eyes and anticipation, as all the pass breakups attest. Witherspoon attacks receivers’ hands on deep throws and is also an aggressive and effective tackler. The only knock on him is that he is not a little bigger, but he doesn’t seem to realize that the way that he plays.”
Two rounds later, Tafur had the Raiders selecting Jake Haener out of Fresno State as their quarterback of the future.
So, Raider Nation and Silver and Black Pride community, which scenario would you prefer?
In other Raiders links:
- Brandon Parker and Jesper Horsted re-signed: not exactly the sexiest moves around the league yesterday but both players can offer some depth at positions of need.
- Will Levis film breakdown: our Marcus Johnson dove into the Kentucky quarterback’s tape which I hear doesn’t lie...
- Six free-agent targets: ESPN’s Paul Gutierrez named a few players on the open market the Raiders might be interested in and two of them are soon-to-be former San Francisco 49ers.
- Raiders bring back Netane Muti: the guard was a late-season add and didn’t get any playing time but obviously made an impression on the coaching staff.