After a rather underwhelming free agency period for the Las Vegas Raiders, head coach Josh McDaniels and general manager Dave Ziegler will turn their attention to the NFL Draft. Thus, that will be the theme of this week’s mailbag as Raider Nation has plenty of questions about the direction of the franchise.
If you’d like to have your questions answered in a future column, tweet them at me, @MHolder95, or email them to SBPQuestions1@gmail.com.
Question: Biggest risers and fallers in this year's draft? Recently it seems Will Levis’ draft stock has dropped but maybe not on the NFL side?
Biggest risers: Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson, Iowa edge Lukas Van Ness and Texas Tech edge Tyree Wilson.
I think the reason Richardson is a riser has been beaten to death over the last several weeks, so I won’t waste your time re-hashing what everyone else has already said. However, make sure to check out my film room article on Richardson that dropped yesterday!
Van Ness might be literally the biggest riser in this draft class. He didn’t make a start in college but now is getting love as a potential top-15 pick. He also crushed it at the NFL Combine with a 9.38 RAS score and is one of the better power rushers in this draft class. However, his pass rush plan is bull rush, bull rush and then bull rush some more, so I’d like to see him expand on that and he has plenty of traits to do so.
Wilson began the season as a second-round pick and has steadily been on the rise to the point where a few mock drafts have slated him ahead of Alabama’s Will Anderson Jr. I still think Anderson will be the first non-quarterback off the board, but the Texas Tech product’s size (6’6” and 270 pounds) and power are going to be hard to pass up. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s the Raiders' pick at No. 7.
Fallers: Kentucky quarterback Will Levis, Clemson defensive tackle Bryan Bresee and Army edge Andre Carter II.
Daniel Jeremiah is one of the most plugged-in draft analysts out there and had Levis going 18th overall to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in his latest mock draft. I think Richarson’s rise and teams — like the Raiders — who might be looking at drafting quarterbacks found one in free agency has more to do with Levis’ fall than anything he’s done. He’ll be 24 in June and just doesn’t have the upside that the other young signal-callers have.
I’m still a believer in Bresee but it does seem like he’s sliding down the board in mock drafts. From what I’ve seen, he’s been landing in the 20s or 30s which is a fall from grace seeing as he was getting top 10 or 15 love earlier in the process. Ultimately, the Tiger has just missed too much football over the last two years and is still too raw.
Carter was a guy who I was really excited about when I watched him over the summer. He didn’t perform as well this past season which was the start of his slide, and he has less-than-ideal testing numbers with just a 6.11 RAS score. He’s gone from a late first-rounder to someone who will probably hear his name called in the late second or third round.
Q: How would you feel about passing on one of the top QBs and instead drafting one later like Fresno State’s Jake Haener?
A: I think this is what will probably happen as McDaniels talked about this being a deep class in Indianapolis, and Levis will likely be the only top quarterback available with the seventh overall pick. I don’t hate this strategy, but I’d rather see them load up on defensive players this year and then go after one of the top quarterbacks in next year’s class.
The thought of them drafting someone like Haener or Stanford’s Tanner McKee in the middle rounds this year and then passing on a top prospect next year frightens me. Sure, they could draft both if the opportunity presents itself, but that guarantees one of those quarterbacks is a wasted pick. Draft picks are always a gamble but at least if you take two guys who play different positions there’s a chance both are a hit.
Q: What would it cost for the Raiders to move to number #3 in the draft? Think that gives the Raiders a viable QB solution.
A: Per the famous NFL Draft Pick Value chart, the third pick is worth 2,200 points and the seventh is 1,500 points so the Raiders would have to come up with 700 points to make up the deficit. Below are a few ways they can do that with their picks this year.
Package 1: Picks 7 (1st round), 38 (2nd, 520 points) and Pick 70 (3rd, 240 points)
The Cardinals might have to sweeten the deal here with one of their later picks to balance the equation since the Raiders would be losing 60 points of value. This would also mean, barring another trade, the highest Las Vegas would be able to draft a defensive player is with the 100th pick of the draft.
Package 2: Picks 7, 38, 100 (3rd, 100 points), 109 (4th, 76 points)
The biggest difference between these two packages is the second gives up more picks but keeps the higher third-rounder. Still, not drafting a defender until pick 70 is risky and there isn’t a trade package that exists without this year’s or next year’s second-round pick. Giving up the 2024 second is enticing, so that will depend on how they view the depth of this draft class.
Package 3: Picks 7 and 100, and a player
The first player that came to mind was Hunter Renfrow as speculation has been brewing that he might get dealt since the beginning of the offseason. However, the Cardinals already have plenty of smaller/slot-type receivers in Rondale Moore and Marquise Brown. The other guy I thought of was Josh Jacobs...
Including the rushing champ could decrease the price of the second pick involved in the trade, and Arizona could use a running back like Jacobs. Las Vegas has plenty of backs in the stable to use a committee approach next season, so if they can’t get a long-term deal done with Jacobs, might as well get something back for him. Of course, losing him would be a big hit, too.
Q: If both are available at 7, who do you think the Raiders take, Oregon corner Christian Gonzalez or Kentucky quarterback Will Levis?
A: Gonzalez. I think the reason the Raiders didn’t sign a corner in free agency is they’re going to draft one early on. Gonzalez is long and can run — measured in at 6’1” and some change and ran a 4.38-second 40-yard dash at the combine — and he has good ball skills with four interceptions and 7 pass breakups last season at Oregon. He could be the No. 1 corner they need, and Levis is too much of a project for a 24-year-old, in my opinion.
Q: Does Josh McDaniels truly believe he has enough leash to not win again in 2023?
A: I went into more detail on this last week so check the link below for my full answer, but in short, yes. Mark Davis has proven to be more patient with head coaches than his father, and I think he believes in McDaniels’ vision. When Mark said he thought McDaniels was doing a “fantastic job” when the team was 2-7, that’s all I needed to hear about McDaniels’ job security.
Q: If the Raiders do draft a QB at 7, how many games until he starts?
A: Well, that kind of depends on how long Jimmy Garoppolo can stay healthy, but I’ll assume you’re talking about an ideal situation where he maintains a clean bill of health.
Ideally, not until 2024. I think the best scenario for the Raiders would be what happened with Patrick Mahomes and Alex Smith for the Kansas City Chiefs. Mahomes made a spot start as a rookie during the final week of the regular season when the Chiefs had the playoffs locked up, and then he took over the reins the following year as Smith was traded to Washington.
I think that’s the exact situation Las Vegas is hoping for with Garoppolo’s contract, it’s just a matter of if they find the quarterback in this year’s draft or next year’s.
Q: What could be the reason the Raiders move on from Hunter Renfrow? Doesn’t fit the scheme?
A: I think there is a world where Renfrow and Jakobi Meyers can function together in the same offense. As many other people have pointed out, McDaniels has put together offenses that used two slot receivers like Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola, and both guys got their fair share of touches in New England.
However, why Renfrow’s scheme fit has come into question is he likes to run a lot of option routes and do a lot of moving and shaking during the stem phase of the route to get open. He almost freelances a bit and that was why it took a bit for him and Derek Carr to establish a connection.
It took longer for them to build chemistry because Carr wasn’t sure where Renfrow was going to be or how long it would take Renfrow to get to his spot. Once they got to know and play with each other more, it started to become more natural. The problem is, that doesn’t fly with McDaniels.
McDaniels wants receivers to run their routes a specific way and not to deviate from the directions they’re given. He’s kind of rigid in that regard and that’s not when Renfrow is at his best so that’s where the scheme fit questions come into play.
The other reason Renfrow could get traded is his contract. If he’s dealt before June 1 — say during the draft next month — the Raiders would save about $5.8 million in cap space this season, per OverTheCap.com. If they trade him after June 1, the savings jumps up to about $11.9 million.
Considering Davante Adams is making a lot of money and so is Meyers, the extra cap space could be intriguing, and remember, a portion of unused cap space is rolled over to the following offseason.
Does that mean Renfrow is on the move? Not necessarily, but the economics of a trade has to be enticing for McDaniels and Ziegler.
Q: Do you really think that Raider fans are going to sit around and stomach a Raider team losing once again? You have a coach who has never had a winning season as an HC, was abysmal in game management, has a lockerroom believing he doesn’t listen and works them too hard, and is doing his damnedest to break any kind of chemistry through mismanagement of personnel that they may have. His method of bringing in New England players has never worked with any other coaches from the Belichick tree. I have asked Levi Edwards this same question without an answer. Why do you think McDaniels will succeed in lieu of these realities stated above? I am a 50-plus-year Raider fan and not a hater. This is the first year that I have zero confidence. This is going to be a s*** show once again. Should I go on? 5 double-digit leads turned into losses, NFL records, horrible injury rate, could it be his coaching philosophy? Please stop feeding us fans BS and call it like it is. Long-term building my ass. The freaking Jags managed to get to the playoffs after being one of the worst teams in the league.
A: I thought about shortening/summarizing this question but I wanted everyone to get the full experience because it’s just too funny. Ironically, I’ve had people in my Twitter mentions getting upset with me over the last two weeks for being too negative, and apparently, I’m too positive for this person. LOL!
As they say, if you can’t make everyone happy, piss everyone off. By the way, I have no idea if that’s an actual saying but feel free to use it and just give me credit to feed my ego!
I do want to make sure I make one thing clear, though. When I was talking about the Raiders’ rebuilding plan last week, it was an attempt to explain what they are trying to do and not a declaration of whether or not they’ll be successful at it.
I’m far from a McDaniels fan, but I highly doubt he’s trying to self-sabotage the Raiders. So, I’m not quite sure how this person would have liked me to explain what’s going on, but again, can’t make everyone happy.
As far as Raider fans not wanting to stomach another losing season, I wouldn’t blame anyone for being pissed off and considering taking the next year off in a sense. It’s been 20 years of rebuild after rebuild with a couple of one-off playoff appearances mixed in, so fans have every right to be angry and sell their tickets or what have you. I get the sentiment of not wanting to give your money to an organization that can’t seem to figure it out.
To answer the question of why McDaniels will be able to succeed given his miserable resume, I don’t have an answer for that and will say that I’m skeptical of his “plan” too. There’s a good chance he fails and the only reason to believe in him is to have blind faith. Again, I don’t blame you for not buying into that and I’m not that confident in McDaniels either.
If that “BS” doesn’t satisfy your tastebuds, then sorry but this chef doesn’t take special orders! For the record, Doug Pederson was my first choice to be the Raiders’ head coach last offseason so I’m glad we can find some common ground with the Jaguars!
That’ll do it for this week’s mailbag. Thank you all for submitting questions and, as your weekly reminder, if you’d like to have your questions answered in a future column, tweet them at me, @MHolder95, or email them to SBPQuestions1@gmail.com.