We’ve made it. It’s finally NFL Draft week and the extravaganza begins with Day 1 of the three-day event this Thursday.
The Las Vegas Raiders have a silver opportunity to reshape its fortune with 12 selections at their disposal, the first of which is the seventh overall pick. We’re going to see the grind general manager Dave Ziegler and his personnel crew put into all the reporting and scouting.
And we’ll get to see that immediate payoff.
You’ve likely seen all the mock drafts you’d like at this point, so let’s cut to the chase:
No. 7: Jalen Carter, Defensive Tackle, Georgia: Look, if he’s still on the board, it should take the Raiders all of one second to make this pick and call it in. Carter is an absolute wrecking machine on the interior defensive line, one that the Raiders haven’t deployed since Darrell Russell. Arguably the most talented prospect in the 2023 class, Las Vegas shouldn’t hesitate.
No. 38: Hendon Hooker, Quarterback, Tennessee: A capable playmaker with his arms and legs, the Volunteers’ signal caller is poised in a chaotic pocket. Sounds just like everything the Raiders need from the all-important quarterback position. Hooker can develop and learn behind Jimmy Garoppolo with a chance to compete in Years 2 and 3.
No. 70: Luke Musgrave, Tight End, Oregon State: The potential to be a seam-busting pass catcher with ability to stay inline and block, Musgrave can compete right away for snaps on offense. He’s a combo tight end that can become TE1 down the line.
No. 100: Daiyan Henley, Linebacker, Washington State: Excellent quickness at the position with determination to match, Henley is a run-and-chase linebacker who can go sideline-to-sideline with ease. He has the athletic profile to be disruptive in coverage with ascending diagnostic skills.
No. 109: Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson, Cornerback, TCU: Displaying an alpha mentality with the ball production to match, the nephew of Chargers LaDainian Tomlinson sports Silver & Black with extremely high upside to be a physical shadow corner that can tackle, too.
No. 141: Braeden Daniels, Guard/Tackle, Utah: A versatile lineman that has the multiple position skillset the Raiders seek, Daniels can come in and make the fight for right tackle more interesting while serving as a swing option.
No. 144: Andrew Vorhees, Guard, USC: A class stash pick, Vorhees has the production and skillset to be a quality guard in the pros, but a torn ACL tanks his draft projection. The Raiders can develop him as he heals with eyes on Year 2.
No. 174: Marte Mapu, Safety, Sacramento State: Able to line up deep or at linebacker in nickel/sub package sets, Mapu gives the Raiders a versatile and productive defender. He has the size and speed as well as the diagnostic skills that tailor the Silver & Black defense.
No. 204: Derius Davis, Wide Receiver, TCU: Las Vegas is dire need of an electrifying return man and Davis fits the bill and then some. A pure speed prospect that has the ability to leave pro defenders in the dust, Davis has Year 1 impact upside.
No. 214: Jake Witt, Offensive Tackle, Northern Michigan: His elevator may be on the basement level, Witt has the upside for a supremely high ceiling due to his size and athletic profile. Another stash prospect who can develop into a potential starter.
No. 220: Yasir Abdullah, Edge/Linebacker, Louisville: A standup rusher in a 3-4 scheme, Abdullah has the speed and instincts to be an off-ball linebacker in the pros that can drop back, read and react. He’s got excellent speed and can be a rusher in sub packages.
No. 231: Luke Luepke, Fullback, North Dakota State: While he may not be the sledgehammer blocker like incumbent Jakob Johnson, Luepke offers pass-catching ability from the position while developing as a blocker. Like Johnson, though, Luepke is an excellent special teamer.
Silver Lining: It may be difficult to envision both Carter and Hooker dropping down the boards and being available for the Raiders, however, we’ve seen fallers (and risers) in every draft. Day 1 is undoubtedly a pivotal pick, but the rest of the Raiders’ selections will be integral to the process, too. I looked at versatility, competition, and depth with prognosticating picks and the above is a result of that.