We are a little more than 24 hours away from the start of the NFL Draft with the first round beginning at 5:00 p.m. tomorrow! As promised, I’ll be around for about an hour to answer any last-minute questions you have about the Las Vegas Raiders ahead of the draft. Drop your questions in the comment section below and I will reply as well as pull a few highlights up into the body of the article.
To get the conversation going, we’ll start with a few questions from last night’s post.
Question: I am hoping the Raiders draft a CB in the first round, I prefer they draft a DL in the second round. Can you rank the following players: Mazi Smith, Adetomiwa Adebawore, Keeanu Benton. And if they are all gone by pick 38 who is the next DL that you would select? Moving on to the third round, target is a LB. If Trenton Simpson, Jack Campbell and Daiyan Henley are all gone by pick 70 who is the next LB that you would select? Thx
Answer: For the defensive linemen you mentioned, I’d rank them in the following order: Adebawore, Smith and Benton, and all three have pretty similar grades from me.
Adebawore is a physical specimen who ran a 4.49 40 at 282 pounds and that shows up on his tape, his technique just needs a lot of work. Smith is in a similar vein as he was Bruce Feldman’s top freak heading into the season, but he’s not consistently dominant on the field as you’d hope. Benton is intriguing to me because he was primarily a nose tackle at Wisconsin and can plug up gaps against the run but didn’t offer much as a pass rusher. Then he went to the Senior Bowl and played more as a three-technique and showed off a few nasty pass-rush moves that makes me think he has the potential to grow there in the NFL.
The other defensive tackle that I really like is Siaki Ika out of Baylor. I wrote about Ika in the article below if you’d like to dive into his game.
This linebacker class is tough as there isn’t a ton of talent within the class. Outside of the three you mentioned, I like Drew Sanders out of Arkansas but I doubt he’ll be there at pick 70. That leaves Noah Sewell from Oregon as the next-best backer, who I like against the run but would be a liability in coverage.
Auburn’s Owen Pappoe is my sleeper in this class, but I’m much higher on him than most so he’d be a better target with pick 100.
Q: Out of Ika, Turner, Ojomo, Pickens, Dexter, and Brooks, which DT(s) should/will the Raiders target around picks 70/100/109?
A: I like Ika and Gervon Dexter at pick 70 as both have great size and could be space-eaters in the middle against the run. The rest would be better targets for the latter two picks and below is how I would rank them.
1) Zacch Pickens: a good run defender who showed potential as a pass-rusher during the Senior Bowl.
2) Moro Ojomo: traits galore with 34.5-inch arms and athleticism that shows up on tape. His technique is a work in progress but I like him a lot with the 100th pick.
3) Kobie Turner: one of “my guys” in this year's class and a sleeper in the fourth round, in my opinion. He can be disruptive against the run and pass, he’s just all over the place consistency-wise right now.
4) Karl Brooks: to be honest, I don’t really get the hype about Brooks. I think he benefitted from poor offensive line play in the MAC and by rushing from the edge, so I don’t feel like his college production will transfer over to the pros, especially on the inside. He’s more of a fifth-round guy in my eyes.
Q: Why have we not been linked to Murphy more at 7? I know you have him higher on your list of DL guys than a lot of people, but if Wilson has been linked to us as much as he has why haven’t we heard much about Murphy?
A: Honestly, I think my colleagues are overthinking Myles Murphy, and the NFL will be higher on him than the media is. He’s not a finished product but in a class that’s full of projects, I’ll bet on the guy who runs a 4.53 40 at 270 pounds being able to put it together. I’m not sure if the Raiders will take him at seven, but I think Murphy goes higher than a lot of people are expecting him to.
Q: Which teams are the most realistic first-round trade-back scenarios?
A: Titans at 11, Washington at 16 and Bucs at 18 would be the most realistic to me based on how many resources/assets they have to trade.
Q: List some players Raider Nation should be mad/disappointed/irate at if the Raiders take them in the first round. AKA who should the Raiders avoid in the first. It can can be at 7 or some other spot if they trade up or down.
A: Ooof! I don’t want to speak for the entire fanbase, but I think people would be upset with Peter Skoronski from Northwestern just because they need so much help on defense and he projects best as a guard. Will Levis would probably draw the biggest negative reaction, though.