After about a year’s worth of film study, grading and ranking players, the 2023 NFL Draft is officially in the books! The Las Vegas Raiders added nine new players to the roster throughout the draft, and below is a recap of every pick and what role each newcomer will likely play on the team.
Round 1, pick 17: Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech
RD 1 | PK 7 - Raiders: Tyree Wilson EDGE, Texas Tech— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) April 28, 2023
According to the NGS Draft Model, Wilson has the 6th-highest chance to make a Pro Bowl in his first three seasons among edge defender prospects over the last decade (48%). pic.twitter.com/yvINvWFBDa
With Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter, Oregon cornerback Christian Gonzalez and Kentucky quarterback Will Levis all on the board, the Silver and Black opted for 6’6” and 270-pound Tyree Wilson out of Texas Tech.
Wilson is a physical presence on the defensive line who can win with power and his long over 35-inch arms as both a run defender and pass-rusher. He’ll likely serve as the first defensive lineman off the bench as a rookie given his position versatility and could push Chandler Jones for more playing time and/or a starting spot.
Heading into 2024, Jones will be 34 years old and in the last year of his contract which Las Vegas can get out of and only take on $2.4 million in dead cap space—while saving $17 million—with a post-June 1 designation, according to OverTheCap.com. So, it seems like the Raiders’ plan is to have the former Red Raider learn from the 11-year veteran in year one and take over as the starter heading into his second season.
Round 2, pick 35 (via IND): Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame
Notre Dame TE Michael Mayer is heading to the Raiders— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) April 28, 2023
Vegas drafts its replacement for Darren Waller pic.twitter.com/bxxOiMBhqS
The Raiders didn’t wait long to get involved in the second round of the draft. In fact, Josh McDaniels and Dave Ziegler might have gotten a little antsy in their seats as they moved up three spots to take Notre Dame tight end, Michael Mayer. Las Vegas sent the 38th and 141st overall picks to the Indianapolis Colts in exchange for No. 35.
Though he was widely considered the top tight end in the class by the media, Mayer ended up being the third player at his position off the board. The Buffalo Bills traded up a few spots in the first round to select Utah’s Dalton Kincaid 25th overall, and Sam LaPorta of Iowa was taken the pick before Mayer after the Detroit Lions swapped with the Arizona Cardinals in the second round.
That’s likely why McDaniels and Ziegler felt the urgency to move up for Mayer, especially since Luke Musgrave from Oregon State was taken by the Green Bay Packers a few picks later.
The Notre Dame product should be a good fit in McDaniels’ offense as he’s a solid run blocker and a good pass-catcher. He has big shoes to fill after former Pro Bowler Darren Waller was traded away earlier this offseason, but Mayer is a superior blocker and might be a better scheme fit.
Round 3, pick 70: Bryon Young, DT, Alabama
With the 70th overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, the #Raiders selected DT Byron Young. @ByronYoung19 joins the Raiders after spending four seasons (2019-22) with @AlabamaFTBL and becomes the 13th player in Raiders history to be drafted out of the University of Alabama. pic.twitter.com/WuNQuTNhKH— Raiders PR (@RAIDERS_PR) April 29, 2023
Earlier in the third round, the Denver Broncos traded up for Drew Sanders, linebacker from Arkansas, and the Detroit Lions swooped in front of Las Vegas to take quarterback Hendon Hooker from Tennessee. That left the Raiders to address their defensive line again with Alabama defensive tackle Byron Young.
Young was projected to be more of an early- to mid-100s pick, according to NFL Mock Draft Database’s consensus big board, so this was the first reach of the draft for the Silver and Black. However, the Alabama product is a good run defender which is the weakness of the team’s current projected starters, Bilal Nichols and Jerry Tillery, so he could carve out a role as a two-down player in year one.
Round 3, pick 100: Tre Tucker, WR, Cincinnati
With the 100th pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, the #Raiders selected WR Tre Tucker.@1SilkySmooth joins the Raiders after 4 years with @GoBearcatsFB. In 2022, notched a career-high 56 receptions for 672 yards (12.9 avg.).— Raiders PR (@RAIDERS_PR) April 29, 2023
Tucker becomes the 3rd Bearcat drafted by the Raiders. pic.twitter.com/yCQcRJZ647
Las Vegas didn’t particularly need a wide receiver but they rounded out the top 100 picks with one from Cincinnati in Tre Tucker. The former Bearcat is a speed demon who runs a 4.4-second 40-yard dash but lacks size at 5’8 5/8” and 182 pounds.
With Adams, Renfrow, Meyers and Phillip Dorsett already in place, Tucker joins a rather competitive position group and may struggle to see the field much as a result. He’ll compete with Dorsett as the offense’s deep threat, and he does bring value as a returner with 68 kickoff returns for nearly 1,700 yards and two touchdowns during his college career.
Round 4, pick 104 (from HOU): Jakorian Bennett, CB, Mayrland
RD 4 | PK 104 - Raiders: Jakorian Bennett CB, Maryland— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) April 29, 2023
Bennett earned an "elite" 96 athleticism score after he ran a 4.30 40-yard dash and jumped 40 1/2-inches in the vertical at the combine. pic.twitter.com/KVzayq5llW
Ziegler and McDaniels certainly didn’t want to wait long to make a pick at the start of Days 2 and 3 as they traded up again in the fourth round with the Houston Texans. The Raiders sent picks 109 and 174 to the Texans for picks 104 and 203, selecting corner Jakorian Bennett from Maryland with No. 104.
At 5’11” and 188 pounds, Bennett is small but he can fly with a 4.3-second 40-yard dash time. That helps him carry receivers in coverage and while his size will certainly impact his ability to play the run, he’s feisty and has the right mentality to develop and get the job done.
The Terrapin will likely compete with Amik Robertson and David Long Jr. for a backup role in year one, but the veterans are scheduled to be free agents next offseason, so Bennett will likely be the more long-term option. He also has experience playing special teams and earned an 85.1 grade from Pro Football Focus in that department last year.
Round 4, pick 135 (from NE): Aidan O’Connell, QB, Purdue
Accuracy. @BoilerFootball's QB Aidan O'Connell is coming to the Silver and Black! pic.twitter.com/t2kb1Pu60l— Las Vegas Raiders (@Raiders) April 29, 2023
After another trade where the Raiders sent picks 144 and 214 to the New England Patriots in exchange for the 135th selection overall.
Heading into the draft, Las Vegas was expected to add a young quarterback to the roster and they ended up going with Aidan O’Connell from Purdue in the fourth round. O’Connell is an accurate passer who has average arm strength and needs to work on his pocket mobility.
He’ll likely compete with Chase Garbers for the third spot on the roster this year and is a developmental project who could potentially take over for Jimmy Garoppolo in about two years. However, the Boilermaker is probably going to be a career-long backup.
Round 5, Pick 170 (from NYJ): Christopher Smith, S, Georgia
Las Vegas selects Georgia Safety Christopher Smith 170th overall— PFF College (@PFF_College) April 29, 2023
⚫️ Only 1 TD allowed in coverage last season (536 coverage snaps) pic.twitter.com/QGbgpzTxUI
Another trade as the Raiders sent picks 204 and 220 to the New York Jets for No. 170 overall. With the extra selection, Las Vegas added Christopher Smith from Georgia.
Despite his smaller stature at 5’11” and 192 pounds, Smith is an aggressive run defender who isn’t afraid to come downhill. He’s very instinctual in coverage and can make plays on the ball with his anticipation, but his 4.62 40-time shows up in his ability to cover deep routes. Had he logged a faster time, he probably would have been drafted earlier.
The former Bulldog comes into a safety room that lacks top-end talent, so he could compete for playing time white Tre’von Moehrig but will likely serve as more of a backup in year one.
Round 6, pick 203 (from HOU): Amari Burney, LB, Florida
THE PICK IS IN ‼️— Florida Gators Football (@GatorsFB) April 29, 2023
Welcome to the @NFL, @amari_burney! #GoGators | #RaiderNation pic.twitter.com/bP9v86GtAW
For the first time in the head coach’s history, Josh McDaniels has drafted a linebacker! In the sixth round, the Raiders took Amari Burney from Florida a versatile player who is a converted safety. Burney needs to work on his block destruction and man coverage skills, per his profile on The Draft Network, but has impressive instincts for someone who is new to the position. He’ll compete with Darien Bulter, Luke Masterson, Curtis Bolton and Kana’i Mauga for a roster spot this season.
Round 7, Pick 231 (From NE): Nesta Jade Silvera, DT, ASU
With the 231st overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, the Las Vegas Raiders have selected Nesta Jade Silvera. Here’s the official TDN scouting report on the IDL out of Arizona State.https://t.co/IQ1fFf0Nbt#NFLDraft | #RatedRookie | #RaiderNation— The Draft Network (@TheDraftNetwork) April 29, 2023
With their ninth selection of the draft, the Raiders added Nesta Jade Silvera, a defensive tackle out of Arizona State in the seventh round. Per his NFL.com report, Jade Silvera can plug up gaps against the run and play some nose tackle. That means he’ll likely be competing with last year’s fourth-round pick, Neil Farrel Jr. for playing time this season.