With the 2023 NFL Draft officially in the books, the Las Vegas Raiders added nine players to the roster which, obviously, has a significant impact on the guys who were already on it ahead of this weekend’s marathon. Below are the players who were impacted the most by the Raiders’ picks with our winners and losers column.
WINNER: Jimmy Garoppolo
Heading into the draft, there was a chance the Raiders targeted a quarterback in the first round to put Jimmy Garoppolo’s successor in place which could have expedited his exit from Las Vegas by a year.
The team even had a chance to draft Kentucky’s Will Levis in the first round and Tennesse’s Hendon Hooker in the second round, but they waited until the fourth to add Aidan O’Connell from Purdue. O’Connell’s ceiling is rather low and he doesn’t pose much of a threat to Garoppolo’s status as the starter, increasing his odds to hold that spot for two seasons.
Even if the Raiders target a quarterback early next year, Jimmy G could get an extra season as the bridge starter while the rookie sits whereas that timeline moves up had the front office been more aggressive this past weekend.
LOSER: Chandler Jones
While there is a world where Chandler Jones and Tyree Wilson can be on the field at the same time in 2023, it’s hard to ignore the fact the Raiders spent the seventh overall pick on a defensive end. Tossing in that Jones is now 33 years old and has an out in his contract that would give the team $17 million in cap relief next offseason, per OverTheCap.com, doesn’t exactly bode well for his future with the club, either.
With Wilson now lurking in the background, the pressure is on for Jones to have a bounce-back season after an underwhelming campaign last fall. Otherwise, his days with the Silver and Black are numbered, if they aren’t already.
WINNER: Divine Deablo
Linebacker was another spot the Raiders were expected to address earlier in the draft, however, they opted to wait until the sixth round with the 203rd pick overall to take one in Amari Burney from Florida. That’s good news for Divine Deablo who would have faced stiffer competition to maintain his starting spot had Las Vegas targeted a backer sooner.
Instead, the team gives Deablo a vote of confidence to a certain extent as he enters a pivotal third season. He was a solid run defender as a rookie but struggled in coverage and needs to get healthy after ending last season on injured reserve, so it’s time to put it all together and stay on the field to build his case for a contract extension.
In a way, Robert Spillane can be lumped in as a winner, too.
LOSER: Austin Hooper
When Austin Hooper first signed with the Silver and Black, they had just traded Darren Waller to the New York Giants and it looked like Hooper was going to be the team’s No. 1 tight end for the season. However, not only did Josh McDaniels and Dave Ziegler spend a second-round pick on another tight end, they traded up to get one of the best players at the position in the draft.
Michael Mayer is more than capable of taking over as the starter in year one, pushing Hooper down the depth chart. McDaniels does like to use a lot of two tight end sets, so it’s not as if he won’t have a role, but his stock has certainly dropped and that’s not ideal for a player on a one-year deal. O.J. Howard can be lumped into this group, too.
WINNER: Tre’von Moehrig
Tre’von Moehrig undoubtedly had a rough second season in the NFL to the point where many people felt the Raiders would be in the safety market during the draft. But, they didn’t address the position until the fifth round with their third-to-last pick of the weekend.
Christopher Smith II is a good player who could push Moehrig, but he slipped down draft boards because he lacks long speed and had a poor 40-yard-dash time at the combine, meaning Smith might struggle as a deep safety.
That’s Moehrig’s strength and it has to be a confidence boost to know the club didn’t use a Day 1 or 2 pick on his potential competitor/replacement. Like Deablo, the third-year pro heads into a pivotal season.
LOSER: Phillip Dorsett
Las Vegas’ receiver room was already pretty tight before the draft, and while they might have overdrafted Tre Tucker from Cincinnati, spending a third-round pick on another wideout has to make the veterans in the room feel like they’re sardines.
Tucker is a speed receiver who can stretch the field with his 4.4 40-time, which is what Phillip Dorsett’s role is expected to be this season. With Davante Adams, Hunter Renfrow and Jakobi Meyers rostered the Raiders do have room for a burner on the outside but probably only one.
The former Bearcat also brings value as a returner while the veteran does not. Dorsett’s contract is also only for one year and carries no dead money, so the pressure is on him to have a strong training camp.
WINNER: Alex Bars
Despite starting for most of the season, Alex Bars struggled in 2023 which made guard a big need for the Silver and Black this offseason. However, they didn’t sign anybody during the first wave of free agency so they opted to re-sign Bars toward the end of the month and that kind of felt like a ‘well, I guess we don’t have anyone else’ type of move.
Fast forward to this weekend, rumors started to swirl ahead of Thursday night that the Raiders might take offensive lineman Peter Skoronoski out of Northwestern, who many feel has a future as a guard. Not only did the front office pass on Skoronski but also they didn’t spend a single pick on an offensive lineman.
Barring a change between now and the end of July, Bars should enter training camp as the team’s starting right guard, for better or worse.
LOSERS: Bilal Nichols and Jerry Tillery
We’ll end with a two-for-one as the two starting defensive tackles, Bilal Nichols and Jerry Tillery, heading into the weekend will now be competing against each other in training camp.
Nichols and Tillery are both better pass-rushers than run defenders and have cheap contracts that the team can get out of if they want to. Meanwhile, Byron Young and Nesta Jade Silvera are both strong against the run, and Young was a top-75 pick who could earn a spot with the first stringers in camp. That would put the loser of the battle between the two veterans on the chopping block.