While what the Las Vegas Raiders will do during the NFL Draft at the end of the month is Raider Nation’s primary concern at this point, it’s also vital to keep tabs on the enemies and see how the rest of the AFC West might attack the draft.
Needs: offensive tackle, wide receiver, edge
2023 Picks: 21 (1st), 54 (2nd), 85 (3rd), 125 (4th), 156 (5th), 200 (6th), 239 (7th)
Needs: offensive tackle, wide receiver, tight end
Needs: edge, offensive tackle, interior offensive line
Raiders, pick 7: Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois
Will Anderson Jr., Anthony Richardson, Christian Gonzalez and Tyree Wilson were the four players selected ahead of Las Vegas’ pick, leaving Jalen Carter available and it was really tempting to go with Carter there. However, I mentioned that I don’t think he’s worth the risk in my recent mailbag column, so I’ll stick to my gut and go with the position of greater need.
An argument could be made that Witherspoon is the best cornerback in this year’s draft class. He led the Big 10 with 18 forced incompletions last season, according to Pro Football Focus, and could be the No. 1 corner the Raiders are looking for.
Chargers, pick 21: Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College
It was tempting to take Utah tight end Dalton Kincaid here, but Los Angeles needs a field-stretching wide receiver more than a tight end, in my opinion. Flowers brings that to the Chargers' offense with his 4.42-speed and would complement Keenan Allen and Mike Williams well.
Chiefs, pick 31: Dawand Jones, OT, Ohio State
It sounds like Jawaan Taylor is going to make the switch from right tackle to left with his new team, and Kansas City lost both of their starting tackles in free agency, leaving them a need on the right side. Darnell Wright was already off the board so the Chiefs take the second-best right tackle in the draft class to protect Patrick Mahomes.
Raiders, pick 38: Will McDonald IV, EDGE, Iowa State
The top two guards, Florida’s O’Cyrus Torrence and TCU’s Steve Avila, were off the board early in the second round, so I went with more of a best-player-available approach. McDonald IV is an excellent pass-rusher but needs to add size and strength before he’s ready to become an “every-down” player. However, he won’t need to start right away with Chandler Jones in place, and the Cyclone would take some of the pressure off Maxx Crosby on passing downs.
Chargers, pick 54: Daiyan Henley, LB, Washington State
Kenneth Murray hasn’t worked out and is about to enter a contract year, and the Chargers lost Drue Tranquill in free agency. While Eric Kendricks was brought in to replace Tranquill, Kendricks is on just a two-year deal and turned 31 in February. Henley gives Los Angeles a good coverage linebacker and he won’t have to start right away if they feel he needs to add size and strength to be a better run defender.
Chiefs, pick 63: Andre Carter II, EDGE, Army
Kansas City needs to get Chris Jones some help as a pass-rusher which is what Carter II can bring in year one. His run defense is a major work in progress, but George Karlaftis and Charles Omenihu can take care of the early downs while the Army product serves as a situational rusher.
Broncos, pick 67: Karl Brooks, DL, Bowling Green
While Denver replaced Dre’Mont Jones with Zach Allen, they’re still going to be missing Jones’ pass rush production. That’s where Brooks comes in, who tied for the second-most pressures (69) among FBS defensive linemen last season.
Broncos, pick 68: Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson, CB, TCU
While Patrick Surtain II emerged as a future star this past year, the Broncos could use more cornerback help outside of him. K’Wuan Williams enters his age-32 season and a contract year, so Hodges-Tomlinson could be Williams’ replacement in the slot while also giving Denver the flexibility to play him outside if need be.
Raiders, pick 70: Tanner McKee, QB, Stanford
The mock draft machine must have been in my head as the player I wanted to draft here was Illinois safety Sydney Brown, however, the Los Angeles Rams swooped Brown up the pick before. Instead, the Raiders get a quarterback who they can develop over the next two years. McKee will sit behind Jimmy Garoppolo and newly-signed Brian Hoyer for at least a season.
Chargers, pick 85: Luke Schoonmaker, TE, Michigian
The theme of this draft for the Bolts is getting Justin Herbert more weapons and that’s what they do here by adding Schoonmaker. He can be a seam-stretcher with his 4.63-speed and Gerald Everett is about to play on a contract year.
Chiefs, pick 95: Kayshon Boutte, WR, LSU
To me, Boutte feels like a typical Chiefs pick. He got a lot of hype over the summer as the potential top wide receiver in this draft class, but then he seemingly fell out of favor with the new coaching staff at LSU and his draft stock took a major hit. Kansas City has had no issues drafting wideouts with red flags in the past, and they can use one after losing JuJu Smith-Schuster and Mecole Hardman in free agency.
Raiders, pick 100: Jammie Robinson, S, Florida State
After missing out on a safety with their last pick, Las Vegas adds one later in the third round. Defensive coordinator Patrick Graham will love Robinson’s versatility, having taken 633 snaps in the box, 759 as a deep safety and 1,348 covering the slot during his college career.