Ahead of the 2023 NFL Draft, I took a look at Josh McDaniels’ previous draft classes and noted a few trends. So, now that the Las Vegas Raiders 2023 draft class is officially set in stone, I figured it’d be time to see which of the five trends still hold and which ones McDaniels broke.
1) McDaniels has always selected an offensive lineman in the 3rd- or 4th-round
To the surprise of many, the Raiders did not draft an offensive lineman this year. The team definitely needs some help up front, especially at guard, but they opted to pass and address other spots on the roster with their nine picks. However, they did add McClendon Curtis, a guard from UT Chattanooga, as an undrafted free agent.
Currently, Las Vegas’ interior starters will likely be Dylan Parham, Andre James and Alex Bars, the same three they went with for the majority of last season. Netane Muti, Jordan Meredith and Curtis will have a chance to compete for one of the starting guard spots while Hroniss Grasu will likely serve as the backup behind James.
One change that could throw a wrench into those projections though would be if Thayer Munford can beat out Jermaine Eluemunor as the first-string right tackle, pushing Eluemunor inside.
2) McDaniels likes to double or triple down at the same position
Personally, I expected the Raiders to double up at a couple of different positions like cornerback, but they only did it at one, defensive tackle. In the third round, they added Alabama defensive lineman, Byron Young and then rounded out the draft with Arizona State’s Nesta Jade Silvera in the seventh.
Young will have a chance to compete for a starting spot in training camp while Silvera can add some depth as both players bring a level of run defense that the position group was missing ahead of the draft.
So, this trend still holds but it wasn’t nearly as dramatic as it could have been.
3) McDaniels has only drafted two defensive ends
This observation was notable as the Silver and Black were rumored to be interested in Texas Tech’s Tyree Wilson, who they ended up taking seventh overall. Wilson becomes the second defensive end McDaniels has drafted in the first round with the other being Robert Ayers. In the 2009 draft, Ayers was the 18th overall selection, and he enjoyed a nine-year career with 35 career sacks.
As for Wilson, he’s expected to begin his rookie campaign behind Chandler Jones but could ascend up the depth chart quickly with a strong showing in training camp and/or the beginning of the year.
4) McDaniels has never drafted a corner taller than 6-feet
Since Jakorian Bennett—the only corner McDaniels drafted this year—stands just under 5’11”, this trend still holds. The Raiders had plenty of opportunities to flip the script, including in the first round with Oregon’s Christian Gonzalez, but they ended up staying the course with Bennett in the fourth.
Interestingly enough, of the 10 corners currently listed on the roster only two are above six feet, Nate Hobbs (6’1”) and Brandon Facyson (6’2”). McDaniels clearly has a type at the position and that’s good news for the short kings of the NFL!
5) McDaniels has never drafted a linebacker
We were very close to this trend holding up after the draft as the Raiders did draft a linebacker but not until the sixth round and their second to last pick of the draft. Florida’s Amari Burney came off the board with the 203rd overall pick and became the first linebacker the team’s coach has ever drafted.
Burney also walks into a pretty favorable situation for a sixth-rounder. Las Vegas’ linebacker corps is pretty weak, so he has a good chance to make the 53-man roster if he can beat out Curtis Bolton or one of last year’s undrafted free agents, Luke Masterson or Darien Butler.
The Gator might also be in a position to make a start down the line if Divine Deablo or Robert Spillane get banged up. Obviously, that’s a hyperbolic situation but the point is the position group is wide open.