In one of my mailbag columns ahead of the NFL Draft, someone asked how often it is that a prospect who was one of the Las Vegas Raiders’ Top 30 visits actually ends up joining the team. It was a fair question seeing as there are a lot of smokescreens sent out by teams through the media during draft season that it can be difficult to determine what pieces of information are and aren’t notable. However, I didn’t have an answer to the question.
So, since we have some time between now and the start of the season, I figured it’d be a useful exercise to circle back on the players who reportedly visited Las Vegas and see which ones ended up joining the team. Below is a list of said prospects compiled using a combination of CBS Sports’, Walter Football’s and NFL Trade Rumor’s trackers as well as some commentary on a few notables.
Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia
Drafted: 9th overall, Philadelphia Eagles
Carter’s visit was highly publicized after The Athletic’s Vic Tafur reported that the Raiders weren’t considering him at No. 7. Tafur went as far as following up on his column with a Tweet that the team’s brass will leak a conflicting report soon, and then they hosted Carter for a visit. Seeing as Las Vegas passed on the former Bulldog for another defender, my gut says this one was all smokescreen and the organization was worried about tipping their hand ahead of the draft.
Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
Drafted: 4th overall, Indianapolis Colts
As expected, Dave Ziegler and Josh McDaniels did their homework on this year’s quarterback class, meeting with seven of them during the Top 30 visits. Even though they didn’t draft one until the fourth round and passed on everyone but Bryce Young, CJ Stroud and Richardson, there was no smokescreen when it came to these reports. Their meetings were likely to cross guys off the list or be prepared for a scenario where one of the Top 3 QBs slid on draft day, the latter just didn’t happen.
Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
Drafted: 33rd overall (2nd round), Tennessee Titans
I do think the Raiders were at least somewhat interested in Levis or at least wanted to meet with him to get to know him more/do more homework. Who knows how that meeting went, but the team opted to take Tyree Wilson over Levis and try their luck with either Aidan O’Connell or one of next year’s signal-callers.
CJ Stroud, QB, Ohio State
Drafted: 2nd overall, Houston Texans
Hendon Hooker, QB, Tennessee
Drafted: 68th overall (3rd round), Lions
Byrce Young, QB, Alabama
Drafted: 1st overall, Carolina Panthers
Aidan O’Connell, QB, Purdue
Drafted: 135th overall (4th round), Raiders
O’Connell might be the best cause for why fans should pay attention to who comes in for Top 30 visits. Leading into the draft, the speculation was that the two later-round quarterbacks the Raiders were interested in were Fresno State’s Jake Haener and Stanford’s Tanner McKee as both met with the team’s brass at various points during the process. However, neither Haener nor McKee had a Top 30 visit with the Siver and Black while O’Connell did.
Jaelyn Duncan, OT, Maryland
Drafted: 186th overall (6th round), Titans
Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State
Drafted: 32nd overall (2nd round), Pittsburgh Steelers
Jordan Howden, S, Minnesota
Drafted: 146th overall (5th round), New Orleans Saints
Brian Branch, S, Alabama
Drafted: 45th overall (2nd round), Detriot Lions
Kelee Ringo, DB, Georgia
Drafted: 105th overall (4th round), Eagles
It’s interesting that Las Vegas met with several defensive backs but didn’t end up drafting any of them, Ringo being the most notable, in my opinion. His athletic profile leads to some potential position versatility, playing either safety or corner, but Ziegler and McDaniels passed on him several times throughout the draft. It made sense for them to have some interest in Ringo, however, they drafted his teammate, safety Christopher Smith II, and cornerback Jakorian Bennett instead.
Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland
Drafted: 24th overall, New England Patriots
Another situation where the Raiders didn’t end up taking this player but ended up drafting someone from the same school who plays a similar position (Bennett). Granted, Banks was never going to be a Top 10 pick so this visit might have been a situation where the team’s brass was doing their homework in case he falls into their laps later in the draft, or if they ended up trading back in the first round.
Tre Hawkins, CB, Old Dominion
Drafted: 209th overall (6th round), New York Giants
Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College
Drafted: 22nd overall, Baltimore Ravens
While the Silver and Black did end up drafting a wide receiver in the third round, Flowers’ visit always felt like a weird smokescreen. Maybe they were trying to be prepared if he fell to the round two, but even that felt strange as wideout was far from one of the team’s top needs, especially after signing Jakobi Meyers in the offseason.
Tyree Wilson, DL, Texas Tech
Drafted: 7th overall, Raiders
Part of the reason why no one was surprised that the Raiders took Wilson with their top pick is that they met with him nearly every step of the way during the pre-draft process. It was pretty clear he was on the team’s radar and they likely wanted to take every opportunity to check on his injured foot. So, in the future, I’d pay close attention to prospects who visit Las Vegas and have a potential medical concern as that likely means the team is at least interested in them.
Jake Witt, OT, Northern Michigan
Drafted: 236th overall (7th round), Colts
Byron Young, EDGE, Tennessee
Drafted: 77th overall (3rd round), Los Angeles Rams
Zach Charbonnet, RB, UCLA
Drafted: 52nd overall (2nd round), Seattle Seahawks
Daiyan Henly, LB, Washington State
Drafted: 85th overall (3rd round), Los Angeles Chargers
Many people, myself included, expected Ziegler and McDaniels to target a linebacker much earlier than they did as they didn’t draft one until the sixth round. However, Henly was the only backer to spend a Top 30 visit with the club, so maybe that was our sign that Las Vegas wasn’t prioritizing the position.
D.J. Johnson, EDGE, Oregon
Drafted: 80th overall (3rd round), Panthers
Jammie Robinson, S, Florida State
Drafted: 145th overall (5th round), Panthers
Dorian Thompson-Robinson, QB, UCLA
Drafted: 140th overall (5th round), Cleveland Browns
Keion White, DL, Georgia Tech
Drafted: 46th overall (2nd round), Patriots
Nesta Jade-Silvera, DT, Arizona State
Drafted: 231st overall (7th round), Raiders
This one flew under the radar as there typically isn’t much pre-draft hype surrounding seventh-round picks. It’s hard to glean much from Sivlera’s visit, but he does help skew the numbers as to why fans should pay attention to the Top 30s.
Of the 25 Top 30 visits listed above (not all visits get reported), three ended up becoming Raiders. While that number may seem pretty low, it does account for about 33 percent of the team’s draft class which is significant seeing as 259 players in total got picked this year and each team can only host a little less than 12 percent of them. Also, it’s clearly worth keeping an eye on which positions are frequently coming into town.