Perfect Picks: Las Vegas Raiders
With the NFL Draft approaching we will be looking at each team and evaluating where they need to improve. In this particular series we will run a seven round mock using the Draft Network Mock machine and find the ‘Perfect Picks’ for each franchise.
We will highlight four players that could help each team. This will feature picks 1 and 2, a mid round gem and a late round sleeper.
Despite the lengthy contract doled out to Jon Gruden, it feels like his seat is getting hotter. The same applies for GM Mike Mayock. After a roster overhaul, the Raiders are young but there are already question marks over their recent draft selections. The 2021 NFL Draft could be crucial in dictating the future direction of this franchise.
Round 1 - Pick 17 - Samuel Cosmi, OT, Texas
One of the biggest surprises of the offseason was the impromptu rebuilding of their offensive line by the Raiders. Gabe Jackson and Rodney Hudson were high profile departures but perhaps the biggest loss will be right tackle Trent Brown. His trade to the New England Patriots will leave a hefty hole on the offensive line.
It immediately puts Mike Mayock under pressure to find a replacement. Fortunately this is a strong class of tackles and at this point Texas’ Samuel Cosmi was available. Cosmi’s athleticism was confirmed with a 4.8 second 40-yard dash and 36 reps on the bench press at the Longhorns recent pro day. While he needs to add polish to his game he has the raw tools to step in and start on the right side.
Round 2 - Pick 48 - Jevon Holland, S, Oregon
Oregon’s Jevon Holland was a high profile opt-out from the 2020 season but his versatility and cover ability make him an intriguing prospect. Holland has played in a safety role before manning the nickel spot for the Ducks in 2019. That range means he is strong in coverage (9 career interceptions) and can also drop to play free safety. A solid tackler too, he provides an enticing package. Held back only by him not being truly elite at anything.
The Raiders need to add help to their secondary. While there is bags of youthful talent, the production level has been low. Jonathan Abram was a polarising prospect and had a rough year in 2020. His physicality needs to be offset by a playmaker in the backfield. Holland could be the perfect partner. The Raiders may choose to stick with Jeff Heath initially, but Holland should still find a place in the slot, replacing LaMarcus Joyner.
Mid-Round Gem - Pick 80 - D'Ante Smith, iOL, East Carolina
The Raiders go back to the offensive line with this third round pick. They have confidence that Andre James can develop into their long term center. While re-signing Denzelle Good and Richie Incognito sures up the guard slots. However, at 37 Incognito will not last forever. That means the Raiders can afford to add reinforcement with upside.
East Carolina’s D’Ante Smith is exactly that. At 6’5, 294 he has the developmental potential to be an offensive tackle in the NFL. That could be some way off. While the physical traits are in place, his tape has plenty of sloppy footwork and poor balance. That means, he is more likely to find his way into the starting lineup as a guard after learning behind someone as experienced as Incognito. While the flaws are visible, Smith is pure upside at one of the game’s most valuable positions.
Late Round Sleeper - Pick 162 - Tre Brown, CB, Oklahoma
As alluded to earlier the Raiders need secondary help. Damon Arnette and Trayvon Mullen have had to take their lumps as with most young corners. While they should get the starting berths, added depth is needed.
While the Big 12 isn’t usually a reliable place to find cornerbacks, Oklahoma’s Tre Brown has flashed in the build-up to the draft. Brown was one of the top performing corners at the Senior Bowl. He had an impressive 2020 for the Sooners, allowing a passer rating of only 46.2 when targeted. At 5’10 his small stature will be the biggest barrier to an NFL career. His grit and ability as a slot defender should mean he sticks to a roster somewhere.
Draft in full
17. Samuel Cosmi, OT, Texas
48. Jevon Holland, S, Oregon
79. Cam McGrone, LB, Michigan
80. D’Ante Smith, OT, East Carolina
121. Shi Smith, WR, South Carolina
162. Tre Brown, CB, Oklahoma
167. Malik Herring, DT, Georgia
201. Miller Forristall, TE, Alabama
formerly writing for the inside zone, rory will be breaking down college tape and keeping you up-to-date with all things CFB for the touchdown. an avid bengals fan, you can also find some of rory’s work at stripehype.com.