As Jon Gruden’s first draft as head coach of the Oakland Raiders nears, he and GM Reggie McKenzie have many holes to plug despite being active in free agency. Off-season acquisitions so far have been headlined by Jordy Nelson, Rashaan Melvin and Tahir Whitehead, and although the last two bring in veteran depth, cornerback and speed at linebacker are still areas that need addressing through the draft.
With a potential rush of quarterbacks in the top picks, there is a good chance that a top prospect in a position of need will be available at 10.
LB Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech
Edmunds will have barely turned 20 when the season rolls around, but is seen as one of the most exciting prospects at linebacker due to his potential for development and physical traits. A rare combination of height (6 foot 5 inches), speed (4.54 40 yard) mean he is adept at both stopping the run as well as dropping into coverage, and would be a perfect fit in the fluid 4-3 defense that new defensive coordinator Paul Guenther is expected to use.
LB Roquan Smith, Georgia
If Edmunds is off the board at 10, the Raiders could do a lot worse than selecting Georgia’s Roquan Smith, who is projected to excel playing as a weakside linebacker in a 4-3 NFL defense. Smith, who won the Butkus award for being the best linebacker in college football last year, is an excellent run stopper with the ability to drop into coverage, and may be a safer pick than Edmunds due to his level of college experience and football instincts. However, at 6’ 1” his size may limit his ceiling in the NFL.
CB Denzel Ward, Ohio State
The top corner on most boards, Ward had an excellent combine that included a 4.32 40 yard dash. Despite being somewhat undersized at 5’ 10”, Ward was a physical corner in college and could be able to translate that to NFL, and could also excel as a nickel corner. Despite the pick up of Rashaan Melvin via free agency, the Raiders could do with getting younger at CB. Corner has been a position of weakness for the past few years and the addition of Ward could cause a 180 as Oakland gets a chippy, physical outside future No.1.
OT Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame
With Donald Penn suffering injuries in 2017 and a weakness on the right side of the line, McGlinchey has the potential to start on the right and move to the left later in his career, having played both positions during his college career with the Fighting Irish. Keeping the Derek Carr clean will be important if he is to have a bounce back year, and McGlinchey will provide an upgrade to the offensive line.
DE Marcus Davenport, UTSA
The second ranked DE on most draft boards, Davenport is an elite physical specimen at 6’ 6”, 264lbs with the potential to add weight. Not the most explosive off the edge, Davenport has potential to develop and paired opposite Khalil Mack would have the chance to perfect his skills, especially use of his hands, and learn from the best. Davenport with give a much needed boost in athleticism for a Raiders front seven that bar Khalil Mack has been poor in recent years.
Follow @declanmaher_ on twitter!
Raiders Draft Targets