The NFL Draft will begin on April 28th and the Oakland Raiders are looking to build on a 12-4 season. However, they still have more than a few team needs.
Thus far, Oakland has been relatively quiet in Free Agency. The Raiders signed backup quarterback E.J. Manuel, kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson, offensive tackle Marshall Newhouse and linebacker Jelani Jenkins. They still have a variety of needs to fill before the season begins. Here is a complete seven-round NFL Mock Draft for the Oakland Raiders.
First Round (24): Zach Cunningham, Linebacker, Vanderbilt
Vanderbilt linebacker Zach Cunningham brings the ideal size and production that you want in an NFL linebacker. For Oakland, there are some questions about his speed and scheme-fit.
Nonetheless, the Raiders can not pass on Cunningham if he falls to them in the first round. Cunningham brings the versatility to play in at the inside or outside positions. He most naturally fits as a weakside linebacker in a 4-3 defense, but he played everywhere at Vanderbilt. Oakland could make him into an inside backer if he learns to take on blocks better.
Another linebacker like Jarrad Davis might get some consideration here. The Raiders may even consider drafting a good corner or running back that slides here. Ultimately, Cunningham is the safest pick for the Oakland Raiders to make in the first round of the NFL Draft.
Second Round (56): Desmond King, Safety, Iowa
Production wise, King registered 14 interceptions in the final three seasons of his collegiate career. That is the playmaking ability the Raiders want in their secondary. Despite ranking in the bottom ten of pass defense last season, the Raiders were among the NFL’s best defenses at creating turnovers. Therefore, King fits that mold.
The Oakland Raiders would be smart to consider any of the top safety talents which could fall into their hands in the second round. Either way, King makes a ton of sense for the Silver and Black.
Third Round (88): D’Onta Foreman, Running Back, Texas
A foot injury has been the only thing preventing Texas running back D’Onta Foreman from elevating his NFL Draft status. The Raiders should consider the former Texas running back as they need another big back to replace Latavius Murray. Murray bounced via free agency, and Oakland has two smaller backs in Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington at the top of their depth chart.
Foreman would be an ideal compliment to both of those sophomore runners. Foreman led the NCAA in rushing yards last season, and he could compete for the Raiders’ starting job next season. At the very least, Foreman could use his big body and low running style to become an immediate short-yardage threat for the Raiders.
Foreman does come with his questions about durability due to his use and weight at Texas, but he is the physical runner that the Raiders need. There are other backs like Jeremy McNichols and Kadeem Hunt who could get some consideration here. However, Foreman’s production makes him an ideal fit for the Oakland Raiders.
Fourth Round (130): Julie’n Davenport, Offensive Tackle, Bucknell
Bucknell offensive tackle Julie’n Davenport brings the size and athleticism that a team wants in their starting offensive tackle. The Oakland Raiders could find a steal if he is available in the fourth round. Davenport’s biggest knock is the level of competition that he played against at Bucknell, but that is not his fault. Again, he has the size and mobility that makes him a worthy gamble.
The Raiders need someone to emerge as a consistent starting right tackle, and they need to start grooming Donald Penn‘s replacement at left tackle. Hence, Davenport would be a welcomed developmental depth player at either tackle position.
Fifth Round (168): Vincent Taylor, Defensive Tackle, Oklahoma State
At this point in the NFL Draft, every player is a gamble due for one reason or another. Oklahoma State defensive tackle Vincent Taylor does not have a lot of questions in his game. He tested well at the Combine and he has a ton of production from college. However, a deep defensive class in this draft could make Taylor get overlooked.
He registered 12 sacks over his final two seasons. He would be an ideal replacement for last year’s starter Stacy McGee, who bounced in free agency. Taylor brings pass rushing ability for the Raiders’4-3 looks, but he also has the frame to play in a 3-4 defense. Therefore, Oakland could find a steal by drafting Taylor in the fifth round.
Sixth Round 208: Shelton Gibson, Wide Receiver, WVU
West Virginia receiver Shelton Gibson could bring the Raiders the deep threat that they need at the receiver position. Questions about his concentration when catching the ball, size and route running allow him to fall this far in the draft.
However, the Raiders have Seth Roberts and Cordarelle Patterson battling for the third and fourth receiver spots. That gives Gibson some time to develop. Otherwise, Gibson also brings value as a return man.
Seventh Round (242): George Kittie, Tight end, Iowa
Iowa tight end George Kittie was productive in his final season at Iowa, despite playing for a run-heavy offense. He also ran a 4.52 40-yard dash which could make him a sleeper receiver in the NFL.
Thus, Kittie would be a perfect tight end to develop behind blocking tight end Lee Smith. The Raiders may seem set at the position as they signed cook in free agency, but Kittie is the perfect developmental tight end.
Seventh Round (244): Lewis Neal, Edge, LSU
LSU edge Lewis Neal brings production that warrants a selection in the NFL Draft. His 11.5 sacks over the past two seasons, make him worth a look in training camp. The Raiders finished last in sacks last season, so they need to add pass rush. Moreover, Neal could play end or linebacker in the league. This is the versatility that the Raiders like.
Ultimately, there is still plenty of time until the NFL Draft. It is impossible to predict what will happen, but this Mock Draft addresses the Oakland Raiders’ roster needs as they head into April.
[Featured Image by Michael Conroy/AP Images]