Barring a trade, the Raiders’ first selection of the NFL Draft will be Day 2 of the No. 86 pick in the third round.
History has shown that there is plenty of top talent in this place and beyond. So while the Raiders head into the draft determined to rack up the best players available to each of their five picks, there are needs at the offensive line, cornerback, linebacker, safety and defensive tackle levels. .
Here’s how we see their draft unfold:
Third Round No. 86
Mentality: The Raiders are adamant that they’ll embrace a best-player-available mentality when their draft rounds roll around, so don’t be surprised where they’re headed. The good news is that the depth of this draft seems to match some of their most pressing needs – offensive line and cornerback come to mind – so there could be a marriage between BPA and need.
Three players to watch with this pick are Michigan center tackle Luke Goedeke, Memphis guard Dylan Parham and CB schemer Tariq Woolen from the University of Texas-San Antonio.
The Pshit: Abraham Lucas, RT, Washington State
Comment: A four-year starter at right tackle, Lucas will have to make the transition from assist-laden Washington State — 2,195 of his career snaps have come on pass protection plays — to the more balanced NFL. He needs work in the racing game, which is why his consent to a starting position might be a bit delayed. But all the physical and mental traits are there for the 6-foot-6, 315-pounder to successfully transition and become the long-range answer to the right tackle.
Fourth Round No. 126
Mentality: The Raiders have a tricky situation at cornerback, where presumed starters Trayvon Mullen and Rock Ya-Sin and key replacement Anthony Averett can all leave as free agents at the end of this season. On the one hand, it will create an opportunity to work his way into new contracts, but it could also force the Raiders to replace several players in this position in 2023.
So it’s imperative that the Raiders protect themselves by adding a development corner, and this could be where they do just that. Some players to watch are Alontae Taylor (Tennessee) and Akayleb Evans (Missouri) and CB’s Mario Goodrich (Clemson).
The Pshit: Joshua Williams, BC, Fayetteville State
Comment: At 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds, Williams was one of the fastest top speed prospects in the Senior Bowl, clocking a top five 21.75 miles per hour. He’s also shown he can hold his own against some of the top prospects at big schools.
Williams’ low-school pedigree means he faces some fundamental adjustments and development early in his NFL career, but the ceiling is too high to pass up at this stage of the draft. The Raiders don’t need him to play immediately, so there’s plenty of time to put him on a track that will eventually produce either a top-caliber player or a key reserve.
Fifth round n° 164 and 165
Mentality: With consecutive fifth-round picks at 164 and 165, the Raiders could put together a package to advance to the fourth round, or use them as leverage in a compromise scenario. The Raiders have had great success in this round recently – Hunter Renfrow and Nate Hobbs were impact players from day one – and they will be looking to strike gold again.
Choice: Marquis Hayes, G, Oklahoma; Sterling Weatherford, South, Miami, Ohio
Comment: Hayes is a projection choice, because right now his physical traits trump his technique and fundamentals. But the body and power are NFL caliber, so he has the traits to eventually become a potential starter or replacement. Weatherford is a physical and experienced tackle machine who could find himself at linebacker. He also has special teams traits and could have an immediate impact in this phase of the game.
Seventh Round No. 227
Mentality: In addition to immediate special teams help, the Raiders will seek high-end development prospects who may eventually emerge as starters or rotations at this point in the draft.
To take: Aaron Hansford, LB, Texas A&M
Comment: Hansford has an advantage as a prospect who, with the right setting, could end up being an NFL starter. At 6-foot-3 and 239 pounds, he has sideline-to-sideline speed and is a willing and effective tackler. There are some diagnostic and awareness wrinkles that need ironing out, but more playing experience and NFL-level coaching can potentially fix that.