On the clock: Las Vegas Raiders draft preview

Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Holding the No. 7 pick might put general manager Dave Ziegler in no-man’s land as the Las Vegas Raiders attempt to build a better defense to contend with the monsters of the AFC West.

Changes came in waves for the Raiders with the release of Derek Carr in February followed by retaining running back Josh Jacobs and signing wide receiver Jakobi Meyers (Patriots) in free agency to catch passes from new quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.

Ziegler and head coach Josh McDaniels can address the offensive line early or direct their attention toward needed defensive upgrades. With 12 picks, the Raiders appear to be planning to trust the scouting staff to score a few hits in the middle rounds.

Las Vegas remains connected to quarterback prospects, including Alabama’s Bryce Young, who visited in April after Florida’s Anthony Richardson and Kentucky’s Will Levis were in Sin City. Given Garoppolo’s injury woes in recent years, he’s not likely viewed as the long-term solution despite familiarity with McDaniels and Ziegler from their days in New England.

DE: Maxx Crosby had a Defensive Player of the Year-type of season in 2022, leading the NFL with 100 quarterback pressures (per Pro Football Focus). He did it without much consistent push from bookend Chandler Jones.

CB: If defensive end/pass rush is the top need in Las Vegas, consider cornerback and playmakers in the secondary need 1-B.

OT: Kolton Miller mans the left side, but the right tackle position is a mystery at the moment. With Garoppolo — or a rookie — taking snaps, a strong running game and stronger pass pro are priorities.

Round Pick (Overall Pick)
1. 7 (7)
2. 7 (38)
3. 7 (70)
3. 37 (100)
4. 7 (109)
5. 6 (141)
5. 9 (144)
5. 39 (174)
6. 27 (204)
6. 37 (214)
7. 3 (220)
7. 14 (231)

1. Georgia DT Jalen Carter: Power and push up the middle from Carter would make him a gamechanger for Las Vegas. Opponents would be strained to keep Crosby and Carter out of the backfield consistently.

2. Illinois CB Devon Witherspoon: A breakout player in 2022, the heady and versatile Witherspoon was a chess piece for Bret Bielema and the Fighting Illini. Healed from a winter hamstring injury, Witherspoon erased any doubt about his upside with a 4.39-second 40 at his April pro day.

3. Tennessee QB Hendon Hooker: One of six quarterbacks the Raiders met with multiple times before the draft, Hooker is already older than Steelers 2022 first-rounder Kenny Pickett and coming off of ACL surgery. That’s part of why he’ll be available between picks 25-38, and in reach for the Raiders if they miss out on the top-ranked players at the position.

–Field Level Media

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