Simply put the Raiders pass rush was terrible in 2018. They recorded a league low 13 sacks and provided no pressure whatsoever. Khalil Mack was traded, veteran Bruce Irvin was cut and Arden Key isn't a 3-down lineman. Tackle Maurice Hurst had a solid rookie campaign and will look to build on it moving forward however they must infuse this group with young talent. If you can’t get after the passer in this days NFL you have a major issue on your hands. Look for them to target this position early with a number of talented linemen projected to go in the first round.
Amari Cooper is gone. Martavis Bryant is suspended, and Jordy Nelson will be 34 when the 2019 season kicks off. Tight End Jared Cook was the only viable option at times last year and even he’ll be 32 in April. There are big time receivers in this draft and the Raiders need to snag one of them. However, we have seen first round picks struggle in recent years due to college footballs shift towards spread systems. Amari Cooper also looked terrible in Oakland early last season before exploding once he was traded to Dallas. But the Raiders have enough draft capital to go after a top guy and help out whoever will be under center next year.
Defense, Defense, Defense. The Raider secondary was among the league's worst last year and could use major upgrades. Karl Joseph is back at safety but it is still unknown who will start opposite to him. Gareon Conley hit his stride late in the year and started to prove that he was worthy of a first round selection but the depth behind him is limited. In a division with the Chargers and Chiefs, they have to be able to slow down the passing game and get guys like Patrick Mahomes and Phillip Rivers off the field.
At Number 4
The dream pick at #4 would be Josh Allen out of Kentucky. At 6’ 4 7/8” and 262 pounds, he’s big, he’s fast, he’s strong, and would immediately fill in a massive void for the Raiders defense who had a 2.6% sack rate, which was worst in the NFL, need to generate pressure. They also allowed opposing quarterbacks a 101 passer rating which ranks 4th worse in the league. The 2018 Southeastern Conference defensive player of the Year and consensus All-American, had 17 sacks and 22 tackles for loss which were both #1 in the SEC. Allen is compared to ex-Raider Khalil Mack, which if the Raiders can nab a player of that caliber and #4, would be in heaven.
Allen might be gone at #4 but this class is so deep at edge rushers that the Oakland would still be fine in drafting Michigan defensive tackle, Rashan Gary. At 6’ 4 3/8 “ and 277 pounds he is comparable to Allen in size. What blew scouts away was his speed with his 4.58 second 40-yard dash which was 1st among interior defensive lineman. Gary and Key would provide two young defensive lineman that can disrupt the run and get to the quarterback. The Raiders would be disappointed in not getting Allen, but Gary is a nice consolation prize.
Number 24 Raiders solidify their defense backfield
The Raiders pick again at #24 and would love if freak receiver Ole Miss receiver D.K. Metcalf were available. Now his stats at Ole Miss were underwhelming (26 receptions, 589 receptions, and 5 touchdowns in 2018), but players aren’t drafted because of their stats. Metcalf measured at 6’ 3”, 228 pounds, and 1.9 percent body fat. He blew away scouts and fellow receivers with a 4.33 40-yard dash. Metcalf screams #1 receiver and would’ve filled the void Amari Cooper left, and given Derek Carr his new favorite target. Unfortunately, Metcalf might of moved himself in the top 10 after his combine, out of the reach for the Raiders at #24.
Once again the Raiders would be ok with a consolation prize of the top corner in the draft in LSU defensive back Greedy Williams. Williams has been consistently ranked as the top DB in this draft and because this draft is so deep in defensive linemen, Williams will probably drop to the later stages of the draft. The Raiders have their own young DB in Gareon Conley and pairing him with Williams will give the Raiders another player that can immediately play and solidly their defensive back field for years to come. Williams came in fast at the combine running a 4.37 40 which was tied for 5th fastest among DB’s, along with measuring 6’ 2”, 185 pounds will give the Raiders a corner who can keep up with the faster receivers in the league. This would be great for the Raiders in a division that houses speedsters like Tyreek Hill.
#27 picks fills receiver void
The Raiders have one last pick at #27 in the first round. If the Raiders had their choice they would solidify their defense and pick up Montez Sweat out of Mississippi State. Sweat like Metcalf, dazzled scouts at the combine with his speed; 4.41 40 unofficial, size; 6’ 6” 260 pounds, and power; 21 reps at the bench press. Those measurements vaulted the Mississippi State product into the top 12 in many draft mock boards after being projected to go in the mid to late first round. Sweat had 30 sacks in his last two seasons combined which would’ve solidified the Raiders front 4, for years to come with Gary, Key, and Sweat hounding quarterbacks.
Unfortunately the Raiders getting Sweat at #27 is just a dream so they will have to fill another need from the state of Mississippi, in wide receiver A.J. Brown. Brown measured at 6’ 0” and 226 pounds which with his size has him projected as a slot receiver. He’s a speedster who ran a 4.49 40, which means he can beat any slot corner or linebacker that will lineup against him. Derek Carr badly needs receivers after Amari Cooper’s departure and Brown would give him a safety blanket to go along with Pro Bowl tight end, Jared Cook.
The Raiders have the most draft capital in this years draft. They envision the three picks in the first round will yield immediate results and improve their team that finished 4-12 into a competitive team for years to come.
The 2019 NFL Draft will be held in Nashville Tennessee, from April 25th til April 27th.