In the immortal words of Shania Twain:
“Looks like we made it, look how far we’ve come my baby”.
We’re just under two weeks until Roger Goodell puts the Arizona Cardinals on the clock to open the 2019 NFL Draft. Over the last four weeks, I’ve put together mock drafts for all of the AFC West teams. There’s hope in those for franchises, fans and players alike. Soon, all the talk will be over and we’ll find out how truly wide of the mark everyone’s thinking has been.
Before then, I bring you my final mock draft for the AFC West.
The Oakland Raiders are, perhaps, the most exciting and anticipated team in this years draft.
It’s a far cry from the dark days of early fall last year. Khalil Mack had been shipped to Chicago. Amari Cooper was shown the door to Dallas. There was a struggle to find a home for 2019. Derek Carr and Jon Gruden were seen screaming at each other on the sideline. Questions were being raised of Carr’s toughness. They struggled for points and struggled to win. Reggie McKenzie found out the tough way that the NFL is a results business and was relieved of his duty as GM.
It was with the announcement of his replacement that the excitement for this year’s draft process began to build.
Mike Mayock Leads Oakland Turnaround…
Mike Mayock, the NFL Network’s premier draft analyst, was chosen for one of the most difficult jobs in the sport. There is no better man to lead them in to a draft where they are armed to the teeth with top 50 picks.
The turnaround is already underway before we even get to the draft. Gruden and Mayock have turned two mid round picks in to the best receiver in the game.
The signing of Antonio Brown from Pittsburgh has been one of the major story lines of the NFL off-season so far. For me, it’s an absolute bargain. To land the best receiver in the game, for a third and fifth round pick, is fantastic business.
It’s not just Antonio Brown that Oakland have added either. There has been a great overhaul of the roster in the past month or so. They have added linebackers Brandon Marshall and Vontaze Burfict. Highly rated safety Lamarcus Joyner and left tackle Trent Brown were big name free agency acquisitions. There have been additions at most key areas of need.
So, what will the Oakland Raiders do when they are put on the clock in Nashville? Below is my seven round plan to address a number of remaining needs and some grabs that I think would be just too good to miss.
Round 1 – Pick 4: Josh Allen – EDGE – University of Kentucky
Let’s keep it simple here. The Raiders need a pass rusher and Josh Allen is a pass rushing monster. There are college quarterbacks who will be seeing Josh Allen in their nightmares for the rest of their days. What an incredibly productive season he’s had for the Wildcats this year. They were one of the early fairy tale stories of this last season and Allen was a massive part of that. He has all the assets you need to be a premier pass rusher in the NFL. His productivity has steadily grown throughout his college career, which points to him not having reached the ceiling of his capability yet.
There is a growing theory that if the Cardinals take Kyler Murray, and the 49ers take Nick Bosa, then the New York Jets will look to trade out of pick three rather than take Josh Allen. It’s a stance that I just don’t understand but if it means that he drops to the Oakland Raiders at number four, I’m fully on board with it. Philip Rivers, Patrick Mahomes and Joe Flacco better watch out come September!
Round 1 – Pick 24: Noah Fant – TE – Iowa
Jon Gruden loves a tight end. Currently the Oakland Raiders have four on their roster but don’t let that fool you. If Noah Fant is still on the board here, I can see them pulling the trigger.
Fant started the 2018 college football season as the darling of Iowa. He was the highest rated tight end on most draft boards and considered a top ten prospect. Unfortunately for him, he shared the limelight at Iowa with team mate TJ Hockenson. As such, his productivity, in terms of touchdowns, took a dip and so did his draft stock. However, an exceptional showing at the combine appears to have redressed the balance. He’s a consistent, all round tight end, who will make a difference as a target for Carr and as a blocker too. I can’t wait to see Noah Fant as a day one starter in the league.
Round 1 – Pick 27: DeAndre Baker – CB – Georgia
Once upon a time, DeAndre Baker was the number one cornerback on a lot of draft boards. Landing him at number 27 would be a pipe dream come true for the Oakland Raiders. Since then, a disappointing combine performance and a some character concerns have seen his draft stock plummet. There is even mutterings in media circles of him falling out of the first round.
However, the Raiders have a need at corner and the tape on Baker proves his worth. Playing for Georgia in the SEC, he has experience of playing against quality opposition and of playing in big games. He is one of the better cover corners in this class, and has given up just one touchdown in his entire college career. He will be a clear upgrade to a defensive back room that suffered massively at times in 2018.
Round 2 – Pick 35: Nasir Adderley – S – Delaware
I love Nasir Adderley. He is going to be easily the highest drafted FCS level player this year. Coming from that level, his performance through the draft process would be critical and he has excelled in it. Gruden and the Raiders had first hand experience of working with Nasir at the Senior Bowl and he was particularly impressive there.
Raiders fans, what are you getting? You’re getting a hard hitting, high motor, high intelligence impact starter. In addition to being an excellent safety, Adderley has also seen time at cornerback and made big plays on special teams too. You should be very excited.
Round 4 – Pick 106: Joe Giles-Harris – LB – Duke
With the addition of Burfict and Marshall, linebacker has dropped down the list of priorities for the Oakland Raiders in my opinion. However, they still need to address the need for the future. In Joe Giles-Harris, they find a player that could be a little more immediate future than you’d think in round four.
He suffered an MCL injury in 2018 which throws up immediate red flags for teams which is why he is still available here. Giles-Harris is the sort of player that you would expect to find in the silver and black. He’s an aggressive player, with great physicality. In addition to this he has a great ability to read the game. He will be a great addition to the team and can only learn from spending time around two veterans of the game.
Round 5 – Pick 140: Devin Singletary – RB – FAU
Originally, I had Singletary pegged as a round 4-5 prospect as he came out of college. I had been impressed in games that I had watched, particularly a Friday night game at UCF, but thought playing at the C-USA level wouldn’t elevate him to the earlier rounds. Then momentum began to build around him. His stock appeared to be rising through the process, to the point where many analysts had him in their top three running backs.
However, a less than impressive combine performance saw Devin’s stock fall again. I would still be surprised to find him available at pick 140, but if he is then the Raiders have to take him. What he lacks in overall top end speed, he makes up for with elusiveness. The big stumbling block for Singletary will come in the passing game. He saw very few catches at college level and that aspect is becoming more and more a part of the professional game. If he can learn that aspect quickly then he can make an impact in the league.
Round 7 – Pick 218: Hunter Renfrow – WR – Clemson
With the addition of Antonio Brown, alongside several other wide receivers, there is no need for the Raiders to go out and reach for a wide receiver early in the draft. With two seventh round picks, and most major needs taken care of, why not take a luxury pick here.
What a luxury Hunter Renfrow is too. If you don’t know Renfrow’s story then you don’t have even a passing interest in college football I’m afraid. From un-recruited out of high school, to a National Championship with Clemson, he is the ultimate fairy tale. It feels like he has been playing football forever, but doesn’t turn 24 until December. He isn’t the flashiest wide receiver, he isn’t the best wide receiver, but he is a consistent pair of hands and a reliable go to guy. While Brown is terrorizing the secondary, find Renfrow underneath and move the ball down the field that way.
Round 7 – Pick 235: Mitch Hyatt – OT – Clemson
The final pick of the draft for the Oakland Raiders is the second Clemson player in a row! The Raiders need a winning mentality and both Hyatt and Renfrow bring that. Hyatt is a player that shows just how quickly things can change in football, and just how difficult it is to project talent at the next level. He was a five star recruit out of high school, has played on National Championship winning teams but still figures to be a late day three pick in the draft.
His time starting at Clemson has taught him well. Hyatt has a very good grasp of the game and a high football IQ. The problem for him is that as a tackle he will be a little undersized. He also lacks the strength to succeed with regularity at the next level. That being said, he could transition inside to guard as well and provide valuable depth on the offensive line.
With that, the Oakland Raiders 2019 NFL Mock Draft class is complete. It’s been a lot of fun compiling the mock drafts for the AFC West this last four weeks and I can’t wait to see how things pan out in Nashville. As always, if you have any thoughts on anything you’ve read, find me on Twitter at @ojhodgkinson.
Photo Credit: raiderswire.usatoday.com