2023 Raiders NFL Draft: Mock Draft 2.0
Will McDonald IV, NFL Draft, Raiders
Will McDonald IV stands for a photo during Iowa State Football media day at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames, Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022.

The dust is settling, the board is set — the NFL Draft has finally arrived! And so to conclude our “Pick or Pass” series, we’ll finish with my Mock Draft 2.0. If you missed the first version from a few weeks ago, you’ll notice that there is quite a bit of difference between the two — mostly because of a change in philosophy with our first-round pick.

To be clear, my preference remains that the Raiders trade up and add CJ Stroud to their roster if they can do so without including next season’s first. BUT, in the event that they decide to stay put and punt on the quarterback position (at least early), I figured I would give the draft a bit of a different look this time around. You’ll note there weren’t any trades here, which is almost assuredly a mistake, but for the exercise, I made things a bit easier on myself with that.

So, without further ado…

Jalen Carter, NFL Draft, Raiders
Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud (7) escapes a tackle from Georgia defensive lineman Jalen Carter (88) during the first half of the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl NCAA College Football Playoff semifinal game on Dec 31, 2022, in Atlanta.
News Joshua L Jones

Round 1, Pick No. 7: Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia

Carter is arguably the best player in the draft, but comes with a lot of off-the-field questions (both legally and in the locker room) — and yet, he also fits a massive need for the Raiders as well. If the Raiders can get past the drama surrounding Carter enough to feel good about the person, then this pick would be a home run. Whether they can or not remains up for debate…

Other options I considered: Devon Witherspoon (CB, Illinois)

Will McDonald IV, NFL Draft, Raiders
Will McDonald IV stands for a photo during Iowa State Football media day at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames, Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022.

Round 2, Pick No. 38: Will McDonald IV, EDGE, Iowa State

We’re attacking the defensive side of the ball early and often here, and as McDonald slips out of the first round we scoop him up to bolster our pass rush. Yes, cornerback is a massive need, but the second best thing we can do besides draft one is finding someone who can help Maxx Crosby out and lessen the amount of time the guys on the outside need to cover. McDonald can learn from Chandler Jones for a year and then take over as a long-term answer if everything goes according to plan.

Other options: Emmanuel Forbes (CB, Mississippi St), Hendon Hooker (QB, Tennessee), Steve Avila (OG, TCU)

Tyrique Stevenson, NFL Draft, Raiders
Nov 12, 2022; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Miami Hurricanes cornerback Tyrique Stevenson (2) intercepts a pass against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in the second half at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Round 3, Pick No. 70: Tyrique Stevenson, CB, Miami (FL)

Yep, more defense. We probably waited too long to find a surefire answer on the outside, but Stevenson was a top-50 talent on some boards and so we may have gotten lucky here. He’s a legit 6’0″ and nearly 200 pounds, so while he may not be a true No. 1, he has the makings of a quality starter.

Other options: Darius Rush (CB, South Carolina), Jordan Battle (S, Alabama), Blake Freeland (OT, BYU)

Tanner McKee, NFL Draft, Raiders
Nov 26, 2022; Stanford, California, USA; Stanford Cardinal quarterback Tanner McKee (18) throws a pass against the Brigham Young Cougars during the first half at Stanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

Round 3, Pick No. 100: Tanner McKee, QB, Stanford

The pick was richer than I had hoped for, but having missed out on Hooker I felt like I needed to grab a quarterback we felt okay about and McKee is that guy. The Stanford program has been a dumpster fire for a few years, and while McKee has all of the talent as a passer you could hope for, he just hasn’t put it together. Maybe Josh McDaniels can pull something out of him and make him a long-term answer?

Other options: Cameron Latu (TE, Alabama), Zack Kuntz (TE, Old Dominion)

Zack Kuntz, NFL Draft, Raiders
Sep 27, 2019; College Park, MD, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions tight end Zack Kuntz (82) runs with the ball against the Maryland Terrapins at Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Round 4, Pick No. 109: Zack Kuntz, TE, Old Dominion

I looked at Kuntz a pick earlier, and he’s still sitting here for us in the fourth so we scoop him up. He’s a small school kid but at over 6’7″, we’ll take a bit of a developmental project at a position of need long term.

Other options: None

Andrew Vorhees, NFL Draft, Raiders
Mar 5, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Southern California offensive lineman Andrew Vorhees (OL47) during the NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Round 5, Pick No. 141: Braeden Daniels, OG, Utah

Round 5, Pick No. 144: Andrew Vorhees, OG, USC

The biggest area of need that hasn’t been addressed yet is the offensive line and with Daniels and Vorhees that changes quickly. Both guys offer some positional versatility along the offensive line — as well as the ability to potentially step in right away and contribute.

Other options: None

Jay Ward, NFL Draft, Raiders
Sep 4, 2022; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Louisiana State Tigers safety Jay Ward (5) tackles Florida State Seminoles wide receiver Deuce Spann (5) during the first half at Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports

Round 5, Pick No. 174: Jay Ward, S, LSU

At the end of the fifth, we’re looking to continue plugging holes, and so we go back to the defensive side of the ball for some safety help. With Marcus Epps and Trevon Moehrig, we’ve got our two starters (and hopefully our two long-term starters), but Ward can step in as a special teams guy who offers some injury insurance as well.

Other options: Jalen Graham (LB, Purdue)

Deuce Vaughn, NFL Draft, Raiders
Dec 31, 2022; New Orleans, LA, USA; Kansas State Wildcats running back Deuce Vaughn (22) celebrates his touchdown scored against the Alabama Crimson Tide during the first half in the 2022 Sugar Bowl at Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Round 6, Pick No. 204: Deuce Vaughn, RB, Kansas State

Running back wasn’t on our shopping list, but Vaughn offers the Raiders’ backfield something a bit different than what they currently have. At this point, it’s all about value.

Nesta Jade Silvera, NFL Draft, Raiders
Nov 25, 2022; Tucson, Arizona, USA; Arizona State Sun Devils defensive lineman Nesta Jade Silvera (4) against the Arizona Wildcats during the Territorial Cup at Arizona Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Round 6, Pick No. 214: Nesta Jade Silvera, DT, Arizona State

I know the Raiders took a pair of defensive linemen late in the 2022 draft who wasn’t able to make an impact (and who they still have hope for), but it’s a position that has been such a black hole that the more bodies competing here, the better.

Jake Haener, NFL Draft, Raiders
Dec 3, 2022; Boise, Idaho, USA; Fresno State Bulldogs quarterback Jake Haener (9) during the first half of the Mountain West Championship game versus the Boise State Broncos at Albertsons Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

Round 7, Pick No. 220: Jake Haener, QB, Fresno State

A second quarterback?!? Absolutely. If you’re not going to burn your first pick on a QB, I say take a couple of swings late in the draft if there are guys you’re intrigued by — and Haener fits that bill. In many ways he is the exact opposite of McKee: he lacks ideal size, but he does have lots of really good college tape.

Karl Brooks, NFL Draft, Raiders
Sep 25, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Bowling Green Falcons defensive lineman Karl Brooks (44) sacks Minnesota Gophers quarterback Tanner Morgan (2) during the second quarter at Huntington Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports

Round 7, Pick No. 231: Karl Brooks, DT, Bowling Green

I like small school guys at this point in the draft — they get dinged for playing lesser competition, but maybe they’ll up their game at a higher level? More DTs, please.

Overall, I like the emphasis on defense that we got by the end of this one. All three of the guys taken in the first three picks should be Day 1 contributors and difference-makers on a defense desperate for them. There’s still a need for more help at cornerback and linebacker, but we knew every single need wouldn’t be solved in one draft — so it’s back to the phones and free agent market for Dave Ziegler to patch up the remaining holes.