It’s only in NFL Draft season that you wish your team had lost more games, but here we are as Las Vegas Raiders fans, staring down the barrel of picking seventh in a draft that probably doesn’t have seven elite prospects. In spite of this, it doesn’t mean this draft will be short on drama for Las Vegas — with a handful of potential difference makers at quarterback expected to move off the board quickly.
With all this in mind, it’s time for my first swing at a Raiders mock draft — with special thanks to the folks at Pro Football Focus for building a pretty awesome mock draft tool we’ll use to simulate draft night. In this exercise, I’ll draft through seven rounds — but in an effort to be fully transparent, the last few rounds will be less about names (I’m not going to pretend to have in-depth knowledge of guys going in the 200s) and more about what positions the team should be targeting. I’ll be updating this mock draft the week of the draft, once I’ve finished my deep dive into the top prospects — so this is the true definition of a rough draft.
So… Let’s dive in!
TRADE: Raiders trade Pick No. 7, No. 38, 2024 1st Rounder to Arizona for Pick No. 3, Pick No. 105, 2024 4th Rounder
We’ve identified our quarterback and rather than wasting a year and waiting until 2024, we’re moving up to get the guy we like, which is…
ROUND 1 (Pick No. 3): CJ Stroud, QB, Ohio State
At this point in the evaluation process, Stroud is my favorite quarterback on the board. He doesn’t have the size/durability concerns of Bryce Young — or the refinement questions of Will Levis and Anthony Richardson — while still having both an impressive ceiling and floor. Truthfully, I can’t get the College Football Playoff Semifinal performance he had against Georgia out of my mind, and I think he’s going to be a stud at the next level.
The cost here is obviously significant — a second-rounder this year and a first-rounder next year just to move up seven spots — but if you identify a quarterback you can win with, there’s not really a cost that’s too high.
ROUND 3 (Pick No. 70): Garrett Williams, CB, Syracuse
With Rock Ya-Sin still a free agent, the Raiders have a huge hole outside, and so we’re using our second pick to try and shore that up. Williams is a guy that thrives in press coverage, and so he fits in nicely with what Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham is trying to build in Las Vegas.
ROUND 3 (Pick No. 100): Henry To’o To’o, LB, Alabama
With the pick acquired in the Darren Waller trade, the Raiders make a move for the former Alabama linebacker to shore up the second level of their defense a bit. This isn’t a premium position, but To’o To’o probably steps into the starting lineup pretty quickly.
ROUND 4 (Pick No. 105): Blake Freeland, T, BYU
Right tackle is a priority position for the Raiders, and it’s honestly not one they can probably afford to wait this long to address…and yet, when you move two picks for a QB, your options are limited a bit. At this point you’re not really guaranteeing yourself a starter, you’re just taking a swing and crossing your fingers.
ROUND 4 (Pick No. 109): Dorian Williams, LB, Tulane
Denzel Perryman is a free agent and doesn’t feel like a perfect fit to return next season (especially with the Robert Spillane signing), meaning there are questions that need answering at the second level. Luke Masterson played alright down the stretch despite being an undrafted rookie, but if you don’t think he’s a long-term answer, this spot might be a good time to try and find someone who is.
ROUND 5: Kobie Turner, DT, Wake Forest (143); Davis Allen, TE, Clemson (146); Antonio Mafi, G, UCLA (174)
Three positions desperately in need of some depth get addressed here. Tight end might not feel like a priority with Austin Hooper and OJ Howard in the fold, but in a deep tight end class it would be wise to try and find a long-term answer. Much like tackle above, guard and defensive tackle would be tough to ignore until now, but that’s just how things fell.
ROUND 6: DJ Johnson, EDGE, Oregon (204); Ronnie Bell, WR, Michigan (214)
At this point, we’re looking for guys who can be a third pass rusher or a No. 4 receiver, and both of these groups are worth taking some swings at.
ROUND 7: Gervarrius Owens, S, Houston (222); TJ Bass, T, Oregon (233)
Safety is a position they’d need to continue addressing via free agency if this was the way the draft fell, while taking another swing at tackle seems wise given the need.
Ultimately if the draft played out like this, everything would hinge on Stroud — if he pans out, then nothing else matters (in a sense), and if he doesn’t then the same is true in a negative sense. Beyond Stroud, I think you’d leave this draft feeling like you added a guy who can start at corner and a potential multi-year starter at tackle, two premium positions that would be cost-savers on a roster desperate for them.
Obviously, not every hole gets filled here, but that’s the cost of moving up for a quarterback — and the good news is that the Raiders have plenty of money to spend in free agency as well.