2023 Raiders NFL Draft: Pick or Pass – Mock Draft 1.0
C.J. Stroud, Raiders, NFL Draft
Dec 31, 2022; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback C.J. Stroud (7) throws a pass during the second half of the Peach Bowl in the College Football Playoff semifinal at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Ohio State lost 42-41. Mandatory Credit: Adam Cairns-The Columbus Dispatch Ncaa Football Peach Bowl Ohio State At Georgia

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…

CJ Stroud, NFL Draft, Raiders
Dec 31, 2022; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback C.J. Stroud (7) passes the ball against during the third quarter of the 2022 Peach Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

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.

Garrett Williams, NFL Draft, Raiders
Oct 31, 2020; Syracuse, New York, USA; Wake Forest Demon Deacons wide receiver Taylor Morin (83) has a potential touchdown pass broken up by Syracuse Orange defensive back Garrett Williams (14) in the fourth quarter at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

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.

Henry To'o To'o, Raiders, NFL Draft
Oct 22, 2022; Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Henry To’o To’o (10) warms up before a game against the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

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.

Blake Freeland, Raiders, NFL Draft
Feb 2, 2023; Mobile, AL, USA; National offensive lineman Blake Freeland of Brigham Young (73) practices during the third day of Senior Bowl week at Hancock Whitney Stadium in Mobile. Mandatory Credit: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

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.

Dorian Williams, NFL Draft, Raiders
Jan 2, 2023; Arlington, Texas, USA; Tulane Green Wave linebacker Dorian Williams (2) holds up the McKnight trophy for outstanding defensive player after the Green Wave defeat the USC Trojans in the 2023 Cotton Bowl at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

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.

Davis Allen, Raiders, NFL Draft
Dec 3, 2022; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Clemson Tigers tight end Davis Allen (84) catches a touchdown in front of North Carolina Tar Heels linebacker Cedric Gray (33) during the first quarter of the ACC Championship game at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

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.

DJ Johnson, NFL Draft, Raiders
Oregon linebacker DJ Johnson (2) reacts to a turnover on downs during the second quarter against Oregon State at Reser Stadium in Corvallis, Ore. on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022.
Ncaa Football Oregon Vs Oregon State 2027

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.

Gervarrius Owens, NFL Draft, Raiders
Dec 4, 2021; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Houston Cougars safety Gervarrius Owens (32) reacts after the field goal by the Cincinnati Bearcats is no good in the first half during the American Athletic Conference championship game at Nippert Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

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.

Dave Ziegler, Raiders
Aug 26, 2022; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Las Vegas Raiders general manager Dave Ziegler looks on during the game against the New England Patriots at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports


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.