I’ll be the first to admit that it’s kind of sad how much I love NFL Draft Season — but when you’re an Oakland Raiders fan in the 21st Century, this is simply the hand we’ve been dealt. One of the best parts about being a Raider fan, though, is having a pretty good sense of who will be on the board when your team is up — long before draft day.
Picking at No. 4 makes the preparation easy because the bulk of your work can be spent focusing on the top four guys on your board. This year it’s even easier, with 99% of people apparently convinced that Kyler Murray will be the first guy off the board. That leaves us with three defensive linemen left to evaluate: Ohio State’s Nick Bosa, Alabama’s Quinnen Williams and Kentucky’s Josh Allen.
Weight: 266 lbs
40-Yard Dash: 4.79
Bench Press: 29 reps
Vertical jump: 33.5″
Broad jump: 116″
College Stats: 29 games, 77 tackles, 29 TFL, 17.5 sacks, 2 FF
Weight: 303 lbs
40-Yard Dash: 4.83
Bench Press: NA
Vertical jump: 30.5″
Broad jump: 112″
College Stats: 24 games, 91 tackles, 26 TFL, 10 sacks, 0 FF
Weight: 262 lbs
40-Yard Dash: 4.63
Bench Press: 28 reps
Vertical jump: NA
Broad jump: 118″
College Stats: 42 games, 220 tackles, 42 TFL, 31.5 sacks, 11 FF
It’s worth noting, of course, that Williams is an interior defensive lineman — while Bosa and Allen both project as more traditional defensive ends (although some think Allen might be able to play some outside linebacker if needed). So what do we see above?
On one extreme we have Bosa and Williams — both of whom have less tape than most scouts would probably prefer. Bosa missed all but three games this season with an injury (which isn’t ideal when both your brother and father have had injury problems as professionals), while Williams was left behind Alabama’s stockpile of first round picks — meaning he only really started for one season. Allen, on the other hand, was a four-year guy simply because he wasn’t a first-round draft prospect until this season.
When it comes to production, all three of these guys check all of the boxes — with Allen and Williams leading the way. Williams had a ridiculous 19.5 TFL and 8 sacks as an interior defensive lineman this season — and some would tell you his tape is even more impressive. Likewise, Allen was dominant in the SEC last year — logging 21.5 TFL and 17 sacks against the stiffest competition college football had to offer.
Simply put, there’s a reason these three guys are at the top of everyone’s draft board. While none of them are perfect, all of them seem to be locks as far as high-end NFL starters over the next 5-10 years — which is why the Raiders cannot afford to leave this draft without at least one of them.
So how do they rank?
If I’m the Raiders, the ideal pick is Bosa — he fills the biggest need (pass rusher) and is either 1A or 1B atop most draft boards along with Williams. When it comes to choosing between Williams or Allen (if somehow two quarterbacks go before Oakland gets on the clock), I think the decision is more difficult. Most people like Williams more as a prospect (some think he’s the best guy in the entire draft), but Allen plays the premium position that the Raiders crave most. So how does it shake out?
VERDICT: For me, I forget positions and take best player available. I’d take Bosa No. 1, Williams No. 2 and Allen No. 3 — and I’d be thrilled with each of them.