Can you smell it? It’s almost here — with the calendar on the verge of turning over to April, it means we are less than a month away from the 2020 NFL Draft. And for me, that means my favorite series of the year: PICK or PASS.
The premise is simple, and if you found your way onto a computer and onto this website, you probably don’t need me to explain it to you but, just to be safe here goes: we’re going to break down 11 prospects over the next three-and-a-half weeks with one simple question in mind: should the Las Vegas Raiders PICK or PASS on this player in the draft?
At the end of the series, we’ll end with a discussion about trades, my big board and finally, some predictions on my part. But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s dive into our first player (want a particular player covered? Tweet at me @JeffSpiegel and let me know):
Derrick Brown, defensive lineman from Auburn
Now just as a disclaimer, this series isn’t focused on the 11 best players in the draft — it’s focused on 11 guys that I think (one way or another) the Raiders might be in play for. So Chase Young, Joe Burrow and Isaiah Simmons won’t be covered — but you’ll find them at the top of my big board anyways. This series is about being realistic.
Now you might read that and think: why are we talking about Derrick Brown, then? Anywhere you look Brown is a top-five player in this draft — so how in the world could he be in play at No. 12?
Admittedly it’s a long shot, however, the more I study draft boards and team needs, the more I wonder if Brown is really unattainable for the Raiders. Of course the Raiders could trade up for Brown (which I’m not opposed to), but even if they stay put, isn’t there a world in which the top 11 breaks down like this:
- 4 quarterbacks
- 4 offensive tackles
- Isaiah Simmons
- Chase Young
- Jeff Okudah
I mean, it’s not that crazy. In fact, I think it’s possible we could see a wide receiver off the board before No. 12 as well — all this to say, crazier things have happened. So, let’s break down Brown.
At 6’5″, 326 pounds, Brown is an absolute freak on the interior of the defensive line. While he lacks any specific elite move, Brown wins with power and quickness — disrupting both running games and passing games despite the high level of talent he saw in the SEC.
I mean, consider this stat:
Derrick Brown didn't miss a single tackle on 42 attempts all season and had a 90.6 pass-rushing grade.
He may be the most powerful DL in college football. pic.twitter.com/gClJY25MZJ
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) December 30, 2019
While interior defensive line isn’t the biggest need for the Raiders, I think if Brown is around the prospect of adding a potential Pro Bowler to take the burden off of the rest of the youngsters on the defensive line would be too tantalizing to pass up. Realistically, adding another force along the defensive line would free up the back half of the Raider defense in ways that are desperately needed.
It’s unlikely Brown is available at No. 12, but if he slips somehow I think Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden would jump out of their chairs and rush to turn their pick in.