Priority one for the Raiders coming into this draft was to find a new right tackle. The next priorities all came on the defensive side of the ball. And that’s exactly how the draft has played out so far.
With their pick at No. 17, they got Alabama offensive tackle Alex Leatherwood with designs on him being the immediate starting right tackle.
Their most glaring need out of the way, the focus shifted hard to the other side of the ball, where the Raiders needed a lot of work.
According to Mike Mayock, the Raiders plan coming into the draft was to take that approach. In part because of the team’s needs and in part because that’s how he saw the talent in this draft falling.
“We kind of knew that the first 15 or 16 picks of the draft there were going to be 11 or 12 offensive players,” Mayock said. “And that’s exactly what happened. . . And then the red (second tier) players were 75% defense. So in my mind, to match this draft up as we work from kind of the middle of the first through the third round, there was going to be a really strong group of defensive players. And let’s face it; we need defense. We’re not a very good defensive football team. And I think our current needs met up and matched what was going to be available today. So, in my own mind, yeah, this was going to be a defensive day.”
No need was bigger than free safety, so, of course, that’s where they went next, trading with the 49ers to move up from 48 to 43 to get TCU safety Trevon Moehrig. He will be expected to compete for the starting job at free safety right away.
The consensus top safety in this draft ended up being the third safety, presumably because of a back issue he had at his pro day which says is a non-issue and the Raiders agree.
Mike Mayock said the Raiders worried the Cowboys would be looking to get Moehrig at No. 44, so a move was needed to ensure they got their guy. It cost them their pick at No. 121 in the 4th round and they gained a 7th round pick (230 overall) in the deal.
Their next picks came back-to-back in the third round at No. 79 and No. 80. With those picks they addressed the pass rush with Buffalo edge rusher Malcolm Koonce and linebacker with Virginia Tech DB Divine Deablo.
Koonce has drawn comparisons to his new teammate, Yannick Ngakoue which Mayock agrees with and said he found rather ironic. The Raiders see Koonce as a third down edge rusher.
“Wait until you see him rush the quarterback,” Mayock said of Koonce. “He’s got a real chance to do some things that will help complement Ngakoue. So, now we’ve got two guys that can bend the edge, with some speed off the edge. That’s what we didn’t have the past couple of years, that bendy guy that can threaten you off the edge with speed. We’ve got the big powerful guys, we didn’t have the bendy edge guys.”
While Deablo idolizes former fellow Virgina Tech alum and Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor, the Raiders have designs on him playing weakside linebacker.
“We think he could play strong safety but the allure to us is he can play WILL linebacker,” Mayock said of Deablo. “He can do what Gus’s defense demands at the WILL linebacker position. He could probably match up with some tight ends in our division and do some things creatively.”
In the end, Mayock said the two things the Raiders needed to improve were getting after the quarterback and turning the ball over, and that’s what they were after with their three picks on day two.
Day three brings plenty more work to be done. Their current picks lay out thusly:
Round 5, pick 163
Round 5, pick 167
Round 6, pick 200
Round 7, pick 230