You’re on the clock and you get to make the pick
Welcome to the first edition of this year’s Las Vegas Raiders NFL Draft this or that series. From now until draft day, I’ll release these fairly regularly — the goal is at least five a week — and the structure is pretty simple.
You’ll have two prospects to pick from and the scenario could be a traditional draft-day decision where the two players are similarly ranked and play the same or a different position, or it will be two guys who play the same position but have different grades. In the latter, you have to decide what you like better, the higher-ranked prospect who might be a bit of a reach at that draft spot or the value play with a later draft pick.
Under each player, there will be a list of other options so you have an idea of what the board will look like down the road to help with your decision-making. Also, there will be a link to a full scouting report, ‘the skinny’ on what that prospect brings to the table, their rank on NFL Mock Draft Database’s consensus big board, and the case for and against each player.
I’ll put a poll at the bottom for everyone to vote on and post the results in the following scenario. Feel free to chime in and share your thought process behind your decision in the comments section. There are only two rules, have fun with this and don’t be a dick. This is all meant to be in good fun and get some discussion going about one of the best annual sporting events, the NFL Draft!
Now, let’s pretend we’re Dave Ziegler and get to our first scenario. The Raiders are on the clock with the 86th pick of the draft and your two options are Abraham Lucas, offensive tackle from Washington State, or Tariq Woolen, cornerback from UTSA.
NMDD rank: 94th overall, 3rd round
Lucas is well-versed in pass protection having taken over 2,100 pass-blocking snaps in four years as a starter in Washington State’s Air Raid offense. He’s also a pretty good athlete for the position — 9.73 RAS score — to suggest that his success in pass pro will translate to the next level. However, he’s a bit of a mystery in the ground game as that scheme doesn’t use a lot of NFL run concepts, and he has some flaws as a run blocker as well.
The Raiders could use a starting right tackle, especially one that’s good in pass protection. Both Alex Leatherwood and Brandon Parker struggled in that regard last season and are currently projected to start this year as well. Stabilizing the offensive line is arguably the team’s biggest need this offseason and they haven’t addressed it yet.
While Lucas would be an upgrade in pass protection, Leatherwood and Parker are both better run blockers, and Las Vegas’ passing game was just fine with them in the lineup a year ago. Also, the Washington State product has flaws as a pass blocker as well — albeit not many — so there’s no guarantee that he’ll have a smooth transition as a rookie in the NFL. Then there’s the age-old adage about drafting for need and passing up on talented players at other positions.
Later OT options: Rasheed Walker, Penn St (ranked 103rd overall), Max Mitchell, Louisiana (106th), Luke Goedeke, Central Michigan (122nd)
NMDD Rank: 83rd overall, 3rd round
A 6’4” corner with long arms, great ball skills and a sub-4.3 40-yard-dash time. Woolen potential is through the roof and he is the definition of an “upside” prospect, especially since he’s only been playing the position for a little more than two years. However, the latter makes him more of a project and it might be a year or two until he’s really ready to start on an NFL defense.
In my opinion, Woolen is the superior prospect overall. You can’t coach size and speed — he’d certainly make Al Davis proud — and he has the making of a mid-round gem in this year’s class. While corner isn’t a pressing need for the Silver and Black, Trayvon Mullen, Rock Ya-Sin and Anthony Averett are all on the last, or only, year of their current contracts. So, Vegas might be the best destination for Woolen since he doesn’t have to play right away.
If the Raiders are going all-in on a Super Bowl run this year, then they kind of have to draft for need with only five picks after the Davante Adams trade. Plus, they’ll have first- or second-rounders to find a cornerback next year. While Woolen would make Mr. Davis proud, the former Roadrunner is a risk and could become another classic height/weight/speed draft fail.
Later CB options: Alonte Taylor, Tennessee (ranked 110th overall), Cam Taylor-Britt, Nebraska (126th), Mario Goodrich, Clemson (129th)
The choice is yours!