Todd McShay Mock Draft Has Oakland Raiders Taking Leonard Williams
By Chase Ruttig
Nov 29, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans defensive end Leonard Williams (94) celebrates against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
ESPN draft expert Todd McShay’s 2015 NFL Mock Draft 4.0 had some interesting scenarios come out on Monday morning, but few more interesting than with the Oakland Raiders as the guru of mocks has the Silver and Black drafting a highly touted defensive prospect for the second straight year inside the Top 5 of the first round.
McShay’s recent mock has the Raiders drafting USC defensive lineman Leonard Williams, adding interior talent to go along with 2014 fifth overall pick Khalil Mack in the defensive trenches for Oakland going into the future. A scenario that should entice Raiders fans who view Williams as the top player on the board when it comes to the defensive side of the ball.
To get Williams, McShay envisions a scenario in which quarterbacks Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota are selected with the top two picks in the draft before the Jacksonville Jaguars grab Amari Cooper for Blake Bortles support at the #3 overall spot to allow the USC star to slip to the Raiders. A scenario that could happen with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Tennessee Titans needing franchise quarterbacks to begin rebuilds from the ground up on their respective rosters.
McShay’s most recent mock is obviously highly reliant on the top two teams in the draft addressing their quarterback needs to allow either the Jaguars or the Raiders to take a combination of Cooper or Williams, something that could happen but also might remain unlikely with Winston’s character issues as well as the mixed reports of Mariota’s true draft stock going into the final month leading up to the 2015 Draft. Both the Titans as well as the Bucs capable of shocking the world by taking one of the top non-quarterbacks over the duo of Mariota and Winston which would kibosh McShay’s scenario in which Williams or Cooper would fall to the Raiders.
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Fans of the Raiders and the Jaguars will be hoping that isn’t the case as the front offices of the teams outside of the top two are hoping that quarterback is the play for both teams to allow the best players at the other positions on the board to fall into picks 3-5. Oakland especially needing a quarterback heavy scenario as if the Titans take Williams there is a good chance they could miss out on both the defensive tackle/defensive end as well as the top rated receiver in Cooper should Mariota or Winston fall out of the top two. While there is strong talent outside of those two players, it would be a disappointment for a Raiders team that played their way outside of the Top 3 late in the season with three consecutive home victories to end 2014.
There is precedent for the Raiders benefiting from quarterbacks going early in the first round as last year Oakland general manager Reggie McKenzie saw Mack drop to him after the Jaguars took Blake Bortles before Sammy Watkins went to the Buffalo Bills fourth overall. This spring the front office in Oakland are looking for a repeat as if Winston and Mariota can go back to back at the top of the draft the Raiders will be able to take the second highest non-quarterback in the 2015 class. Rebuilding the franchise through the draft, McShay’s scenario may be the best way for the Raiders defense to become a contender for one of the toughest in the AFC West, if the chips fall the right way for Oakland come draft day.