Tier 2 – The realistic options
These are the players that I believe are the most realistic options; meaning they are more likely to be available than the players mentioned in the first tier.
Any of the following players would be a solid pick at #14.
I personally have Jones graded above Rankins and Lawson. So other than Zeke and Hargreaves, Jones is my favorite for the pick. But he’s mentioned in this category instead of the same category as Rankins and Lawson because they are both expected to be gone when Oakland is on the clock, while Jones is considered to be more likely available.
Jones is a fantastic player, who is both a productive pass rusher and an excellent run defender. He’s big, athletic, technically sound, and versatile. Jones has tremendous upside and could make the Raiders front seven dominant.
I’ll start by saying that on film, I’m a Nkemdiche fan. From a talent perspective and for on the field reasons, I would not at all be upset if he were the selection at #14. He’s a freak athlete and a proficient pass rusher, with upside higher than most in this draft class. He needs refinement from a technique standpoint, but Jethro Franklin is one of the best in the business and could turn Nkemdiche into the player he is capable of becoming.
The off-field stuff is certainly concerning, and his effort on the field was at times lackluster. But Nkemdiche did a pre-draft visit with Oakland, so if Reggie McKenzie, Jack Del Rio and company make him the selection, the fan base should be fully confident in their judgement.
Even though Donald Penn re-signed, Oakland still needs to think about the left tackle of the future. Penn may have only one, maybe two seasons left in the tank. Austin Howard wasn’t terrible down the stretch, but it’s time to start planning for the future.
Decker would provide immediate competition at right tackle, and in my opinion, would be a day one upgrade. Decker is solid in both pass protection and in the run game, and he’s got a mean streak that’ll fit right in with the rest of the big fellas. In one or two years, Decker could slide to the left side and the team will be set on protecting Carr’s blindside.
The idea of Oakland taking a cornerback from the University of Houston with their first-round pick surely gives many Raiders fans terrible flashbacks, but William Jackson III is no D.J. Hayden.
Jackson has top-notch ball skills, thanks to his ability to turn his head around, track and locate the football, and then make a play on it. His film is filled with impressive interceptions and pass deflections. He also is 6’0″ with long arms and 4.37 speed, giving him ideal size and speed to compete in today’s NFL. He’s a top-15 player in this draft class.
Alexander is probably the most debated cornerback in this draft class. His lack of interceptions may be a concern to some, but the more impressive stats are his low completion percentage of 29% and zero allowed touchdown receptions. He’s an excellent man-cover corner and even though he’s undersized, he’s a great athlete, he plays physical, and he’s a fierce competitor. Alexander also might be the biggest film junkie in this entire draft class, regardless of position.
Alexander would be a great fit as a slot corner, especially if T.J. Carrie sees more time at safety, and has the ability to move outside when needed. He’d also bring a quite a bit of confidence (understatement), and could be the “bad guy” that brings some swagger and attitude to the defense.
Next: Raiders First Round Options: Tier 3