The Las Vegas Raiders have the No.12 overall pick in this year's draft and could have some great options fall to them based on teams above them.
With the college football season over, many players are beginning to declare their intentions on whether to go pro or not, as we get a clear look at the 2020 NFL Draft. A huge announcement was made earlier today with Tua Tagovailoa announcing that he is going pro, which brings even more intrigue to the top ten, where the Las Vegas Raiders fall just out of.
For the Las Vegas Raiders, this is just another player that could lead to a non-quarterback falling to them at pick 12. Trades could, of course, change things, but at the moment, the Raiders are in a decent position to have multiple great prospects to select from.
So which players would be the best options for the Raiders at 12?
Despite the improvements in 2019, there are still a ton of needs, especially at the skill position on both sides of the ball, so the Raiders have a lot of ways they can go.
Here are the five best options I think would not only fit a need but be worthy of a top 15 pick.
I’ll be honest; if Simmons is available at 12, it will be an indictment on the many of the teams picking in front of the Raiders. However, Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock should sprint their card to the commissioner if Simmons falls into their hands.
With the way the game is played today, versatility is everything for defenses, and Simmons provides elite versatility. At 6’4 and 230lbs, he is an unreal athlete that would bring immediate speed and physicality in the middle of the Raiders defense. Their struggles to cover in the middle of the field have been an issue for years, and Simmons could quickly make it a strength of the team.
He is also capable of playing in the slot, and if you watched his college playoff game against Ohio State, he can even drop back and play deep safety at times.
A lot of times, versatility can be a crutch for a player that really doesn’t have a go-to position. However, with Simmons, it’s more like he so good everywhere; it’s hard to know exactly where you’ll maximize him best. He also plays for the Raiders college pipeline at the University of Clemson, so it seems like a match based on Mayock and Gruden draft philosophy. Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther has never been one to encourage high draft capital on linebackers, but I doubt even he would let someone like Simmons go by.
On top of the issues at linebacker, the lack of a go-to option at wide receiver is something the Raiders clearly need to address this offseason. Luckily, the 2020 draft class is deep with receiver talent, so the Raiders should have no issue finding a quality prospect. If they do decide to go WR with their first pick, there are some serious talents at the top of the board, and it starts with prospects like Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb.
Lamb got his chance to be the Sooner’s number one option this year with the departure of Hollywood Brown, and he took his game to a different level. His ball skills and body control were always something to marvel at, but his run after the catch ability in 2019 was special. That YAC is precisely what the Raiders need in their style of offense.
He is not someone that is going to blow people away with his straight-line speed, but he seems to play fast, which is what’s most important. Lastly, he can handle press-man coverage and doesn’t at all shy away from physicality. Lamb has all the traits of a number one option for any team, and the Raiders should undoubtedly jump at the chance to take him.
Jerry Jeudy or Henry Ruggs III
The receiver group for Alabama this season was genuinely ridiculous, with as many as four players that could end up being first-round picks in the next two drafts. The two entering the draft this year were the best of the bunch, and both would be great for the Raiders.
Jerry Jeudy is in a fight for top receiver in the class with CeeDee Lamb, and it is because he has almost no flaws in his game. Jeudy wins at all three levels with quickness and elite route running that has him compared to Odell Beckham.
He also has strong hands and the long speed to take the top off a defense on any play. The only thing a team may have concerns about is his smaller frame (6’1, 190lbs), but beyond that, he is about as ideal a receiver prospect you can find.
So how could someone of his skill drop to 12?
It would come down to the needs of the team drafting in front of the Raiders. The only team that is in pressing need of a wide receiver that early are Arizona at eight. At that point, it becomes a matter of preference. If the Cardinals go Lamb, there's a good chance Oakland could get Jeudy and vise verse. The declaration of Tua could also push a team up for trade, which only enhances the chances of one of these two falling to Las Vegas.
Ruggs III, on the other hand, has been a popular mock draft pick for the Raiders and would quickly solve the team’s lack of speed on offense. Legit 4.2 speed, Ruggs III is a threat to score anytime he touches the ball, and from an on the field perspective seems like a Tyreek Hill type difference-maker. However, Ruggs III is not just a speedster but also has the skill of a true receiver with the ability to make catches in traffic. And despite only being 6’0, he is capable of winning jump-ball situations with his strong hands and leaping ability.
The route running is still developing, but his level of speed is something that can affect defenses to the point where it opens up everything else for the offense.
The Raiders still need help in the secondary, and there isn’t a much better place to look for help than LSU. Kristian Fulton is next in line for the LSU and could create a great duo for the Raiders opposite Trayvon Mullen.
Fulton, like most LSU cornerbacks, excels in press-man coverage with fantastic patience and fluidity. His ability to flip his hips and make quick transitions allows him to mirror receivers all over the field, and he is aggressive at the catch point with 13 pass deflections this season. According to the Pro Football Focus, Fulton has only allowed 609 yards over the past two seasons, which is about 25 yards per game.
The Raiders were 25th in the league in passing yards allowed per game, 31st in yards per pass attempt allowed, 31st in yards per completion allowed and 22nd in completion percentage allowed. All that to say, they can certainly use a player like Fulton to boost their secondary.
Pick 12 may seem high for a cornerback to most, but if the Raiders ever want to compete for the division with the Kansas City Chiefs, there going to have to improve their secondary. Two capable young corners would go a long way to turning this defense around.