2021 NFL Draft: Las Vegas Raiders cannot afford to reach at pick No. 17
By Brad Weiss
The Las Vegas Raiders hold only one selection in the 2021 NFL Draft’s first round, which means they cannot afford to reach once again.
Sitting with the No. 17 overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Las Vegas Raiders have a big decision to make. After trading away three starters along the offensive line this offseason, and failing to make any real big splashes in terms of the secondary, those two areas are likely the biggest needs heading into April 29th’s first round.
In this draft class, there is starting-caliber talent that can help this team on Day 1, especially at offensive tackle, which is very deep this year. General manager Mike Mayock and head coach Jon Gruden do not have multiple first-round picks as has been the case in other years, so with one shot, they cannot afford to reach.
Raiders have reached in both 2019 and 2020
Looking back at the 2019 and 2020 NFL Drafts, it is clear that the Raiders reached in the first round of both. Holding three first-round picks in 2019, the then-Oakland Raiders made Clelin Ferrell the first Mayock selection, selecting him at No. 4 overall over talent like Josh Allen from Kentucky, who was the second-best edge rusher in that class.
The move for Ferrell did not lead to an increase in sacks, as it was fourth-round pick Maxx Crosby who ended up being a terror on the outside as a rookie. Allen, on the other hand, had a breakout season, racking up 10.5 sacks in only four starts, and showing why he should have been the second edge rusher off the board.
In 2020, Damon Arnette was the big reach for the Raiders with their second of two first-round picks, as injuries, and inconsistent play dogged him as a rookie. Arnette is still going to be counted on to help fix this secondary, but as we turn to the 2021 NFL Draft, selecting a cornerback in the first round may once again be in the cards for the Silver and Black.
Looking at some recent mock drafts, the Raiders have been linked to the likes of linebacker Micah Parsons from Penn State, and Oklahoma State offensive tackle Teven Jenkins, two players who certainly would not be reaches. However, we have also seen them go with players like Jamin Davis and Gregory Rousseau at pick No. 17, which I believe would be classic reaches for Gruden and Mayock.