Las Vegas Raiders: 2023 defensive draft picks will have a chance to shine early
By Brad Weiss
The Las Vegas Raiders added nine players during the 2023 NFL Draft, and the defensive talent they brought in will get a chance early on.
Holding the No. 7 overall pick, the Las Vegas Raiders knew they had to do something to improve the defense on Day 1. Last year, Las Vegas did not pick until the third round, so the pressure was on second-year general manager Dave Ziegler to get this draft choice right.
As quarterbacks began flying off the board early on, with three going in the first four picks, it was obvious a playmaking defensive talent would be available at No. 7 overall. That player ended up being Tyree Wilson, an explosive edge rusher from Texas Tech who will have an opportunity to make a big impact in Year 1.
While first-round talent is always going to get a look early on in their careers, multiple 2023 defensive draft picks for the Raiders should get a chance as rookie. Las Vegas needed to revamp the entire defense this offseason, and by selecting six defensive players in their nine picks, the emphasis was definitely on that side of the ball this April.
Raiders rookie defenders could get a chance early on
In the third round, Las Vegas addressed their defensive tackle issues by selecting Byron Young, a punishing defender from Alabama. Young joins a position group in need of some young talent, and he should challenge Bilal Nichols and Jerry Tillery for playing time early.
On Day 3, the Raiders got going early on, trading up for Maryland star cornerback Jakorian Bennett, who could be the first Raiders rookie to get a starting job this season. Bennett was a Swiss Army Knife for the Terps during his time in college, and fills an immediate void as an outside cornerback for the Raiders.
Fellow 2023 defensive back Christopher Smith II should challenge for a starting job as well, especially after leading Georgia to back-to-back national titles, and being named a unanimous All-American last season. The fact that he fell to the Raiders with pick No. 170 overall could be one of the biggest steals in this year's draft class.
Even sixth and seventh-round selections like Nesta Jade Silvera and Amari Burney will get a long look this summer, as they play positions of need for the Silver and Black. Overall, this was a great haul for Ziegler, and some of these guys could be cornerstone defensive players in Las Vegas for a long time.