With their first pick in the 3rd round, the Las Vegas Raiders go to the trenches with Alabama's Byron Young, bolstering the DT spot.
The Las Vegas Raiders are now in the thick of the NFL draft and with their #70 pick, they have selected defensive tackle Byron Young from Alabama. With strong hands and long arms, Young profiles as someone who can provide a ton of value in the run game and push the pocket occasionally.
Defensive tackles were undoubtedly a position of need for the Raiders, and they hope Young will provide valuable depth. Young finished his college career with 130 tackles and 20 TFLs. So they addressed a position of need, but was it the right guy?
Raiders 2023 NFL Draft: Grade and Fit for Byron Young at No. 70
Byron Young will make his way onto the field as a hard-nose run-stopper. And for the Raiders, that could prove to be valuable.
"Young doesn’t play with desired explosiveness or mass, but he can break down the rhythm of blockers with his length, awareness, and skill. He is scheme-diverse and will provide immediate depth as an NFL rotational player."- Dane Bugler, The Athletic
Last season, the team ranked 23rd in yards allowed per rush attempt, and players like Jerry Tillery will not cut it when it comes to holding up in the trenches. So Young could quickly work his way into the rotation and be someone who is taking a lot of snaps in 2023.
However, can he hold up strength wise for a full NFL season?
At only 294 lbs, Young is unlikely to hold up against many double teams, and he doesn't profile as a fast twitch gap penetrator.
Having started four years at Alabama, you don't doubt he is an intelligent player with good technique. And from everything you read, he has a very high motor. But he will need to get some strength in his lower body.
This is a solid pick that will not change life in Las Vegas, but with such few proven players on the interior defensive line, Young may have to be on the field more than his talent demands. And as much as he is going to help the run defense. You would hope he was a dominant run defender if he was taken this early and not just a good one.
It is hard to hate this pick, but there is little upside. And it's still early enough to take a chance on someone with a more athletic upside. A player like Northwestern's Adetomiwa Adebawore provides much more pass-rush ability and would have been a good upside player to me.