If the 2023 NFL season ended today, the Las Vegas Raiders would hold the No. 11 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. While many feel the Raiders could possibly trade up for a quarterback, or even trade picks for Chicago Bears signal-caller Justin Fields, recent mock drafts have them looking towards the other side of the ball.
Las Vegas as a group took a big step forward on the defensive side of the ball this season, as we saw guys like Divine Deablo, Tyree Wilson, Jack Jones, and Malcolm Koonce stand out in a big way. Of course, Maxx Crosby was dominant, and could be the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year this season, but was it enough for the Raiders to bypass on a defensive talent on Day 1?
Here, we dive into some recent NFL Mock Drafts, and most have the Raiders going defense in the first round.
Raiders 2024 NFL Draft: Mocks trending towards Las Vegas going defense in Round 1
Raiders go with a DT in multiple mock drafts
NFL Mocks put out their latest mock draft after the Week 17 slate concluded, and the Raiders select the first defensive player to come off the board in it. The pick for the Silver and Black is Illinois defensive tackle Jer’Zahn Newton, who Chris McGlynn believes would help Maxx Crosby in a big way continue to dominate coming off the edge.
Pro Football Focus also likes the thought of Newton in Las Vegas, as Trevor Sikkema has the Raiders taking him in his recent 'perfect' mock for all 32 NFL teams. Sikkema feels that Newton would be a difference-maker on what could be a very good Raiders defensive line in 2024, and beyond.
Raiders trending towards a linebacker as well?
Over at Bleacher Report, Joe Tansey likes the Raiders going defense as well, but he likes UCLA's Laiatu Latu to be the Raiders selection at No. 11 overall. In that mock, Newton actually goes right after the Raiders select Latu, landing with the Minnesota Vikings, as they look to revamp that side of the ball as well.
Latu is an outstanding pass rushers, and could help a unit that saw tremendous growth from numerous players this past season. He would be a guy Patrick Graham could use at linebacker, and coming off the edge, making him a swiss army knife for the Raiders defense.
Raiders could also go with a quarterback on Day 1
Anybody who watched the Washington Huskies take on the Texas Longhorns in the College Football Playoff had to come away impressed with Michael Penix Jr. This guy can flat out throw the football, and he showed precision accuracy to go along with a cannon for a left arm during the team's victory.
In the latest mock draft over at 247Sports.com, Brad Crawford has him landing with the Raiders at pick No. 11, and for some in Raider Nation, that would be the best-case scenario. Of course, the Raiders would send Aidan O'Connell back to a No. 2 role if Penix comes in, as he would likely be given the keys to the car as a rookie.