Re-grading Raiders 2023 NFL Draft

It has been nearly a calendar year since the Las Vegas Raiders 2023 draft class joined the organization, so let us re-grade their impact in Year 1.
Los Angeles Chargers v Las Vegas Raiders
Los Angeles Chargers v Las Vegas Raiders / Cooper Neill/GettyImages

The 2023 NFL season for the Las Vegas Raiders had its fair share of highs and lows, and the rookie class for the Silver and Black was no different. While we saw some players exceed expectations, the group as a whole was a bit of a letdown, and many are on the hot seat as they go into Year 2.

As we inch closer to the newest draft class for the Raiders coming into the franchise, let us take a look back at 2023, and re-grade the class from last April.

Re-grading Raiders 2023 NFL Draft

Tyree Wilson. C. 1st Round. Edge. Tyree Wilson

The first round pick in 2023 was Tyree Wilson, and at the time, it was seen as a bit of a shock considering an elite defensive tackle was still on the board. Wilson, an edge rusher, certainly had a first-round grade, but picking him in the top-10 was not expected, especially when you considered team needs.

Wilson's first year was a forgettable one, as he never became much of an edge rusher as he battled back from injury. He played well down the stretch after being moved inside, but he was drafted to rush the quarterback, and it will be interesting to see if he can earn time doing so with the rise of Malcolm Koonce last year.

Michael Mayer. Michael Mayer. B. 2nd Round. Tight End

The Raiders were looking for someone to replace Darren Waller at the tight end position, and they may have found their long-term solution in Michael Mayer. Las Vegas traded up for Mayer in the 2023 NFL Draft, and while it took him a bit to get going at the NFL level, this has the potential to be a cornerstone player for the Raiders for years to come.

The 2024 season will be an interesting one for Mayer, as he will have to prove he can stay healthy and produce across a 17-game season. If he can be a weapon in the passing game, the Raiders should have no issues moving the ball through the air in 2024.

3rd Round. Defensive Tackle. Byron Young. Byron Young. D

This is starting to look like a lost pick, as Byron Young did not do much in his rookie season, and could be buried on the depth chart in Year 2. The Raiders biggest free agency move was adding Christian Wilkins at defensive tackle, and with John Jenkins and Adam Butler returning, Young could end up being the odd man out.

Wide Receiver. Tre Tucker. Tre Tucker. B. 3rd Round

With the pick they got from the New York Giants in the Darren Waller trade, the Raiders made a bit of a surprising selection in Tre Tucker. At the time he was drafted, the Raiders seemed to have their slot wideout in Hunter Renfrow, but now, going into Year 2, Tucker is going to have every chance to earn significant playing time with Renfrow gone via free agency.

You have to love the big-play ability of Tucker, and he should be worked into the offense in a big way this season. If he can improve his catching and route-running, he should slide in nicely as the No. 3 wideout behind Davante Adams and Jakobi Meyers.

D. 4th Round. Cornerback. Jakorian Bennett. Jakorian Bennett

One player who really disappointed last season was Jakorian Bennett, a cornerback from Maryland who was supposed to come in and fight for a starting job. Bennett was never able to get it going despite having the opportunity to earn significant playing time as a rookie, but he will have a chance to possibly move up the depth chart this summer.

Cornerback is one of the weaker position groups for the Raiders right now, but if Bennett can live up to his potential, he could be a real contributor in Year 2.

Aidan O'Connell. Aidan O'Connell. A. 4th Round. Quarterback

Nobody expected much out of Aidan O'Connell as a rookie, as the expectation was he would sit behind Jimmy Garoppolo and Brian Hoyer and learn. However, the NFL is a funny place, and by the time Antonio Pierce took over as head coach, O'Connell was named the full-time starter, and played his best football down the stretch.

Wins over AFC West teams have been hard to come by for the Raiders, but O'Connell beat all three AFC West teams towards the end of the NFL season, and finished with eight touchdowns against zero interceptions to close the year. To get that kind of production out of a rookie fourth-round pick at the quarterback position was impressive, and leads to our highest mark of this past year's draft class.

C-. 5th Round. Safety. Christopher Smith II. Chris Smith II

The Raiders safety room took a big step forward last season, as the arrival of Marcus Epps really helped in the development of Trevon Moehrig. Christopher Smith II was seen as a Day 3 steal when he was picked in the fifth-round, but he did not get much of a chance to make an impact in Year 1.

Still, he is a talented player who will likely make the roster this summer if he can show some improvement over a very pedestrian rookie season.

Amari Burney. Amari Burney. C-. 6th Round. Linebacker

Like Smith, Burney is a player who is going to get a long look this summer. He plays a position that does not have much depth right now, and in the small sample we saw of him last year, he has enough talent to at least be a depth piece for the Raiders at linebacker.

Defensive Tackle. Nesta Jade-Silvera. Nesta Jade-Silvera. F. 7th Round

It was a lost season for Nesta Jade-Silvera, as he appeared in only two games, and was more known for his cigar-smoking statement after Josh McDaniels was fired. The Raiders brought him back after waiving him in December, but in a loaded position group, he is going to have to have a tremendous summer to not land on the practice squad once again in 2024.

Overall Grade: B-

This is a group that has potential to be great, and if Aidan O'Connell becomes the long-term starting quarterback, then he will prove to be a steal in the fourth round. Wilson has to step up in Year 2, and Mayer and Tucker have to be a bigger part of the offense in order for this draft class to rate any higher than a B- right now.

There are some players who were selected that may never play for the Raiders in a regular season game again, and some who could bounce back. Overall, this is a group that we will have to revisit after their second season is over.