Assessing the Raiders First Round Options

Assessing the Raiders First Round Options

2023 NFL Draft

Assessing the Raiders First Round Options


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The Raiders currently hold the 7th overall pick in this years NFL draft which is less than a month away. They addressed certain needs during the free agency period inking quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to a three year, 72.5 million contract while also adding receiver Jakobi Meyers on a three year, 33 million deal. The team didn’t add any large names on defense, but contrary to most beliefs I think they got better in certain areas. Safety Marcus Epps signed a two year, 12 million deal and he’ll anchor the teams free safety spot across from Trevon Moehrig. David Long and Duke Shelley are starting caliber corners on cheap deals that the team can pair with another rookie and Nate Hobbs. 

Free agency usually doesn’t shape a team’s draft philosophy and there’s certain needs the Raiders can still address in the draft, especially with their first round pick where it seems an abundance of talent will be available. 

Option 1: DT Jalen Carter

Jalen Carter was once viewed as a lock for a top three pick but due to off field issues and the rise of quarterbacks Will Levis and Anthony Richardson it seems Carter could fall to the Raiders pick at seven. They shouldn’t have too much competition for him outside of the Lions one pick before them, which bodes well for his chances to be on the board. The Raiders interior line is lacking a superstar caliber defensive tackle, and has been for what feels like decades. Carter is one of the best interior line prospects in a long time and would pair incredibly well with Maxx Crosby and Chandler Jones. 

Carter has off-field issues that are well-known but if the Raiders are confident they won’t continue paired with team structure and good mentors Carter is the clear cut pick here for a team lacking interior pass rush. 

Option 2: Take a Corner

Nate Hobbs is likely to start in the slot with Duke Shelley starting outside opposite a rookie. Depth options Tyler Hall, David Long, Amik Robertson, Brandon Facyson and Sam Webb round out a decent corner room. Devon Witherspoon or Christian Gonzalez could pair well with the group and give the team a lockdown starter for the next decade. 

Witherspoon is my personal CB1 and would fit excellently in the Patrick Graham scheme. In his 41 game career, the six foot corner has allowed just 86 receptions for 1153 yards, three touchdowns and a 69.8 QBR in 178 targets. He’s also added five interceptions and 25 breakups. Witherspoon is a sticky man coverage corner that loves to play at a physical level and it shows in his run game as well, where he’s willing to come up and lay any hit on a receiver. The Raiders like mid level athletes that are between 5-10 and 6-0 at corner, that’s Witherspoon.

Gonzalez broke out in 2022 after transferring to Oregon, but there are still flaws. The positive though is Gonzalez is a massive 6-2, 204 pounds and runs a 4.38 40 yard dash. He’s an elite athlete and that shows on film, he’s able to keep up with receivers and glides around the field. He’s fluid in his backpedal and reads the quarterback well. There’s concerns over his run defense where his tackling can get spotty but the upside at corner is immense. In 28 games the 20 year old allowed 85 receptions for 981 yards, seven touchdowns and a 77.8 QBR off 144 targets while adding four interceptions and 17 breakups. 

The Raiders can go either route at corner and it won’t really matter. If Jalen Carter is gone then one of these two are very likely to hear their name called 7th overall as the Raiders look to shore up their secondary. 

Option 3: Trade Down

Pick seven is going to be loaded with talent and there’s a real chance Carter, Witherspoon, Gonzalez, Myles Murphy, Broderick Jones, and Peter Skornoski are available at the pick. That’s an elite core of talent that the Raiders could capitalize on. There’s plenty of teams that could look to jump up and take someone before the Bears and Eagles draft. Teams that reportedly have considered moving up include the Eagles (10th), Titans (11th), Texans (12th), Packers (15th) and Commanders (16th). In trading down there’s a likely chance the Raiders can still grab a top tier defender, and depending on where they move down towards possibly even the same guy they would’ve grabbed seventh overall. They can likely add another second and/or third and multiple day three picks. 

The Raiders shouldn’t trade down if Jalen Carter is available but in the chance he’s gone the team should explore the option of gaining more draft capital to invest on a roster that frankly needs a heavy infusion of young talent. 

Option 4: Tyree Wilson

The Raiders very well could be looking to increase their pass rush in the first round and if Jalen Carter is off the board, Wilson is likely the best option. The Texas Tech pass rusher is a massive 6-6, 275 pounds and can move around the defensive line a good bit. Over his four year career Wilson posted 993 snaps at traditional defensive end, 477 at three tech, and another 120 inside the guard’s shoulder. Wilson posted a career 106 pressures, 28 quarterback hits, 71 hurries, 66 run stops and 17 sacks. He also added 121 tackles, 32 tackles for loss and three forced fumbles. Wilson is a powerful player and while he lacks an above average first step, it’s still quick and he shows more explosiveness in the rep, rather than at the start. The Raiders have Chandler Jones and Maxx Crosby, but they certainly could find a way to slide Wilson into the mix and he’d very likely take over for Chandler Jones in 2024. 

Option 5: Take a QB

This is the last option for a good reason and it’s all about value. Dave Ziegler stated in a previous interview that the goal of the draft is to build a roster to the point where you can go after a couple top free agents each year because the roster is so well built. It’s hard to see the Raiders investing a first round pick in a prime year for defense on a quarterback that won’t start for their first year. If a quarterback is available at seven, it’s likely Kentucky’s Will Levis. I like Levis more than most but it’s still not a smart pick, especially with a 24 year old who won’t start till they are 25. The team could explore a trade up to third overall after being interested in the first overall pick but the value might exceed their value of the third quarterback on the board be it Stroud, Young or Richardson. 

The Raiders could move up but it’s going to deplete a large portion of draft capital that could be used on defensive picks. If the team takes a rookie quarterback, the option of Hendon Hooker in the second round or investing a fourth rounder on someone such as Purdue’s Aiden O’Connell or Fresno State’s Jake Haener seems like a smarter investment.


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