The 2021 NFL Draft begins on April 29, which means that The Game Haus will be writing draft profiles for every team. Each NFL team will be evaluated heading into this year’s draft, as our staff recaps their last season, highlights their needs and pinpoints their potential 2021 NFL Draft targets. The Las Vegas Raiders are the subject of today’s 2021 NFL Draft profile.
Despite their 8-8 record, the Las Vegas Raiders had some bright spots in 2020. Running back Josh Jacobs and tight end Darren Waller both emerged as premiere offensive talents. They both earned Pro Bowl nods and played so well that opposing teams will surely try to draft players to replicate them. They also beat two projected Super Bowl contenders in the Saints and the division rival (and then-reigning champion) Kansas City Chiefs.
On the flip side, Damon Arnette, the second round corner failed to impress and Jon Gruden yet again could not obtain a winning season. Plus, their very first season in a new city and a new stadium (dubbed the “Death Star” by fans and media) was marred by a pandemic, meaning no one was in the stands to welcome them to Las Vegas.
Their offseason has been a roller coaster, as they lost most of their offensive line, but managed to bolster their defensive line. There have been some questionable moves and some home runs, but it all amounts to about the same level of talent the team had last year. Here is how they can use their first four picks to put them over that talent cap.
2021 NFL Picks
Las Vegas will have four picks to use in the first three rounds of the 2021 NFL Draft.
First Round (one pick): No. 17
Second Round (one pick): No. 48
Third Round (two picks): Nos. 79 & 80
Defensive line- With the rise of players like Aaron Donald to superstardom from the defensive tackle position is making teams realize they need players at every position on the line that can get to the quarterback. Plus, in a division with Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert they will need all the disruption they can get. Quinton Jefferson, Solomon Thomas and Yannick Ngakoue were all signed, but adding another defensive lineman in the draft could make this line truly special.
Offensive line- The Raiders lost Rodney Hudson, Gabe Jackson and Trent Brown in trades during this offseason. They will need some replacements and quickly. Derek Carr thrives when he is protected well and losing three-fifths of the line could lead to some regression if those two are not replaced with some quality players.
Wide receiver- Nelson Agholor was surprisingly effective during his time with the Raiders. They lost him to the Patriots during their historic spending spree. Tyrell Williams is also gone, as was expected. Gruden is an offensive coach that likes to pile up weapons, so expect them to mitigate those losses in the draft.
2021 Draft Targets
Pick No. 17: Christian Barmore, DL, Alabama
This one is easy. With all of the moves being made (and those yet to be made) near the top of the draft to secure quarterbacks and skill positions, the most talented defensive lineman in the draft could fall to Las Vegas. They should not hesitate here.
As stated above, the Raiders’ defensive line only needs one more piece to become truly special. Barmore can be that guy and then some. Just like Clelin Ferrell, he is a national champion defensive lineman who proved he can get after the quarterback at the collegiate level. If Barmore is off the board, the Raiders can ride with Ferrell and their other signed talent and maybe take Kwity Paye, the linebacker out of Michigan.
Pick No. 49: Dillon Radunz, OT, North Dakota State
This one isn’t so easy. Radunz is slowly climbing up draft boards as scouts are finally watch him play. Since he played at North Dakota State, he does not get much run in the media. But the fact that he blocked for a potential top five pick in the draft (Trey Lance) has made people notice him.
If he falls to the Raiders here, they should take Radunz. He is a first-round talent that is undervalued just because of the lack of media attention he got at school. If he does not fall to them here, expect Las Vegas to take a wide receiver or cornerback with this pick and double down on offensive linemen with their two consecutive picks in the third round.
Pick No. 79: Seth Williams, WR, Auburn
Following the model presented above, the Raiders can find their Nelson Agholor replacement with the 79th pick. Williams and Agholor have very similar skill sets, as they both like to line up outside and challenge cornerbacks. The main difference between the two is the three extra inches of height that Williams provides over their previous wide out. Expect Williams and Carr to use this advantage on 50-50 balls.
Pick No. 80: Ben Cleveland, OG, Georgia
Cleveland is an excellent replacement on the line for a team that plays like the Raiders do. He is very athletic for an NFL-sized guard and can easily start Week 1. The main concern that plummets him to the third round is his weight. If he does not keep up his strength training, he may be bull rushed by bigger defensive linemen in the NFL. But this is a risk worth taking in the third round.
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