The 2018 NFL Draft is just under a month away, which means that Draftmas is back. Draftmas will take a look at each NFL team heading into this year’s draft, what their needs are and who they could be targeting. Draftmas continues today with the Oakland Raiders 2018 NFL Draft profile.
The Raiders were a trendy pick to win the AFC West but failed to live up to expectations in 2017. They had some injuries and finished the season at 6-10. Oakland lured Jon Gruden out of the ESPN Monday Night Football booth to return to lead the silver and black.
Derek Carr hurt his back last season and missed a game, but needs to remain healthy in order for the Raiders to win big. One of his two favorite targets, Michael Crabtree, is now gone, but they may have gotten an upgrade with Jordy Nelson. The other, Amari Cooper, had a down season. Jared Cook gives Carr a decent tight end, but more weapons will be needed.
Marshawn Lynch is expected to return at running back. He shook off the rust from his one-year retirement to rush for 891 yards. Doug Martin was signed from Tampa Bay, giving the Raiders a good one-two punch. They also have Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington, who are good third down backs. They will be running behind a solid offensive line, that needs a little bit of help.
The defensive line also needs a little bit of help on the interior. Defensive tackle has been a need for a while and with Gruden’s 4-3 system that relied on Warren Sapp in Tampa Bay, they need to get a star. Khalil Mack is one of the league’s best players off the edge and totaled 10.5 sacks last season. He will need some more help getting after the quarterback.
While they have signed a few linebackers in free agency, including Tahir Whitehead, but will likely need at least one more, even if only for depth purposes.
They have signed some corners to help their depth, but they don’t have any elite talent at the position. Karl Joseph and Marcus Gilchrist should be able to anchor the safety position for the Raiders in the 2018 season.
Picks and Needs
Gruden will have 11 picks in the 2018 NFL Draft to start building the team the way he sees fit. With a good draft and a healthy Carr, the Raiders can be contenders once again.
First round (1 pick): 10
Second round (1): 41
Third round (1): 75
Fourth round (1): 110
Fifth round (2): 159, 173
Sixth round (4): 185, 212, 216, 217
Seventh round (1): 228
Wide receiver- They have two solid receivers in Nelson and Cooper, but will need more depth and guys they can play in the slot.
Offensive tackle- Donald Penn is old on the left side of the line and a right tackle is needed now. The line will still be solid if this isn’t addressed, but in order to keep Carr healthy, it would be wise to invest in a right tackle.
Defensive tackle- Eddie Vanderdoes and Justin Ellis don’t really strike fear into opponents. If the Raiders want a truly dominant defense, this need has to be filled.
Linebacker- Tahir Whitehead was signed and they have some depth, but their outside linebackers aren’t great.
Cornerback- This has been a position of need for some time now. The Raiders drafted Gareon Conley last year, but he was injured for a lot of last season. Their defense could be so much better with one shutdown corner on the field.
Pick No. 10: Vita Vea, DT/NT, Washington
The Raiders need that interior presence on the defensive line. Vea is huge at 6’4″ and 347 pounds, but he is mobile enough to be more than just a gap stuffer. With some work and training, Vea can be that dominant force at defensive tackle for Gruden’s defense. This will take some of the blockers off of Mack and allow him more one on one opportunities to get to the quarterback.
Pick No. 41: Mike Hughes, CB, UCF
Yes, they drafted Conley last year, but Oakland still needs a corner. Hughes has garnered rave reviews, even from Deion Sanders at the NFL Combine. He spent one year at UNC before going to UCF and playing one season there. In 2017 he had four interceptions, was a good returner and helped shut down some good receivers down the stretch for the Golden Knights. He presents good value in the second round and can be a future Pro Bowler.
Pick No. 75: Martinas Rankin, OT, Mississippi State
Rankin was one of the best pass blockers in college football last season. He helped protect Nick Fitzgerald, which in turn allowed him to become a star. He isn’t the biggest tackle but would be a nice pick to help make a good offensive line even better.
The Raiders aren’t too far off from being a contender again. In Gruden’s first draft since leaving ESPN, he can fill a few holes and try to get the Raiders back to the playoffs.