Oakland Raiders' Mock Draft: Final 7-Round Predictions
It’s time for the final dress rehearsal. The draft is less than 24 hours away and Oakland Raiders fans are anxiously awaiting to find out what general manager Reggie McKenzie will do with the fourth overall pick.
Could it be Leonard Williams, Amari Cooper or a trade down?
This is the last mock draft and it’s based on realistic predictions, not my personal approach. The idea was to get inside the head of the Raiders’ front office people in the war room.
McKenzie has been mum on his draft strategy, but some of the voids on the roster can’t be overlooked. Will the Raiders GM strike gold as he did in 2014? Or will he strike out?
We’ll examine the most likely scenarios for the Raiders’ next installment of players from the 2015 draft.
No. 4 Overall Pick: Amari Cooper (WR/Alabama)
The talk about Dante Fowler as the preferred pick for the Jacksonville Jaguars hasn’t come from the front office, but from analysts connecting his ability to play the LEO position under Gus Bradley.
Unfortunately, it’s all speculation, and the Jaguars will likely choose the most impactful player on the board, which is Williams out of Southern California.
Cooper would then become the unanimous choice for the Raiders.
Most analysts preach about defense winning championships—and it does. However, McKenzie will have the opportunity to get his developing second-year quarterback a reliable offensive playmaker capable of lining up in a variety of WR positions.
In the short-term, Cooper is ready to play in the NFL out of the gate and has the skill set of a No. 1 WR the Raiders need. In the long-term, Cooper and Derek Carr should be a solid QB-WR tandem for nearly a decade in Oakland.
No. 35 Overall Pick: A.J. Cann (OG/South Carolina)
Austin Howard shifting back to tackle leaves the guard position open for a draftee to step in and contribute immediately.
A.J. Cann is an athletic guard who can be effective in a power-rushing scheme, which benefits Trent Richardson.
Richardson had his best NFL season rushing behind an offensive line with a 32.3 run-block rating per Pro Football Focus. The Browns offensive line was rated minus -10.1 the following season. The Indianapolis Colts offensive line was rated minus -7.7 in 2014.
Solidifying the offensive line should help keep Carr off his back. It will also resuscitate Richardson's career as a power RB.
No. 68 Overall Pick: Nate Orchard (DE/Utah)
Head coach Jack Del Rio is confident Khalil Mack’s switch to defensive end will show off his much-needed pass-rushing skills.
According to silverandblackpride.com’s Levi Damien, Mack played on the defensive line and will see increased snaps at the position going forward:
[Mack] plays defensive end already for us in sub packages. So I think it would be natural for him to be able to play whatever we decide is best for him," Del Rio said Tuesday at the league owners meetings. "However it helps the team best, he's gonna play. Last year the number of sub snaps in the league has gone up dramatically each year. I think we're up to close to 70% now of your snaps you're facing three and four receiver sets and so your sub packages where Khalil is and end is the one that really is the most prominent. So, he definitely has shown he's got the ability to be an edge rusher, a defensive end he is that in that capacity. I feel like it's however we want to be utilize him and who we have around him as well.
The Raiders still need a full-time pass-rusher or specialist, despite the move and potential success in Mack’s new role.
Nate Orchard isn’t a polished product, but he has the ability to attack the offensive line with speed and strength to rack up sacks. Accumulating 18.5 sacks in a tough Pac-12 Conference shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Solid coaching should keep Orchard relevant as an edge-rusher. He’ll become the heir to Justin Tuck’s position or the immediate starter if the injury bug strikes.
No. 102 Overall Pick: Nick O’Leary (TE/Florida State)
Nick O’Leary is perceived as a tough, hard-nosed tight end capable of becoming a true battering ram in the NFL as an H-back type of tight end.
What’s often overlooked are his receiving numbers in Florida State’s pro-style offense. He amassed 1,175 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns in his last two years with the Seminoles. O’Leary was a viable receiver and red-zone threat with Jameis Winston under center.
He’ll step in as a much better pass-protector and in-line blocker than Mychal Rivera. Picking up O’Leary is a cheaper, younger and healthier alternative to signing Jermaine Gresham as a free agent on the mend.
No. 140 Overall Pick: Vince Mayle (WR/Washington State)
McKenzie choosing two WRs in this draft makes a lot of sense. Michael Crabtree is on a one-year prove-it deal. Rod Streater is in a contract year. James Jones’ Green Bay Packer days are far behind him and so are his seasons as an impact receiver in the league.
All these questions should give the Raiders’ front office enough reason to add an additional WR to Cooper. Vince Mayle is a solid red-zone threat also capable of moving the chains on third down.
At 6’3” and 219 pounds, Mayle could be the muscle behind Cooper’s finesse. Cooper is a more refined WR and Mayle is a rugged WR who will gain the tough yards over the middle.
The Washington State receiver recorded 1,483 yards and nine touchdowns in his breakout senior year. Starting off to a slow start wouldn’t be a deathblow with Streater and Crabtree leading the receiver corps, but Mayle has the upside and opportunity to carve out a spot as a possession receiver out of the slot.
No. 179 Overall Pick: Damian Swann (CB/Georgia)
The Raiders didn’t pursue a starting cornerback during free agency. McKenzie is showing tremendous confidence in D.J. Hayden, Travis Carrie and Keith McGill in the secondary.
However, Hayden’s injury history and the inexperience of Carrie and McGill could require shifting the secondary around to avoid explosive passing attacks.
Oakland needs a physical CB who can jam and disrupt WR routes before they develop. McGill has the stature to become that type of defender, but for good measure Damian Swann could step into the CB rotation if Hayden goes down with another injury.
NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein confirms Swann’s ability to defend bigger receivers:
Natural corner who has played and can play all over field. Played in the box in dime package and used as deep safety on a few snaps. Good length pressing and crowding receivers to the sideline. At his best as bump-and-run corner playing inside leverage. Thin but physical in run support. Covered big receivers and tight ends from the slot. Blitzes like a heat-seeking missile.
No. 221 Overall Pick: Zach Vigil (ILB/Utah State)
Zach Vigil won’t challenge Curtis Lofton for the starting job, but he provides much-needed depth at the inside linebacker position. Lofton is the only true ILB on the roster.
Adding Vigil should expand the Raiders’ defensive personnel options, mixing in some 3-4 schemes for more run support and intermediate pass-route coverage.
In his senior year at Utah State, Vigil was able to crush ball-carriers behind the line of scrimmage, racking up 20.5 tackles resulting in a loss. He was also an effective pass-rusher with nine sacks. If Vigil recorded those numbers at a powerhouse school, his draft projection would be higher than a sixth- to seventh-round pick.
McKenzie does his homework on non-powerhouse prospects and Vigil should be on his Day 3 big board to fill in depth at the linebacker position.
You can compare this final mock draft with the Bleacher Report Community mock draft and hope for the best between the two. What do you think of the final mock? What do you think transpires from Day 1 to Day 3 of the draft? Tweet your thoughts to Maurice’s twitter.