Raiders' Team Needs to Fill in 2021 NFL Draft

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IMarch 29, 2021

Raiders' Team Needs to Fill in 2021 NFL Draft

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    Isaac Brekken/Associated Press

    It's been an eventful offseason thus far for the Las Vegas Raiders. They traded away a starting offensive lineman (center Rodney Hudson). They've added some offensive playmakers, such as running back Kenyan Drake and wide receiver John Brown. And they've bolstered a pass rush that needed it, signing defensive end Yannick Ngakoue.

    But there's still more for Las Vegas to do before the start of the 2021 season. While it may not be too active in free agency the rest of the way (or if it is, it may not sign any big-time players), it will still be able to add to its roster during the 2021 NFL draft, which is set for April 29-May 1.

    The Raiders have a strong core that they're building around. It may not have led to postseason appearances yet (although they came close to making the playoffs the past two years), there's reason for optimism for the franchise moving forward. And it will have the opportunity to add more talented young players during the draft.

    Here's a look at Las Vegas' biggest needs it'll need to address in the NFL draft next month.


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    Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

    The Raiders' offensive line has lost some noteworthy players this offseason. In addition to Hudson, the team also traded away tackles Duane Brown and Marcus Cannon. So they'll need to bring in some players to help fill those voids and to build around moving forward.

    Las Vegas signed Nick Martin, who has started 62 games at center for the Houston Texans over the past four seasons, so it will have somebody to take over Hudson's job. But it could benefit from adding a tackle early in the draft, potentially even with its first pick at No. 17 overall.

    Oklahoma State's Teven Jenkins and Virginia Tech's Christian Darrisaw could be among the tackles who the Raiders could go for in the middle of the first round, and either would give them a building block up front. It's also a move that would benefit them for both the short and long term.

    With Richie Incognito (37 years old) and Denzelle Good (30) among Las Vegas' top guards, it could also try to get younger at those positions, although it could wait until a later round. But the Raiders need to at least add a tackle and some depth players on the offensive line to help build the unit back up.


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    Adam Hunger/Associated Press

    There are a few solid players already in the Raiders' linebacker corps, including Cory Littleton, Nick Kwiatkoski and Nicholas Morrow. But this is still an area in which Las Vegas needs to improve, as there were plenty of holes on its defense heading into the offseason.

    The Raiders' front seven has already improved with the addition of Ngakoue, and they have some other young talent on the defensive line who have the potential to develop into strong players. But they're lacking some of that depth at linebacker, so they're likely going to be looking to add one or two during the draft.

    Perhaps Las Vegas would consider taking a linebacker in the first round, depending on how the picks in front of it unfold. There are some strong linebackers in this year's class who would likely give the Raiders an immediate defensive boost, such as Penn State's Micah Parsons or Kentucky's Jamin Davis.

    So don't be surprised if Las Vegas adds to its linebacker corps during the draft, particularly in the first few rounds, as it needs strong players there to fit in new defensive coordinator Gus Bradley's scheme.


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    Isaac Brekken/Associated Press

    The Raiders' secondary needs some help in the back at the safety positions. They lost Lamarcus Joyner during free agency, Johnathan Abram hasn't yet lived up to potential and Jeff Heath is likely better suited for a reserve role rather than manning one of the two starting spots.

    Because Abram is a former first-round draft pick who is still only 24, it's unlikely Las Vegas will look to replace him, as he should get opportunities to keep improving. But the Raiders could look to the draft for a starting free safety, or at least somebody who can develop while Heath plays in the short term.

    It's a need that Las Vegas will likely look to address in the first few rounds. It may also aim to add a cornerback at some point in the draft, as that's another area of its defense that could be improved before the 2021 season gets underway.

    If the Raiders add a safety and improve a few other of these areas on their defense, there's reason to believe the unit will potentially start to play better in the near future.