Prospects for Raiders to Avoid in 2021 NFL Draft

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IApril 12, 2021

Prospects for Raiders to Avoid in 2021 NFL Draft

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    David Becker/Associated Press

    So far this offseason, the Las Vegas Raiders have addressed some of the biggest holes on their roster. However, they still have positions of need and areas that they could strengthen before the 2021 season arrives.

    While it's possible the Raiders could still be active on the free-agent market, many of their upcoming acquisitions are likely to come via the 2021 NFL draft, which will take place April 29-May 1. Las Vegas will first be on the clock at No. 17 overall, and it has eight selections over the three-day event.

    It'll be important for the Raiders to make the right decisions and draft players who end up becoming core pieces for them moving forward. They've been close to reaching the playoffs the past two seasons, but they came up short both times. Now, Las Vegas has had a solid offseason, and with a strong draft, it could push closer to getting back to the postseason.

    But the Raiders can't afford to draft any potential busts or to leave major holes on their roster. So on that note, here are several players who Las Vegas should avoid taking during this year's draft.

Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama

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    Butch Dill/Associated Press

    Last year, the Raiders took an Alabama wide receiver in the first round of the NFL draft. And while they may have the opportunity to do the same thing this year, that wouldn't be their best move.

    With Henry Ruggs III heading into his second season (as well as fellow 2020 draft pick Bryan Edwards), Las Vegas already has young talent with a ton of potential in its receiving corps. So even if a receiver as talented as Waddle is still on the board when the Raiders are on the clock at No. 17, they shouldn't take him, as there are other positions that would be better to address.

    Plus, Waddle and Ruggs have similar skill sets, so it may not be the best fit to have both on the field at the same time. And Ruggs flashed his big-play potential during the 2020 season, so the Raiders should be optimistic about the strides he could make next season.

    Las Vegas could benefit from adding a receiver late on the second day of the draft, or potentially waiting until the third day, to add depth and another high-potential player for its offense. But the Raiders should pass on Waddle and any other top-tier receivers who they could have an opportunity to take when they're on the clock.

Greg Newsome II, CB, Northwestern

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    Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    While Newsome has the potential to develop into a strong NFL cornerback, it could possibly take some time before that happens. He played in only 21 games during his time at Northwestern, so he doesn't have much experience, and that could lead to him having a bit longer of a transition to the pro level.

    At this point, the Raiders have a solid secondary. They could benefit from adding a defensive back or two in the draft, but they're still addressing the group via free agency, as they brought back safety Karl Joseph last week, which could give them a boost.

    Because of his potential, Newsome is likely to be a first-round selection in the draft. And if he does fall, it shouldn't be farther than early in the second round, as he's one of the top handful of cornerbacks in this year's class.

    Still, Las Vegas needs help on the offensive line and has some other more glaring holes on its defense. So it should address those positions earlier in the draft and wait to take a cornerback until the middle rounds (potentially late on the second day or early on the third).

Gregory Rousseau, DE, Miami

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    Chris Seward/Associated Press

    Here's another inexperienced college player who is likely to be drafted early because of his potential. Rousseau opted out of the 2020 season (played amid the coronavirus pandemic), so he ended up appearing in only 14 games during his time at Miami.

    If the Raiders hadn't addressed their pass rush early in free agency, then perhaps it would be worth taking a risk on Rousseau or another top defensive end and maybe even trade up to ensure that they could select one. Las Vegas' defensive front was one of its biggest weaknesses in 2020 and was an area that it needed to improve this offseason.

    But the Raiders have brought in defensive ends Yannick Ngakoue and Solomon Thomas, as well as defensive tackle Quinton Jefferson. So they should already be in a position to put more pressure on opposing quarterbacks in 2021.

    While Las Vegas may still want to add a pass rusher during the draft, it shouldn't be early, and it should be a player with more experience than Rousseau, who could potentially become a contributor and join its rotation on the edges in the near future.