Raiders' Top 2021 NFL Draft Targets

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IApril 26, 2021

Raiders' Top 2021 NFL Draft Targets

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    Isaac Brekken/Associated Press

    Having come close to reaching the NFL playoffs the past two years, the Las Vegas Raiders are looking to make the necessary moves this offseason to get them back to the postseason soon.

    They have added some key players during free agency and will now bring in a wave of young talent during the 2021 NFL draft.

    The draft will take place Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and the Raiders have eight picks during the first six rounds. With several areas needing to be addressed (offensive line, linebacker, safety), Las Vegas will try to fill some of its holes and acquire players it can build around for the future.

    Head coach Jon Gruden is entering his fourth season since returning to the Raiders. This will be an important draft for him and general manager Mike Mayock, as the two look to keep leading Las Vegas in the right direction and take another step forward in 2021.

    As the draft nears, here's a look at three players who should be among the Raiders' top targets.

Trevon Moehrig, S, TCU

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    Maybe the Raiders will consider an offensive lineman with the No. 17 overall pick. But the right decision should be to draft Trevon Moehrig, who would provide a much-needed boost to the back of their secondary and could become the team's starting free safety for many years.

    Free safety isn't a deep position in this year's draft class, so if the Raiders are going to add one who is capable of starting soon, they're going to need to take the 21-year-old with their first pick.

    And as's Lance Zierlein noted, Moehrig is capable of playing in "a variety of coverages," which would bring versatility to Las Vegas' secondary.

    "His talent might be best served as a high safety where his instincts and anticipation lead him to the football," Zierlein wrote. "He's a talented ball tracker with soft hands and does a very good job of maintaining balance and positioning to make a play."

    Moehrig played 34 games over his three seasons at TCU, compiling 125 tackles, seven interceptions and 28 pass deflections. He was a first-team All-American in 2020, which helped solidify his status as a probable first-round draft pick.

    By drafting Moehrig, Las Vegas could move Jeff Heath into a reserve role, making its defense deeper. That should help the Raiders' secondary take a big step forward in 2021.

Brady Christensen, OT, BYU

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    Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

    If the Raiders don't draft an offensive lineman in the first round, they need to do so in the second round. Their biggest need up front is at right tackle, as they need somebody better than Brandon Parker (who would currently be the starter) to hold down that position.

    Brady Christensen could be a great fit for Las Vegas, and he'll likely be on the board when it's on the clock at No. 48. Because of a two-year church mission before beginning his college football career, he is entering the NFL at the age of 24, which is older than many draft prospects.

    But the BYU product has experience that could help him quickly step in and start for the Raiders. The 6'6", 300-pound tackle played 38 games for the Cougars over the past three seasons and was a first-team All-American in 2020, helping to protect quarterback Zach Wilson and leading the team to a strong offensive season.

    It's possible Christensen would be a bit of a reach at No. 48. So if Las Vegas wants to take him, it could trade down a bit, acquire some more draft capital and then take its probable future starting right tackle. That may be the best decision for the Raiders early on the second day of the draft.

Pete Werner, LB, Ohio State

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    In the third round, Las Vegas will have back-to-back selections with the Nos. 79 and 80 picks.

    One of those could used on a linebacker if they haven't taken one in the first or second round.

    Pete Werner played 47 games over his four seasons at Ohio State. He had at least 54 tackles in each of the past three years and reached that total in 2020, despite playing in only eight games because of the Buckeyes' shortened season.

    Not only did the 21-year-old play a lot at Ohio State, but he also lined up at all three linebacker positions in the Buckeyes' defense. He may not be the most talented LB in the draft class, but he possesses skills that would be valuable for the Las Vegas defense.

    "He's a physical striker with adequate trigger twitch," Zierlein wrote. "Werner has the talent and demeanor to compete for a roster spot as a backup strong-side linebacker and full-time special teamer."

    And perhaps Werner will prove he deserves an even bigger role once he gets on to the field for the Raiders.