Raiders Players Who Will Be Most Impacted by 2022 NFL Draft Picks

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistApril 13, 2022

Raiders Players Who Will Be Most Impacted by 2022 NFL Draft Picks

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    New general manager Dave Ziegler wasted no time in putting his stamp on the Las Vegas Raiders roster. And the 2022 NFL draft will be the next step in his molding the roster to his liking.

    The Raiders have traded for Davante Adams and Rock Ya-Sin and signed Chandler Jones while saying goodbye to Yannick Ngakoue and Zay Jones.

    The team is without first- and second-round picks after the trade for Adams. However, they will still have five draft picks to work with, including two fifth-rounders.

    It's not much, but there's still a chance the Raiders will find some contributors. That also means there are a few veterans who are going to want to pay attention to the team's selections.

OT Alex Leatherwood

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    The Raiders have done work to bolster just about every unit on the field to this point, but the offensive line remains the biggest question mark on this team.

    The group finished 28th in Pro Football Focus' final rankings last season, but Las Vegas is on pace to bring back the same unit.

    The right side of the line is particularly interesting. The team tried to use 2021 first-round pick Alex Leatherwood at right tackle, but that didn't work out and he was moved inside to guard, where he still struggled. He finished the season with an abysmal 44.9 grade from PFF.

    This year, the front office has been noncommittal about where the 23-year-old will play.

    "We're not going to pigeonhole him into saying he's this or he's that," Ziegler told the media. "We're going to let him create an opportunity for himself, and we'll be excited to be able to work with him."

    If the Raiders draft an offensive lineman, it will tip their hand on where they believe Leatherwood will wind up. If the hypothetical rookie is good enough, he could force the Alabama product out of the lineup.

C Andre James

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    Because the Raiders don't have a first- or a second-round pick, Leatherwood's job is likely safe. It's hard to find a starting-caliber tackle in the third round of the draft.

    The same can't be said at center.

    Andre James is an example of that himself. He started 17 games last season and was fine despite being an undrafted free agent. The Pittsburgh Steelers found starting center Kendrick Green in the third round of the 2021 draft.

    A prospect like Kentucky's Luke Fortner (scouting report) or Chattanooga's Cole Strange (scouting report) could be available in the third or fourth round.

    James is not a terrible option. He ranked 20th among the centers PFF graded last year.

    However, it's a position the organization could feel they can upgrade in the draft despite limited capital.

DT Johnathan Hankins

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    The Raiders brought back Johnathan Hankins on a one-year deal, but that's far from a declaration that he will resume the role he played last year.

    The nose tackle started 14 games and played 58 percent of the snaps, per Football Reference. It was the lowest snap share the 30-year-old has seen since his rookie season in 2013. Depending on how the draft goes, he could be in an even smaller role next season.

    Hankins' age started to show last season. He provided nothing in the way of pass rush with no sacks and a career-low two quarterback hits. He wasn't that great in the run game, either, as he was ranked 91st among all interior defenders by PFF.

    Finding a nose tackle who specializes in stuffing the run is possible beyond the third round. Neil Farrell Jr. (scouting report) is an underrated target who makes sense. He could challenge Hankins for the starting 1-technique role right away.