The Oakland Raiders walked away from the first wave of free agency as consensus winners. They filled key position needs with the signings of guard Kelechi Osemele, corner Sean Smith and edge Bruce Irvin.
However, the team will need to carry that momentum into the 2016 NFL Draft. The young team will look to add depth and competition to the roster.
Here is a complete prediction for the Raiders eight picks in the April draft.
Round 1, pick 14 – Defensive Tackle Sheldon Rankins, Louisville
The Raiders will select the best player available at No. 14. Rankins took the draft world by storm with strong performances at the Senior Bowl and NFL Scouting Combine. He lined up outside and inside with Louisville. Expect the Raiders defense to utilize him in a similar role.
The Raiders may get tempted by flashier picks at corner or running back, but Reggie McKenzie and Jack Del Rio have histories of building up the trenches. Adding Rankins beside Dan Williams, Justin Ellis and Mario Edwards Jr. will make a lethal defensive line corps.
Alternate pick: Defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche, Ole Miss.
Round 2, pick 44 – Safety Su’o Cravens, USC
The Raiders lost hybrid safety and linebacker Taylor Mays in free agency. Oakland should add another down-hill safety like Cravens in the second round. Cravens looked good in coverage drills at the combine, despite average 40-yard-dash times at his pro day.
Ken Norton Jr. could utilize him as an in-the-box type safety in the mold of Seattle Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor. Del Rio should also get good intel on Cravens since they share the same alma mater.
Alternate pick: Safety Darian Thompson, Boise St.
Round 3, pick 75 – Running back Paul Perkins, UCLA
The Raiders flirted with running backs in free agency. They may need some fresh legs as the compliment to Latavius Murray.
Perkins brings a combination of athleticism and production. He compiled more than 2,900 rushing yards and 50 receptions in his last two seasons at UCLA. Perkins would bring value as a runner and receiver for the Raiders behind Murray.
Alternate pick: Running back C.J. Prosise, Notre Dame
Round 4, pick 114 – linebacker Scooby Wright, Arizona
Oakland could use another linebacker in the middle as Malcolm Smith and Ben Henney need another player to push them. Both players could be capable starters, but the Raiders should add another player to take their spot
Wright was a highly productive player at Arizona, until injuries took away his explosiveness in his final year with the Wildcats. Still, Wright warrants comparisons to another undersized linebacker named Zach Thomas. Thomas used instincts to dominate the league and Wright could too. The Raiders could even use him off the edge in some instances. Wright is the type of competitor the Raiders would love adding.
Alternate Pick: Linebacker Antonio Morrison, Florida
Round 5, pick 143 (from Dallas): Corner Rashard Robinson, LSU
Robinson could be a steal at this point in the draft. Robinson is a little light at only 171 pounds, and he did not play football in 2015. Yet Robinson brings a solid frame at 6 foot, one inch. He also made waves for LSU by starting as a freshmen and sophomore.
McKenzie may stray away from the character concerns, but it is only a fifth round pick. Robinson could come in and challenge for a nickel or dime position. At the very least, he develops into a solid special teams player. The Raiders will do their homework on him, but finding a productive player in the fifth round is rewarding.
Alternate pick: Cornerback James Bradberry, Samford
Round 5, pick 154: Center Evan Boheim, Missouri
Boheim is probably a little smaller than the Raiders like their offensive linemen at 6 foot, 2 inches and 205 pounds. However, he is a gritty and tough competitor out of the SEC, that would fit in the Raiders downhill block scheme.
Boheim provides depth along the Raiders interior offensive linemen. Remember the team lost backup center Tony Bergstrom. Hence, they will add a guy who can compete from day one. His ceiling may not be high, but Boheim will work and compete in camp. That is the type of player McKenzie will like to add with this luxury pick.
Alternate Pick: Linemen Graham Glasgow, Michigan
Round 6, pick 194 (from Indianapolis): Quarterback Cody Kessler, USC
The Raiders put a high tender on Matt McGloin. If the league is as high on him as the Raiders then he will not be Carr’s backup forever. The Raiders could do well to add another developmental player late.
Kessler was once one of the top projected players in his class. He started every game of his career at USC, but arm strength and pocket presence concerns killed his stock. The Raiders get a game manager at quarterback to push McGloin. Kessler is a smart football player who will make the right reads for the practice squad and scout team. Maybe he develops into something down the line.
Alternate Pick: Quarterback Brandon Allen, Arkansas
Round 7, pick 234: Receiver D’Haquille Williams, Auburn
Why not take a big-bodied receiver like Williams? He was dismissed from the team for question marks about his character, but maybe he learned from the experience. At this point, no player is a lock to make the team, so no one should care.
Williams brings the sort of potential that could develop into a solid starter down the line. Sounds like a juice worth the squeeze.
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