2018 Draft: Ranking Team Needs

Truth be told, I’ve had this piece sitting on ice since about Week 6, at the end of the Raiders’ then four game losing streak.

You see, to some (the minority), the way the 2017 season has played out isn’t necessarily a surprise. I pegged this team as a seven win-squad back in September.

Unfortunately, for a majority of fans, there are a lot of hurt feelings at the moment. For those folks, the overwhelming consensus was 10 or more wins, the AFC West crown, a deep playoff run, and a legitimate shot at the Super Bowl.

No sir, this season hasn’t been kind to the majority.

Close (unsustainable) victories in 2016, no impact or immediate return on investment from early 2017 draft selections, and an offseason largely spent failing to get better at key positions (a bad defense that somehow got worse?) is how you hang around at under .500 and have the timeline reaching for the panic button.

In an effort to stay on topic here, I’m not going to talk about how or why this team’s sitting at a disappointing six wins (which really could or should be four wins). I’m not going to talk about the coaching staff, or who I’d replace and hire, none of that. We’ll save that for some other time this offseason.

Instead, we’re here to talk about the roster, filling needs, and the draft.

Upon early viewing, the 2018 draft class, much like the 2017 Raiders, appears underwhelming. Now, granted, it’s still somewhat early in the #process, and evaluations are fluid. Nothing is set in stone quite yet.

Jogging your memory, this was my assessment heading into the 2017 Draft:

Now, with the appropriate disclaimers out of the way, here’s how I’d rank Oakland’s most pressing needs heading into the 2018 Draft:

Edge Defender

Despite having the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, the Raiders’ finished dead last (that’s 32 out of 32 teams) in sacks in 2016 with 25 total. Through Week 14, the Raiders have tallied a total of 26, which is good enough for (tied) 22nd.

Not great.

Embarrassing production in mind, nothing really changed personnel-wise for the Raiders during the offseason. Assistance on the edge was largely ignored, counting on the return of Mario Edwards Jr. along the defensive line and the presence of Bruce Irivn at SLB, I imagine.

Edwards has stayed healthy for the most part (injured his ankle against the Chiefs, Week 14) which is probably his biggest accomplishment thus far. He’s been a “factor”, I suppose, but you’re not skipping over talented pass rushers because you have Mario Edwards Jr. (and it’s not necessarily difficult to standout on this roster).

There’s not much to say or add about Bruce Irvin, simply because he’s a borderline non-factor. He is forgettable. He’s been trending in this direction since the end of last season. I will say that it’s been interesting that his “best ball” has come with Ken Norton Jr. no longer employed. I digress.

Given the struggles at the second level and throughout the secondary, it makes complete sense to bolster the front, and finally add some legitimate talent around Number 52. The lack of production can no longer be ignore. This is the Raiders’ most obvious hole on defense.

Name to know:

Bradley Chubb, North Carolina State — I prefer Brad Chubb over Harry Landry at the moment, personally (we know about the injury that’s been affecting the latter). Chubb looks like a top ten talent in this class and for the Raiders’, he’s the early “home run” nomination in my opinion.


Yes, I am aware that the Raiders’ selected a cornerback in the first round in 2017.

Yes, I am also aware that said cornerback hasn’t played any meaningful snaps to this point in this season, and was eventually placed on injured reserve.

Yes, I understand how depressing this all is.

No, I wouldn’t argue with you if you told me that cornerback was (still) the team’s most glaring need.

Not only is the Raiders’ secondary still bad, it’s actually on pace to be historically bad. See exhibit A and exhibit B. It would be a surprise if 21 was on the roster next season. Opposite clipboard-holder Sean Smith, David Amerson still is who he is and for my money, that’s not a starting-quality corner. He’s definitely not a cornerback that would keep me from drafting another one early in the draft. He’s a CB3 or 4 getting paid starting CB money. The jig, hopefully, is up. T.J. Carrie, much like our pal Amerson, is serviceable depth at best. Banking on starting snaps each weekend is so frustrating.

Name to know:

Carlton Davis, Auburn — Not a name many are familiar with at the moment but one that’s certainly been buzzing amongst those who are grinding #tape. He might make that Day 1 leap when all is said and done. Physical, man-to-man cover corners will always go high.

Interior Defensive Line

Rookie Eddie Vanderdoes was the talk of the offseason program and even flashed early on in the regular season. While he’s been quieter and quieter as the weeks have gone by, I’m at least interested in watching him progress. Worst case, a solid rotational piece.

Literally none of that holds true for sophomore defensive tackle Jihad Ward, who’s been a healthy scratch for a majority of the 2017 season. A reach on GM Reggie McKenzie’s part, I’m not sure we can factor him (Ward) into any future plans. He’s bad.

Justin Ellis and Darrius Latham present some depth options.

Much like defensive end, the Raiders could finally use some play-making talent along the interior. Could you imagine Khalil Mack with some consistent pressure coming up the middle? A luxury he’s never had. The Raiders are wasting the prime of Mack’s career watching him deal with double- and triple-teams on Sunday’s, getting mugged on every other snap. Enough’s enough.

Name to know:

Maurice Hurst, Michigan — Top five talent. I’d be surprised if he falls outside of the top ten. Plug him in and bully some teams.


This is the position that many will highlight at the top of their lists, I’m sure.

Oakland is very young (and not very talented) at linebacker. Those “green players” are logging plenty of work this season which may or may not pay dividends down the line. I wouldn’t suddenly bank on this staff developing prospects, however.

There’s also NaVorro Bowman. A player that obviously isn’t his former, All-Pro self, but one with some juice left in the tank. Turning 30 next year, depending how he closes out this season, I could see another cheap, one-year, “prove it”-type deal. Our buddy Vic is up in the air. Either way, Bowman’s best football is behind him, and the need still remains for the Raiders.

Couple all that with the general manager’s history and overall “philosophy” on drafting linebacker’s early (hint: he doesn’t), the chances that Oakland takes one off the board early enough to satisfy the masses feels unlikely.

Name to know:

Roquan Smith, Georgia — LB1 for me, and probably a player that makes his way into the top 15 talk. I still like those C.J. Mosley comparisons.

Offensive Tackle

I won’t spend too much time here, as I think Tice and this staff genuinely like the options on the roster (yuck). I’m not too intrigued by this 2018 class, either.

Donald Penn notably held out for a short period of time this past offseason before showing up and getting handed some additional cash for his loyalty. Coming off a dominant 2016 campaign, he earned it. In true 2017 fashion, because everything is bad in 2017, Penn simply hasn’t looked as sharp and the need for that contingency plan has become even realer as a result.

We know the right side of the line (right tackle) has been an issue for as long as we can remember.

Name to know:

Connor Williams, Texas — He’s the consensus top offensive tackle and what feels like a lock for the top ten or fifteen or something assuming he’s healthy. Not much of a surprise mention here. Drafting an offensive tackle in the first round will make plenty of fans angry enough and funny tweets will certainly follow, so I’m here for all that.

Running Back

It wouldn’t be an offseason without me rambling on about some running backs the Raiders really need to draft.

2017’s offering was really, really good. There was plenty of talent at the top, and some strong depth throughout.

2018 appears comparable, with the potential to be better, in my opinion.

The Raiders’ have two younger, similarly sized backs already on the roster in Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington. We have no idea if Marshawn Lynch will be back for another season, and I’m not sure if he’s even good anymore. Cordarrelle Patterson is getting work out of the backfield on some designed runs; a player who I think can be molded into that Ty Montgomery-type back, although that doesn’t appear to be in the cards moving forward.

Assuming Lynch does (officially) walk away from football after this season, running back becomes an obvious need, but one that probably falls down the list for the Raiders. Again, I think that largely has to do with McKenzie’s general philosophy (valuation) on the position, and the fact that this class appears deep enough once more.

Name to know:

John Kelly, Tennessee — JK’s trending toward my annual running back crush I think. Y’all know how I felt about Alvin Kamara coming out last year; a player I was higher on than the consensus, perhaps. That’s how my evaluation with Kelly’s trending at the moment. Complete runner, and one that should be available later on.

Now’s the part where you tell me I’m wrong.

Where do we differ?

What direction would you like this team to go in next spring?

Let’s talk about it.

Catch me on Twitter: @StillRyanFive


4 thoughts on “2018 Draft: Ranking Team Needs

  1. Am I the only one that sees WAR as a pretty big need? Roberts and Holton are bad, and Crab is probably going to start slowing down soon (if not already). I think investing a 3-5 round pick on a WR would be a good investment

  2. Ryan, I agree with your position assessments, however I do think you are missing two: WR and Safety.
    Nice, easy 1st round pickings, try to stretch into later round pickings. I assume that your highest requirement is CB? Do that for each round, and then we can have a good debate.
    Also, your assessment of Kimara was true, my only concern was toughness or strength. I wanted Cook in the 1st Dr.

  3. They may need Reggie to be real active this draft and not sit and pick at his allotted spots . He may need to trade up , back and up again to get enoigh players to fill the needs on rhis team because he’s not known for solidifying weaknesses through free agency . He likes the low ball approach and will settle for fringe players before doling out millions to an established star . He’s a shrewd GM who would rather try to solve his problems with middle tier players than mortgage the team’s future on one or 2 players . Really hasn’t worked out thus far so we’ll see if he changes his tactics this time around but I wouldn’t bet on it . If he wins in the draft this year , he may be staring 5 or 6 rookies in 2018 .

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