2019 Draft: Breaking Down the Day 1 Options

As of this writing, the Raiders are walking into the first-round with three selections (and four total inside the top-35). That’s the type of haul that any team and front office would salivate over, and it’s the reason why I don’t quite understand the trade-down option this year. The Raiders’ roster, even after some offseason spending by way of free agency, still has many holes, notably on the defensive side of the ball. While adding more draft capital is never a bad thing per se, passing on talented players also feels sub-optimal. Oakland needs depth. They also badly need talent; true, consistent, difference-making talent. Trust your board and pick the best player available. Don’t get cute.

Below is how I’d approach each of the Raiders three, first-round selections, factoring in the various scenarios and range of outcomes. For the sake of this exercise, let’s use a simple grading scale:

“Home run” – Self-explanatory. This type of selection would represent one of the best case scenarios at that particular draft slot. I’d consider these players a “home run” due to their obvious talent and projected impact, but also because I find their availability at said draft slot unlikely.

“I get it” – Not a “great” pick by any stretch, but not necessarily a pick I’d be “upset” over, either. It’s not flashy, but it makes sense.

“No thank you” – Also self-explanatory. This would be like, say, drafting a project offensive tackle over a consensus, top-tier, difference-making defender. The type of selection that could arguably set a franchise back; a bad, inexcusable miss.

4th Overall

“Home run”

This one is easy. There are three, elite, blue-chip players in this year’s class for my money: Quinnen Williams, Nick Bosa, and Ed Oliver. Any one of those three at four overall and I’m ecstatic. If Oakland stays at four, you’re looking at one of them, if not two. That’s a tough choice, but doesn’t need to be made tougher by attempting to slide down. There’s also the quarterback tangent here. We know Jon Gruden loves the position (his “favorite quarterback is the next quarterback”). We also know that he may or may not be married to Derek Carr. We also know the Raiders just splurged on offensive upgrades in order to bolster Carr’s chances of success. We also know that Gruden is going to do whatever it is he pleases, and nobody really knows what that is. I’d consider Kyler Murray, my QB1, a home run at 4 (or 1 overall, depending if they move up and what they have to give up to get there). I could also be talked into Murray as the fourth, blue-chip prospect this year. The other quarterback of note, QB2 Dwayne Haskins, also makes sense here. He’s a borderline home run selection for me, but given the positional importance, he gets the nod. If you’ve been following me this offseason, you know how I feel about the quarterback situation and Carr going forward.

“I get it”

Brian Burns and Montez Sweat would each fill the most obvious need for the Raiders. While I think they can both be considered “home runs”, I also believe there is a clear drop-off after Joey Bosa’s younger brother and the next edge rusher, so I figured it would only be right to tier them out here as well. The true “I get it” player at this spot is Kentucky’s Josh Allen. I know there are plenty who are falling over themselves after his senior campaign, and just given the position he plays. But it comes back to those tiers for me. I think 4 is a little early, especially with Burns and Sweat sitting there.

“No thank you”

Any linebacker, bad pick. Any cornerback, bad pick. Any wide receiver, especially given the offseason additions, bad pick. Any offensive linemen (tackles or interior), mainly because Tom Cable is still employed, is a bad pick. Really, I’d be kinda bummed if someone like Devin White was the pick here. Rashan Gary was someone I was high on throughout the offseason, as well. He tested very well at the Combine, as was expected. He’s a special athlete along the defensive line but he also carries legitimate concerns, notably production-based. I think 27 overall makes a lot more sense for his services, but that may even still be looked at as “early”.

24th Overall

“Home run”

This year’s LB1, Devin Bush, is the name I keep coming back to. The home run pick. He made the leap over White at the position after his dominance at the Combine, coupled with the strong tape. Unfortunately, I think he’s going inside the top-10 or 15 (teams like Denver, Cincinnati, or maybe even Green Bay make a lot of sense). Both Iowa tight ends, Noah Fant and T.J. Hockenson, would also be smash picks. If the Raiders opt to pass on an edge defender at 4, I’m interested in Clemson’s Clelin Ferrell. Jerry Tillery tested very well in Indianapolis (125 pSPARQ score on a bum shoulder) and would give Oakland an intriguing, young duo paired with Mo Hurst. Lastly, while I’m not touching a wide receiver at 4 overall, some names start to emerge and present value in this range. My favorite fit, arguably, is A.J. Brown, who’d immediately operate out of the slot and could give the Raiders the most dangerous trio in the league (something Gruden would smile about, I’m sure). You can add Ohio State’s Parris Campbell to the list as far as good fits are concerned. No player at the position has risen more for me over the last several weeks than Campbell. Think a bigger, faster, stronger Curtis Samuel.

“I get it”

There are a few other wide receivers that I could see Gruden gravitate toward, namely D.K. Metcalf and Hakeem Butler. Both are big, freaky athletes who offer some of the highest ceilings in the class. N’Keal Harry, my WR1 this year, could also be in play here. Although his positional ranking may suggest a “home run” selection, I just prefer to aforementioned names fit-wise, even if slightly. This is also probably the range where you’re starting to keep an eye on cornerbacks. Byron Murphy and Greedy Williams are the consensus top names, and I’d understand if either one was taken off the board at this point.

“No thank you”

I’m less critical of these picks moving forward. Without debate, you’d hate to see an obvious reach, but I’m more focused on not botching a top-5 selection (sounds easy enough). The board will surely “thin out”, but it’s still about sticking to the basics: No running backs (yes, that includes the “consensus” favorite, Josh Jacobs), and we’re still not letting Cable get his hands on any more early-round offensive linemen.

27th Overall

“Home run”

Truth be told, you could take Jefferey Simmons at 24 overall and it’d be a home run. Depending how the board falls at the top, you could also probably talk me into Simmons at 4 overall. When healthy, I had him as a top-5 talent – easy. Now, with the offseason ACL injury, in addition to the off-field, character-type concerns, he’s surely going to see a slide. He’ll still settle in the top-10 for me, simply because I have no access to any sort of medicals (I just have a Twitter account, you guys), but it’s anyone guess how NFL team’s view his stock. Putting the Simmons scenario aside, my favorite pick at 27 might be Juan Thornhill, my top-graded safety for 2019. His versatility is a plus but it’s his Obi Melifonwu-like athleticism, in addition to his ball skills, that will allow him to play the deep-half of the field, an area where Reggie Nelson’s lack of speed has shown up more often than not. It should go without saying that any of the names that appeared previously would still be considered a home run at this point of the draft.

“I get it”

There are a few other safety’s that I’d look at in this range: Nasir Adderley, Darnell Savage Jr., and Taylor Rapp. Other than that group, Michigan edge defender Chase Winovich just “feels” like a Mike Mayock-type of player, and I could see him banging the table for his services. With a surprisingly disappointing Combine under his belt, tight end Irv Smith Jr. might be a selection that would frustrate the majority at this spot, but I think Gruden could talk himself into the bloodlines and his Alabama pedigree, especially considering Jared Cook’s departure. Lastly, circling back around to the wide receiver position, assuming it’s bypassed prior: Andy Isabella, Deebo Samuel, and Hollywood Brown are three names that could fall in line. Gruden talked-up Isabella at the Senior Bowl, and we know all about the connection with Brown (related to the Raiders’ current Brown). Any of these three coming off the board at 27 would be early for my liking, but at the same time, I don’t think Gruden would be able to help himself if the right one (in his evaluation) was there.

“No thank you”

Keep passing on running backs while also simultaneously ignoring Cable and I’d consider Day 1 a success.

What would your perfect (somewhat realistic) first-round haul look like?

Catch me on Twitter: @StillRyanFive


3 thoughts on “2019 Draft: Breaking Down the Day 1 Options

  1. My first round pick would be Gruden playing golf somewhere without a cell phone. Coaches coach. Mayock was hired for this very Draft. Let the man do his job John, you do yours.

  2. I like Noah Fant but honestly I like Irv Smith Jr out of Alabama over T.J. Hockenson and we could get him at #34.
    Give me two meat eating defensive linemen, a corner that can tackle in the open field and a receiving TE in the first four picks and I’ll show you a winning record…

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