Mocking the Mocks: “Way-Too-Early” 2018 Edition

I collected over a dozen different analyst’s (crazy people) early attempts at a 2018 mock draft. Below, you’ll read about a handful of players that Raiders’ fans, or fans of college football and the draft in general, should make note of entering the 2017 season.

Matt Miller, Bleacher Report

Full mock draft here.

The pick: LB Azeem Victor, Washington

Author’s commentary: “It’s mind-boggling that the Raiders didn’t address the linebacker position early in the 2017 draft. You can go ahead and pencil this one in as the team’s top need for next year.

Azeem Victor will be coming back from a broken leg in 2017, but when healthy last year, he was very impressive as the captain of the ship on a very talented Washington defense. He’s an attacker coming downhill but has the quicks to play in space and drop into coverage against tight ends. That’s exactly what the Raiders needed and still don’t have following a draft that focused on improving the secondary.

A young wide receiver prospect wouldn’t be a bad move here either depending on how the team sees Seth Roberts as a long-term option.”

My take: You can probably insert any one of a dozen different linebackers here, and you’ll be satisfying a majority of the fan base, I’m sure. Linebacker will be the biggest need for the Raiders in 2018. I’m confident saying that now. Azeem Victor, for whatever it’s worth, would’ve been my LB1 in 2017. The 2018 options at linebacker appear to be (a lot) better, and I’ll be interested to see how Victor plays coming off the leg injury. Quickly: I’m onboard with the wide receiver route that was suggested toward the end, as well.

Chris Burke, Sports Illustrated

Full mock draft here.

The pick: RB Derrius Guice, Louisiana State

Author’s commentary: “There are people who will tell you that Guice, not Leonard Fournette, was the real generational talent in LSU’s backfield last season. That’s setting the bar extremely high, but Guice could challenge for a very early draft slot himself. The Raiders are basking in Marshawn Lynch’s return for now, but that’s not a long-term marriage.​”

My take: Derrius Guice, the RB2 for me entering the 2017 season, is a star. He would be an absolute home run wherever the Raiders’ select. Unfortunately, something tells me he’ll be off the board somewhere inside the top ten picks, or so. It’s early yet, but this feels like a dream.

Will Brinson, CBS Sports

Full mock draft here.

The pick: LB Cameron Smith, Southern California

Author’s commentary: “Capable of piling up tackles (160 plus in his first two years with the Trojans), Smith is also a ballhawk for his size and generated three interceptions as a true freshman in 2015. He recorded four passes defensed last year, too.”

My take: It’s a linebacker, so I’m happy. Cameron Smith, as noted, is solid in coverage. That’s an area where Oakland’s linebackers have notably struggled in recent years. Smith appears to be instinctual enough, but I’ll be interested to see how he tests eventually. I may prefer another, more twitched-up, prospect.

Rob Rang, CBS Sports

Full mock draft here.

The pick: LB Cameron Smith, Southern California

Author’s commentary: “The Raiders boast one of the league’s elite pass-rush tandems in Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin but could use steadier play on the inside. Smith is an instinctive and physical presence with a knack for making big plays – qualities that might appeal to Jack Del Rio.”

Dane Brugler, CBS Sports

Full mock draft here.

The pick: TE Mark Andrews, Oklahoma

Author’s commentary: “Next year’s version of Evan Engram in terms of a tight end who is really a “big” slot receiver, Andrews would be a nice addition to an Oakland offense led by Derek Carr.”

My take: Brugler’s one of my favorite analysts, and I like the parallel he draws between Mark Andrews and Evan Engram. Engram was the TE1 in 2017, a player who presents a mismatch when working out of the slot, and is an obvious factor split out wide. Andrews brings that same presence, while being slightly bigger at 6’4″, 254. I plan on being on my own once more, but I’m all for drafting offense early for the Raiders. Andrews’ enters the season as a top three tight end, easily.

Luke Easterling, USA Today (The DraftWire)

Full mock draft here.

The pick: EDGE Tyquan Lewis, Ohio State

Author’s commentary: “Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin are a fantastic 1-2 punch, but you can never have enough stud pass rushers. Lewis gives them youth and depth.”

My take: You can never have too many pass rushers. I’m still not sure what the Raiders have in Shilique Calhoun, and you obviously can’t count on Aldon Smith at this point. EDGE is a necessity for Oakland going forward, and should be one of their top needs heading into next year’s offseason.

Thor Nystrom, Rotoworld

Full mock draft here.

The pick: LB Cameron Smith, Southern California

Author’s commentary: “I thought that the Raiders might address their linebacker need in Rd. 1 last week. Instead, Oakland waited until Rd. 5, which means they’ll probably be in the market for LB help next offseason. The 6-foot-2, 245-pound Smith, who’s been starting since his freshman year, is one of the nation’s best. He’s strong against the run and gifted in coverage.”

Steve Palazzolo, Pro Football Focus

Full mock draft here.

The pick: DL Derrick Nnadi, Florida State

Author’s commentary: “Nnadi has been strong against the run on his 1,142 career snaps, but he added eight sacks, three QB hits, and 19 hurries as a pass-rusher last season. Oakland still has work to do in the middle of the defense and he adds another piece to a unit that continues to improve.”

My take: Steve was banging the table for Malik McDowell in Oakland throughout the offseason. Obviously, that’s not the way things panned out, but Palazzolo clearly sees a weakness that (still) needs to be addressed. I’m in agreement. As it stands currently, we can hope for second year player Jihad Ward to take the next step, coupled with the addition of rookie Eddie Vanderdoes, in order to solve the Raiders’ needs in the middle. If there’s not some notable progress, expect another interior selection early.

Eric Galko, Sporting News

Full mock draft here.

The pick: WR James Washington, Oklahoma State

Author’s commentary: “Mason Rudolph’s top target at Oklahoma State, Washington is a special vertical threat who finishes catches downfield no matter the coverage. He can accelerate similar to Will Fuller.”

My take: I understand that there are (still) holes on defense, but taking the top talent on the board is never a bad decision. James Washington is a top five receiver entering the season in a group that appears to be better than 2017’s offering. At 5’11”, 205, Washington isn’t the biggest wideout, but he may be the most complete. He’s productive, strong, and fast, and able to win all over the field.

Here he is working against Chidobe Awuzie, my CB3 in 2017:

Jason McIntyre, The Big Lead

Full mock draft here.

The pick: WR Christian Kirk, Texas A&M

Author’s commentary: “It’s early, but it doesn’t look like a great WR class. Is Kirk a Tyreek Hill-type? Kirk is 5-foot-11 and 200 pounds, devastating in space, and wait until he plays with a good QB.”

My take: Another weapon for Derek, Christian Kirk appears to be a consensus top five wide receiver coming into this season. He’s young, and will end up testing very well, in addition to being able to affect the game from multiple alignments and positions (he’s a problem on returns). There’s a lot to like. Given the athletic profile (I’ve already read about how he may be this year’s version of Tyreek Hill) and versatility alone, I imagine I’ll remain relatively high on him throughout the season.

Tony Pauline, DraftAnalyst

Full mock draft here.

The pick: RB Nick Chubb, Georgia

Author’s commentary: “Chubb could go much earlier in the draft if he’s healthy and plays up to expectations in 2017.”

My take: Nick Chubb enters this season as the RB3 for me, personally. As Uncle Tony alludes to above, with Chubb, it’s all about the health. If he’s truly back to 100%, he could be special (and he won’t be hanging around this late in the draft). Oakland will look (or should look) to address the running back position, as current starter Marshawn Lynch’s stay will be abbreviated. Whether Nick Chubb, or someone else, it’s time to finally add a true, three-down threat out of the backfield.

Joe Marino, FanRagSports

Full mock draft here.

The pick: EDGE Harold Landry, Boston College

Author’s commentary: “The Raiders have made strides to improve its defense, but they are still a few playmakers away from having a top-flight unit. Landry racked up 22 tackles for loss and 16.5 sacks last season and knows how to wreak havoc off the edge. The Raiders get an enticing pass rush to complement with Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin.”

My take: Outside of getting lucky, and having a player like Derrius Guice slip, Harold Landry might be my favorite (realistic?) selection for Oakland in 2018. Keeping the defensive front stocked and fresh is ideal, and Landry’s production and athleticism is obvious. Bruce Irvin turns 30 in November.

Dan Kadar, SBNation (Mocking the Draft)

Full mock draft here.

The pick: LB Malik Jefferson, Texas

Author’s commentary: “After ignoring linebacker the first two days of the draft, the Raiders would be happy to see Jefferson here. He’ll rate higher, but since he’s not a pass-rushing linebacker, his draft range might be in this area.”

My take: I’m honestly surprised, only seeing Malik Jefferson’s name mentioned once thus far amongst this group. The 10th ranked player nationally (and the best linebacker in the country) in the 2015 cycle is certainly a name to know entering the season. He’ll be making the move from inside to outside linebacker. We know McKenzie applauds versataility. The junior certainly looks the part at just over 6’1″, 240 (with some 4.6 speed, according to NFL Draft Scout) — he’s silly-athletic.

Todd McShay, ESPN

Full mock draft here.

The pick: RB Derrius Guice, Louisiana State

Author’s commentary: I can’t believe ESPN Insider is still a thing.

My take: I’ll reiterate: Derrius Guice being available whenever the Raiders’ eventually select would be a crime. Easiest selection Reggie would have to make, only behind turning in a certain University at Buffalo linebacker’s card a few years ago.

Catch me on Twitter: @StillRyanFive