By the time, the draft rolls around next week, picks and boards will wildly change. In the meantime, pundits and fans will do their level best to gauge where the Raiders go with their selections. As unpredictable as the draft appears, the anxiety level of RaiderNation raises with every pick. With no further ado:
Round 1: Zach Cunningham (LB) Vanderbilt
Reason: At this instant, the Raiders lack a middle linebacker. Perry Riley remains unsigned. Plus, Cunningham gives Oakland range and explosiveness, which Riley lacks. Also, he’d excel in a 3-4 hybrid, playing a cover inside ‘backer fits his profile.
Round 2: Cordrea Tankersley (CB) Clemson
Reason: Amerson and Smith combined for an uneven year. Although they rallied late, the secondary woeful lack of talent hurts the defense. Tankersley’s ability to jump routes combined with excellent ball skill makes him a strong pick.
Round 3: Marcus Maye (S) Florida
Reason: While Reggie Nelson made the Pro Bowl, his range and makeup speed are on the decline. Maye give Oakland a versatile playmaker in space and in the box. In addition, Maye vaporizes anything near him.
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Round 4: Tanoh Kpassagnon (DE) Villanova
Reason: Since Mack and Irvin accounted for the majority of the Raiders’ sacks, an upgrade along the line needs to happen. Kpassagnon is the type of small school rusher which intrigues Reggie McKenzie. Standing 6’7 with explosion will generate pressure.
Round 5: James Conner (RB) Pittsburgh
Reason: Whether Oakland acquires Marshawn Lynch does not matter in the long-term. At most, Lynch plays two more seasons and provides the bridge to Las Vegas. Conner brutalizes opponents between the tackles that loves contact and meets defenders with anger. Therefore, he could wait his turn behind Lynch and learn.
Round 6: Stevie Tu’ikolovatu (DT) USC
Reason: Justin Ellis and Dan Williams each enter 2017 off disappointing seasons. Williams showed up out of shape and Ellis did not play well. Tu’ikolovatu plays a pure nose tackle. In other words, he clogs up running lanes and helps crush the pocket.
Round 7: Brandon Wilson (CB) Houston
Reason: For fear that another slot receiver destroys the Raiders secondary, Wilson could easily slide into this role. At this point, Wilson is a speed prospect. More importantly, Wilson possesses Reggie McKenzie’s favorite trait: versatility. In this case, he can line up a corner or safety with equal production.
Round 7: Cameron Tom (C) Southern Mississippi
Reason: You can never have enough decent offensive linemen. With this in mind, the offensive line must contain quality depth. Flashbacks of Matt McCants trouble me. Plus, Rodney Hudson does not have a capable backup. Sliding a backup guard into center does not seem to consistently work. Tom handles nose tackles with technique coupled with strength. With that said, he’s not a candidate to take Hudson’s job. A solid pick.
In effect, this draft represents a change. With defense being a primary focus, look for players at all three levels to be drafted.