There were very few teams with as much hype going into the 2017 season as the Oakland Raiders. Unfortunately, that made them one of the biggest flops in the league last year with a 6-10 record. Derek Carr and the offense failed to get going with newly appointed Offensive Coordinator Todd Downing but not because of a lack of skill. The defense was one of the worst in the league under Ken Norton Jr a performance that ultimately led to his firing.
2018 brings many changes, the biggest being the addition of Jon Gruden and the staff that he brought with him. They signed bargain veteran players in Free Agency, which will allow them to draft the best player available with the majority of their picks. Drafting by need can be a dangerous game and the Raiders are in a nice position to be able to get the most out of the 2018 NFL Draft.
Oakland Raiders 7-Round Mock Draft
1st Round, 10th Overall – Derwin James– DB Florida State
The Raiders secondary could have been called the “Fly Zone” last year as almost any team with a competent signal caller put up big stats against them. James’ ability to play all over the defensive side of the ball and will give Paul Guenther a very versatile player to work with. James’ last year at Florida State took a while to get going, as he was recovering from an injury. His tape near the end of the year screams top 10 pick and the Raiders would love to have him available when they’re on the clock. Could be a game changing type player like Jalen Ramsey with a similar playing style.
2nd Round, 42nd Overall- Anthony Miller– WR Memphis
Miller can immediately step in as the third receiver and will have the opportunity to have success all over the field. Gruden can use Miller’s ability to play both inside and out to create mismatches for Amari Cooper and Jordy Nelson. He has strong hands and his first steps in and out of routes look like he is floating. He is about as smooth as it comes for a Day 2 WR.
3rd Round, 75th Overall – Maurice Hurst- DT Michigan
This pick fills another major need for the Raiders defense with an absolute stud. Many analysts view Hurst as a first rounder and some even say a top 10 player, but the word on the street is teams are very concerned with his heart condition. He was cleared to play at Michigan, but some teams have reportedly crossed him off their boards entirely due to their medical checks. If Hurst falls to the Raiders, he could be partying in the opponent’s backfield all year at an incredibly cheap price.
4th Round, 110th Overall – Chukwuma Okorafor, OT, Western Michigan
Okorafor had a lot of buzz as a 1st or 2nd rounder but his hype has since cooled after a disappointing combine. It seems as if Donald Penn only has a couple years left of productive football, which will allow Okorafor to develop, as he is still very raw. He is new to the game of football after moving with his family from Africa, so it will be interesting to see his development with some proper coaching at the NFL Level. The Raiders have also had trouble with the right tackle position and with his experience playing both tackle spots, it could make this a very intriguing pick early in the 4th round.
5th Round, 159th Overall – Genard Avery, LB, Memphis
It has been very clear over the past few seasons that the Raiders have a massive hole in the middle of the field. Reggie McKenzie is known for drafting his linebackers in the later rounds so this is a great fit in the fifth. Raiders have been leaning towards versatility all offseason and with Avery having the ability to play ILB and OLB, this fits the Raiders style going forward. He is an angry and violent tackler that could use some development on reading the play, but he has a chance to be a very good starter in this league. A team captain at Memphis, he will be a vocal addition to the second level.
5th Round, 173rd Overall – Holton Hill, CB, Texas
Hill was impressive against some of the Big 12’s top wide-outs but one of his most underrated attributes is his ability to stop the run. He has had some trouble with being on the field due to suspensions, which is a little concerning, but teams may overlook these issues for a player this talented. I believe this is the point where McKenzie does his homework and trusts his locker room to keep this guy in line.
6th Round, 185th Overall – John Kelly, RB, Tennessee
Marshawn Lynch is now 32 years old and as much as I truly believe he will still be very productive this year, he will need some help from his running back group to spell him at times. John Kelly is another player that is very versatile in that he is an excellent receiver out of the backfield. He doesn’t have as much twitch or speed as Alvin Kamara but you can see some similarities in his game. Kelly is on the smaller side at 5’9 205lbs but he will take on much bigger players without any hesitation. Could be a 3rd down back to give Gruden a great receiving threat to play with.
6th Round, 212th Overall – Michael Dickson, P, Texas
After the Raiders cut bait with Marquette King because of an inflated cap hit (and ego), they now have a void at the punting position. Dickson was the Ray Guy Award Winner for 2017 as the nation’s best punter. There isn’t a better fit for a punter than a guy who won an award named after a Raider legend.
6th Round, 216th Overall – Peter Kalambayi, Edge, Stanford
Versatility, versatility, versatility. Are you starting to see a theme here? Kalambayi played defensive end, inside linebacker and outside linebacker in a very complex defense at Stanford. He has the ability to drop into coverage, spy the QB and rush the passer. His is a little undersized at 6’2” 250lbs., so they moved him around because of his impressive athleticism. He will have the chance to prove himself and make the squad on special teams as he develops.
6th Round, 217th Overall – Kahlil McKenzie, DT, Tennessee
Well, this is just fun. Kahlil is the son of Reggie McKenzie and would be a nice addition at a position of need for the Raiders. He didn’t have much production at Tennessee with only 1.5 TFL in his career which means he will likely be available for a great value. He can be a rotational player as a rookie with a chance to develop into a decent NFL player due to his size and skill set.
7th Round, 228th Overall – Joe Ostman, DE/FB, Central Michigan
Ostman recently visited the Raiders facility and Gruden talked with him about a position change from defensive end to fullback. This may sound like a strange move given his production on defense, but it’s actually a very similar transition that current fullback Keith Smith did coming out of college. Ostman is a very successful special teamer and would be a great addition to that part of the game for the Raiders.