March 9, 2021

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Raiders have to have fresh blood at various spots on defense

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Every week all through the 2020 NFL time, we’re heading to — just currently being truthful right here — overreact to what we’ve found on the area the prior couple Sundays and start out projecting NFL draft potential clients to teams that may possibly have to have enable at specified spots.

Feel of it as a mini one particular-crew mock draft, with early (Rounds 1-2), center (Rounds 3-4) and late (Round 5 and afterwards) prospects at every single team’s respective placement of concern.

This week’s NFL draft makeover is the Las Vegas Raiders. How can they strengthen the protection and avoid a different late-season fall?



logo: (Amber Matsumoto/Yahoo Sports)


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(Amber Matsumoto/Yahoo Sports)

The Raiders confirmed nominal improvement in their 1st year in their new household, turning their 7-9 farewell marketing campaign in Oakland to an 8-8 record in a challenging 2020 time in Las Vegas.

These success were being eerily related in 1 way: Each Raiders teams were in strong shape heading into the house stretches — a 6-5 mark late in 2019, followed by a 6-3 mark in 2020 — before fading.

Now the mind rely on of head mentor Jon Gruden and basic manager Mike Mayock have to ask the tricky issues as to why the crew has not been designed to final.

There are plenty of motives for optimism. Darren Waller has turned into a star, and Nelson Agholor has turn out to be a shock enhancement. The offense has a basis in spot, with Derek Carr showing advancement in 12 months 3 beneath Gruden. There are some components on defense that must be section of the rebuild on that facet of the ball. 

That said, some of the team’s large draft picks (a great deal that was bolstered by the Khalil Mack trade), no cost-agent signings and other trades have not panned out as expected. The Raiders’ five initially-round picks the earlier two decades with Mayock in charge (Clelin Ferrell, Josh Jacobs, Johnathan Abram, Henry Ruggs III and Damon Arnette) can be summed up as a mixed bag so significantly.

On defense, the absence of go hurry tension, third-down performance, operate-halting prowess and compelled turnovers are issues that ought to be corrected. The again 7 endured myriad difficulties, and the entrance line was inconsistent. 

The unit ranked 25th in yards permitted, 26th in interception rate, 29th in sack share, 30th on third downs and 30th in details permitted. More than the closing 7 video games, the Raiders allowed 33.9 details per activity. That is unsustainable.

How a great deal did the Raiders’ COVID-associated issues factored into this? Well, some, it appeared. Ferrell, Abram, Arnette, Maliek Collins, Nick Kwiatkoski and others on that aspect of the ball all put in time on the COVID reserve list. But the Raiders’ own missteps associated to virus protocol cannot be blamed on any one else — the NFL even stripped them of a draft select for their violations.

And as the Raiders attempt to continue to keep setting up this offseason, they will be doing work with less draft capital than in modern many years. They’ll reduce the increased of their two sixth-rounders for the COVID violation but do have a single decide on in every single spherical now. Las Vegas will be choosing 17th total in Round 1.

That’s continue to large plenty of to land a respectable defender capable of starting off Day 1. Then once again, Ferrell, Abram and Arnette every started off in Week 1 of their rookie seasons, and none of the a few has but set up themselves as a standout.



a baseball player wearing a helmet: Michigan defensive lineman Kwity Paye suited up for only four games in 2020 but turned in a strong performance. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)


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Michigan defensive lineman Kwity Paye suited up for only four video games in 2020 but turned in a powerful effectiveness. (AP Photograph/Carlos Osorio)

Early-round prospect

Michigan EDGE Kwity Paye

I went again and forth on this a single, with linebacker a location I regarded as strongly right here — and there would be numerous potential clients at that placement who make feeling. 

One would be Notre Dame LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, an athletic roamer who can assist address the division’s most effective tight ends and backs, and Mayock’s relationship to the college could not hurt. (We also selfishly would adore to see a player nicknamed “JOKer” to conclusion up in Vegas, naturally.)

We as a substitute pivoted to the go hurry, which also needs help. If the 6-foot-3, 265-pound Paye is obtainable here, it would make a whole lot of perception for the Raiders. His football character and athleticism the two verify the boxes you’d suppose Mayock would be smitten by. 

And that would give the Raiders a robust best 3 of Ferrell, Maxx Crosby and Paye. Crosby played a ton of snaps this season and could use assistance. Ferrell performed improved but isn’t yet an impact move rusher. Paye is very great against the run and is developing some genuine pass rushing guarantee.

The Raiders were compelled to enjoy Arden Essential and Carl Nassib much too considerably this time, getting replacement-degree performances out of equally. Adding a likely star to the mix in Paye — who can also kick inside of on passing downs — could give this group a potent boost.

Paye was minimal to four video games this drop following struggling what’s considered to be a groin damage. In the online games he performed this year, Paye was Michigan’s very best all-close to defender.

Mid-round prospect

USC DT Marlon Tuipulotu

For this work out, we take into consideration “mid-round” to get started in Spherical 3. Will Tuipulotu continue to be available near to the Raiders’ decide (No. 81 in general) there? It is a difficult connect with.

Tuipulotu’s late increase during a shortened year has his inventory simmering. He still remains a demanding evaluation when it will come to projecting how he could greatest be utilized in Gus Bradley’s defensive scheme.

At 6-foot-2 and 305 lbs ., Tuipulotu does not profile as a common nose tackle. But he’s disruptive with his quickness, strong and lively hands, and higher energy. He should stand out on tape when Bradley, Gruden and Mayock sit down to observe him.



a baseball player holding a bat: USC defensive lineman Marlon Tuipulotu had a good season for the Trojans. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)


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USC defensive lineman Marlon Tuipulotu had a very good season for the Trojans. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

With Bradley as the defensive coordinator, it is very important the Raiders insert a number of rushers — inside and out — to the blend. Bradley is between the most selective blitzers of any coordinator in the NFL in current seasons. The scheme’s good results necessitates the entrance 4 to consistently get property.

The Raiders are shorthanded up entrance. Collins was a disappointment. Johnathan Hankins seems to be a cease-gap choice. They can up grade more than Kendal Vickers and other individuals who been given snaps up entrance. The only legitimate creating block appears to be Maurice Hurst, as other modern picks have not panned out as very well.

Tuipulotu lined up primarily as an undersized nose, but he also noticed time at just about every technique up and down the line. Bradley suggests he wishes to combine and match a ton, and Tuipulotu could bolster that effort.

Late-round prospect

Georgia S Richard LeCounte

It could possibly be shocking for some to see LeCounte’s identify here, as he has been just one of the much better college safeties over the previous handful of seasons, taking part in at a significant degree in the SEC and earning a reputation as a powerful leader for Kirby Smart’s Bulldogs.

But there is hesitation between scouts with LeCounte’s physical features. He could possibly not evaluate out to be 5-foot-11, and he has performed in the 180-pound assortment. On prime of that, LeCounte’s athletic testing quantities are not predicted to be good. If the NFL scouting incorporate is pushed back this calendar year, we could see individuals work out quantities owning even a lot more recency bias and hurting his inventory.

Some groups we have spoken to have placed third- or fourth-spherical grades on him. It’s no promise LeCounte will make it to Spherical 5, but it would not be beautiful if his testing is disappointing.



a person wearing a costume: Georgia safety Richard LeCounte isn't the biggest or fastest, but he makes the most of his ability. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)


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Georgia safety Richard LeCounte is just not the biggest or quickest, but he makes the most of his ability. (AP Image/Brynn Anderson)

Even so, LeCounte’s worth is calculated very well outside of his peak, weight and velocity. He has a tested track report of becoming a playmaker at Georgie (176 tackles, 6.5 tackles for decline, eight interceptions, 10 pass breakups, four fumbles pressured, 6 fumbles recoveries). Mayock appears to be a admirer of players producing at the optimum stage of competitors, far too.

LeCounte plays at max pace — occasionally to his detriment, putting himself in tough places at situations. That may well frighten some Raiders enthusiasts who have viewed Abram’s undisciplined fashion work towards the protection more than at the time. But LeCounte’s smarts, toughness and strong array could assist a secondary that ought to facial area Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert for 25 percent of the future various seasons.

And here’s a exciting tie-in: LeCounte is quite near close friends with Raiders linebacker Raekwon McMillan.

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