March 1, 2021

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Raiders have to have refreshing blood at a number of spots on defense

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Each individual 7 days during the 2020 NFL year, we’re heading to — just staying sincere listed here — overreact to what we’ve found on the field the former few Sundays and get started projecting NFL draft prospects to teams that could want assistance at particular spots.

Think of it as a mini one particular-team mock draft, with early (Rounds 1-2), middle (Rounds 3-4) and late (Spherical 5 and later on) prospective clients at every team’s respective posture of concern.

This week’s NFL draft makeover is the Las Vegas Raiders. How can they make improvements to the protection and avoid a further late-year drop?



logo: (Amber Matsumoto/Yahoo Sports)


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(Amber Matsumoto/Yahoo Athletics)

The Raiders showed nominal enhancement in their to start with period in their new house, turning their 7-9 farewell campaign in Oakland to an 8-8 history in a demanding 2020 year in Las Vegas.

These success ended up eerily related in just one way: Equally Raiders groups were being in robust condition heading into the property stretches — a 6-5 mark late in 2019, adopted by a 6-3 mark in 2020 — right before fading.

Now the mind have confidence in of head coach Jon Gruden and basic manager Mike Mayock will have to ask the challenging issues as to why the staff hasn’t been developed to previous.

There are loads of good reasons for optimism. Darren Waller has turned into a star, and Nelson Agholor has turn out to be a surprise progress. The offense has a basis in spot, with Derek Carr showing improvement in Year 3 beneath Gruden. There are some elements on protection that should be aspect of the rebuild on that facet of the ball. 

That said, some of the team’s superior draft picks (a great deal that was bolstered by the Khalil Mack trade), free-agent signings and other trades have not panned out as expected. The Raiders’ 5 first-round picks the previous two many years with Mayock in charge (Clelin Ferrell, Josh Jacobs, Johnathan Abram, Henry Ruggs III and Damon Arnette) can be summed up as a combined bag so far.

On defense, the lack of go hurry force, 3rd-down performance, run-stopping prowess and forced turnovers are difficulties that will have to be corrected. The back 7 endured myriad challenges, and the front line was inconsistent. 

The device rated 25th in yards permitted, 26th in interception charge, 29th in sack percentage, 30th on 3rd downs and 30th in details permitted. Above the last 7 online games, the Raiders permitted 33.9 points per recreation. That is unsustainable.

How much did the Raiders’ COVID-linked problems factored into this? Perfectly, some, it appeared. Ferrell, Abram, Arnette, Maliek Collins, Nick Kwiatkoski and other individuals on that aspect of the ball all put in time on the COVID reserve listing. But the Raiders’ own missteps connected to virus protocol can not be blamed on any person else — the NFL even stripped them of a draft choose for their violations.

And as the Raiders check out to continue to keep developing this offseason, they will be functioning with a lot less draft money than in modern a long time. They’ll shed the increased of their two sixth-rounders for the COVID violation but do have 1 decide on in each and every round now. Las Vegas will be buying 17th total in Spherical 1.

Which is still substantial plenty of to land a respectable defender able of starting up Working day 1. Then once again, Ferrell, Abram and Arnette just about every started off in Week 1 of their rookie seasons, and none of the a few has nevertheless proven 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 potent general performance. (AP Picture/Carlos Osorio)

Early-round prospect

Michigan EDGE Kwity Paye

I went again and forth on this a single, with linebacker a location I considered strongly below — and there would be various prospects at that placement who make perception. 

1 would be Notre Dame LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, an athletic roamer who can aid cover the division’s ideal restricted ends and backs, and Mayock’s link to the school couldn’t hurt. (We also selfishly would adore to see a player nicknamed “JOKer” to conclusion up in Vegas, naturally.)

We in its place pivoted to the pass rush, which also needs aid. If the 6-foot-3, 265-pound Paye is available right here, it would make a ton of perception for the Raiders. His football character and athleticism the two check the packing containers you’d assume Mayock would be smitten by. 

And that would give the Raiders a robust top three of Ferrell, Maxx Crosby and Paye. Crosby performed a lot of snaps this period and could use aid. Ferrell played far better but isn’t but an impression go rusher. Paye is incredibly very good in opposition to the operate and is developing some real go rushing promise.

The Raiders had been compelled to play Arden Critical and Carl Nassib far too a great deal this year, acquiring replacement-amount performances out of each. Including a prospective star to the mix in Paye — who can also kick within on passing downs — could give this group a strong boost.

Paye was confined to four games this slide immediately after suffering what is believed to be a groin harm. In the games he performed this period, Paye was Michigan’s very best all-about defender.

Mid-spherical prospect

USC DT Marlon Tuipulotu

For this workout, we take into consideration “mid-round” to get started in Spherical 3. Will Tuipulotu nonetheless be out there close to the Raiders’ decide on (No. 81 general) there? It’s a challenging call.

Tuipulotu’s late rise in the course of a shortened year has his stock simmering. He nevertheless remains a challenging analysis when it will come to projecting how he may well greatest be used in Gus Bradley’s defensive scheme.

At 6-foot-2 and 305 lbs ., Tuipulotu does not profile as a common nose deal with. But he’s disruptive with his quickness, powerful and active fingers, and large energy. He really should stand out on tape when Bradley, Gruden and Mayock sit down to view 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 experienced a superior year for the Trojans. (AP Image/Rick Bowmer)

With Bradley as the defensive coordinator, it’s crucial the Raiders increase various rushers — inside of and out — to the mix. Bradley is among the the most selective blitzers of any coordinator in the NFL in modern seasons. The scheme’s achievements requires the entrance four to regularly get property.

The Raiders are shorthanded up entrance. Collins was a disappointment. Johnathan Hankins appears to be a quit-hole option. They can improve above Kendal Vickers and other individuals who gained snaps up entrance. The only legitimate setting up block appears to be Maurice Hurst, as other latest picks haven’t panned out as effectively.

Tuipulotu lined up mostly as an undersized nose, but he also observed time at virtually every procedure up and down the line. Bradley claims he wishes to blend and match a ton, and Tuipulotu could bolster that effort and hard work.

Late-spherical prospect

Georgia S Richard LeCounte

It may well be stunning for some to see LeCounte’s title listed here, as he has been one particular of the improved school safeties about the earlier few seasons, enjoying at a substantial amount in the SEC and earning a track record as a solid leader for Kirby Smart’s Bulldogs.

But there is hesitation amongst scouts with LeCounte’s bodily traits. He could not evaluate out to be 5-foot-11, and he has performed in the 180-pound variety. On leading of that, LeCounte’s athletic screening numbers are not expected to be fantastic. If the NFL scouting mix is pushed back again this yr, we could see those exercise figures possessing even additional recency bias and hurting his stock.

Some groups we have spoken to have placed 3rd- or fourth-round grades on him. It’s no guarantee LeCounte will make it to Round 5, but it would not be breathtaking if his screening 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 security Richard LeCounte isn’t the greatest or fastest, but he can make the most of his means. (AP Photograph/Brynn Anderson)

Even so, LeCounte’s price is calculated effectively beyond his height, bodyweight and speed. He has a proven track history of becoming a playmaker at Georgie (176 tackles, 6.5 tackles for reduction, eight interceptions, 10 pass breakups, 4 fumbles compelled, six fumbles recoveries). Mayock seems to be a fan of gamers generating at the best stage of opposition, also.

LeCounte performs at max velocity — occasionally to his detriment, placing himself in rough spots at periods. That may frighten some Raiders lovers who have noticed Abram’s undisciplined design and style function versus the defense extra than once. But LeCounte’s smarts, toughness and sound assortment could enable a secondary that need to face Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert for 25 % of the future quite a few seasons.

And here’s a pleasurable tie-in: LeCounte is pretty shut pals with Raiders linebacker Raekwon McMillan.

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