2019 NFL Draft: Oakland Raiders team needs, draft picks, prospects to watch
With their 2018 season over, it's time for Raiders fans to turn their attention to the draft
Whether first-year coach Jon Gruden would admit it or not, 2018 was a rebuilding year for the Raiders. Gone are Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper and finding their replacements will be critical to any near-term turnaround. That said, early season questions about Derek Carr's future with the club appears to have settled over the final weeks of the season, and his play means that Oakland won't be in the market for its next franchise quarterback. Plenty of other needs remain, however.
Here's what you need to know about the Oakland Raiders and the 2019 NFL Draft.
2019 draft picks
- Round 1: Oakland, Dallas, Chicago
- Round 2: Oakland
- Round 3: Oakland
- Round 4: Oakland
- Round 5: Oakland
- Round 6: Oakland, Chicago
- Round 7: Oakland, Seattle
The Raiders have three first-round picks, thanks to shipping Mack to Chicago (which also netted them an extra sixth-rounder) and Cooper to Dallas. They also have an additional seventh-rounder after trading Shalom Luani to the Seahawks.
Biggest offseason needs
- Pass rusher
- Wide receiver
- Running back
- Tight end
When you trade away the league's best pass rusher in Mack, and cut the team's best pass rusher in Bruce Irvin a few weeks later, finding reinforcements is at the top of the to-do list. Unfortunately, given the Raiders' relative late-season success (at least compared to the worst teams in the league), they may have played them out of the Nick Bosa sweepstakes. Luckily, this draft is deep with edge rushers and Oakland will be able to find one at several points in Round 1 (and beyond). The Raiders have one of the league's worst defenses, which means upgrading the linebackers and the secondary are also a priority.
On the other side of the ball, Derek Carr set career-bests in completion percentage and yards per attempt, and now Gruden is tasked with surrounding him with playmakers. Amari Cooper is Dallas and tight end Jared Cook is set to hit free agency in March. Adding a quality running back behind will also be key; Marshawn Lynch, Jalen Richard and Doug Martin will all be free agents too.
Prospects to watch
Nick Bosa, EDGE, Ohio State
Bosa is the best pass rusher in this class and the expectation is that he could be the first player drafted. If he's not, and the Raiders deem him a transcendent player, they certainly have the ammunition to trade up and get him. But with the depth in this draft class they'll be more inclined to address other needs and take an edge player when one falls to them.
Montez Sweat, EDGE, Mississippi State
Sweat doesn't have Bosa's athleticism and isn't nearly as dynamic, but he'll likely be on the board late in Round 1. And don't be fooled, Sweat can play; he had 11.5 sacks and 14 tackles for loss during his senior season. That was the encore to his junior campaign, which featured 10.5 sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss.
Devin White, LB, LSU
White is one of the most dynamic players in the draft. He's a sideline-to-sideline thumper who would immediately solidify the middle of the defense, making life easier for both the front four and the secondary. White is sometimes a split-second slow to diagnose what's happening in front of him but has the first-step athleticism to make up for it.
Deionte Thompson, S, Alabama
Thompson is the best safety in this draft class. He has the speed and athleticism to cover vast swaths of turf, and the ball skills to turn pass breakups into interceptions. Like virtually ever other position on Oakland's defense, the secondary could use an upgrade.
Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma
Brown's nickname is "Hollywood" and you only need to watch him for a few plays to understand why. Antonio Brown's cousin, Marquise is a game-changer. Think Emmanuel Sanders meets Tyreek Hill. The biggest knock against him is his lack of size, which could keep him out of the first round, but his playmaking ability will make those teams that overlooked him regret their decision.
David Montgomery, RB, Iowa State
Montgomery almost certainly won't find his way into the first round but he's a first-round talent. Which is why the Raiders could grab him early in Round 2; he's hard to bring down with initial contact, and he's elusive and slippery in the hole. When he gets downhill he's hard to catch and while he didn't have a lot of receptions in college he looks willing and capable of that role at the next level.
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