2019 NFL Draft order, race for No. 1 pick: Non-QBs the Raiders should target with three first-round picks
What if Jon Gruden sticks with Derek Carr? Which draft-eligible players could help the most in 2019?
Last week, 49ers, currently on pace for the first-overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. This week, we'll take a look at the Raiders, the other 2-10 team who have not one but three first-round picks next spring thanks in part to trading away Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper.who could help the
Not surprisingly, Oakland now has huge needs at pass rusher and wide receiver, and it could even be in the market for its next franchise quarterback if Jon Gruden determines Derek Carr isn't the long-term answer. In Carr's defense, he has played better after a rocky start; he hasn't thrown an interception since Week 5 and in that span he has nine touchdowns, though the Raiders are just 1-6.
Let's assume that Gruden is happy with Carr, who has four more years left on his current deal, and doesn't draft a quarterback with any of those three first-round picks. (In our weekly mock draft we've had Oakland taking a quarterback --Drew Lock -- but we've heard the complaints on Twitter, hence this post.) Which players could the Raiders target to turn things around the fastest?
(As it stands, Oakland has the No. 2, No. 22 and No. 26 picks.)
- Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio St. This would immediately solve the pass-rush problem; Bosa hasn't played since September but his decision to withdraw from Ohio State won't affect his draft stock. The only issue is that he could be the top player selected, and as it stands that means the 49ers would have first dibs.
- Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama. The Raiders don't have a huge need along the interior defensive line but Williams is a disruptive talent who spends an inordinate amount of time in the backfield harassing quarterbacks and running backs.
- Josh Allen, EDGE, Kentucky. Allen returned for his senior season and it was the best decision he's made. He put on some 20 pounds of muscle and transformed himself into one of the nation's best pass rushers. He may be too high to draft second overall but he may not be around when the Raiders are back on the clock at No. 22.
- Greedy Williams, CB, LSU. Long, fluid and physical, Williams checks all the boxes for what teams look for in elite NFL cornerbacks. Williams isn't a finished product, and he may have the occasional lapse, but he will likely be the first defensive back drafted.
- Deionte Thompson, S, Alabama. Dominant middle-of-the-field player who can patrol center field or play near the line of scrimmage. The Raiders' secondary has been a liability this season and Thompson would go a long way in changing that.
- Devin White, LB, LSU. Mack Wilson might be the more polished linebacker but it's unclear if he'll declare for the draft. Either way, White is arguably more explosive. Both have sideline-to-sideline speed and the athleticism to handle the demands of the position in today's NFL but White is more of a thumper.
- Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma. His nickname is "Hollywood" and he's cousins with Antonio Brown. He's also a burner, exactly the type of player Al Davis would've loved. The knock on Brown is that he's small -- under 6-0, around 175 pounds -- but he reminds me of Emmanuel Sanders and Tyreek Hill. Put another way: In the right offense, Brown could be a weapon.
- Daniel Jones, QB Duke, and Will Grier, QB, West Virginia. Just hear us out -- we're not advocating for the Raiders taking either in the first round. But the Raiders will have the top pick in Round 2 and they could choose to take a passer there. And, honestly, given this quarterback class that might make the most sense. Jones looks like your prototypical pocket passer but he can run too, as evidenced by his 186 rushing yards against UNC this season. He also played for noted quaterback guru David Cutcliffe, which will carry some weight with NFL teams. Grier, meanwhile, is more of a gunslinger who can be really good when he's patient in the pocket. When he's not, he forces things and mistakes follow.
(Note: In the table below, the teams are sorted from "most likely to have the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft" to "least likely" using two different methods. The "Current record" column does what the name suggests: Teams are first sorted by their '18 records, strength of schedule, via Tankathon. The other column is sorted by the "SportsLine's preseason projected draft order." Finally, here's if you'd like to see who we have each team taking.)
SportsLine preseason projected draft order
San Francisco (2-10)
New York Jets (3-9)
New York Giants (4-8)
Green Bay (4-7-1)
Tampa Bay (5-7)
Oakland (via Cowboys)* (7-5)
Chicago (to Oakland)** (8-4)
Los Angeles Chargers (9-3)
New England (9-3)
New Orleans (to Green Bay) (10-2)***
Kansas City (10-2)
Los Angeles Rams (11-1)
* Dallas sent its 2019 first-round pick to Oakland as part of the Amari Cooper trade.
** Chicago sent its 2019 first-round pick to Oakland as part of the Khalil Mack trade.
*** New Orleans sent its 2019 first-round pick to Green Bay to draft Marcus Davenport in 2018.
Pittsburgh at Oakland
Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, Fox
The Steelers have to win this game. Which is why it could be close. They'll be without James Conner, who suffered a leg injury in Sunday's loss to the Chargers, and they're coming off a two-game losing streak that suddenly has them just a half-game up on the Ravens in the division. Pittsburgh has played better on the road than at home this season, which is good news, but this team also has a habit of playing down to its competition. The Raiders remain one of the league's worst teams though they played the Chiefs tough (in Kansas City, no less) last Sunday. Derek Carr had one of his best games of the season (29 of 38, 285 yards, three touchdowns, no turnovers) and if the Steelers don't get after him it could be a long flight back to Pittsburgh.
New York Jets at Buffalo
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS
The Jets gave away the game to the Titans last week and they really look like a team that can't wait for 2018 to be over. The Bills looked like that team at various stages of the season but they also have huge wins over the Vikings, Titans and Jaguars, and previously beat the Jets in New Jersey back in Week 10. Josh Allen is back in the lineup and fresh off a 135-yard rushing effort in Sunday's loss to the Dolphins. Sam Darnold, who has missed the past three games with a foot injury, could return for the first meeting between the 2018 first-round quarterbacks. Given the Jets' trajectory, it might not matter if in-his-prime Joe Namath was under center.
Denver at San Francisco
Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET, CBS
Remember when we were all talking about Vance Joseph getting fired? Since sitting at 3-6, the Broncos have reeled off three straight -- including wins over the Chargers and Steelers -- and have played .500 football while facing one of the league's toughest schedules. With games at San Francisco, Cleveland, at Oakland and against the Chargers remaining, a lot has to go right. Nine wins could do it although SportsLine gives them only a 15.5 percent chance.
Detroit at Arizona
Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, Fox
A year ago, the Lions won nine games and the Cardinals won eight. Now, with a month left, they've combined for seven wins. Not great. But Arizona is coming off a huge victory over the Packers in Lambeau Field while Detroit was outclassed at home by the Rams. For all the talk about how Jim Caldwell wasn't the answer, he did have back-to-back 9-7 seasons and led this team to the playoffs in 2015; the Lions were also 11-5 under Caldwell in 2014 and went to the playoffs then too. Perhaps Matt Patricia is the answer in Detroit but it's been rough sledding over the first two months of the season. The same could be said for first-year Cardinals coach Steve Wilks, who has seen his team show slight improvements with the dismissal of offensive coordinator Mike McCoy (and the promotion of Byron Leftwich into McCoy's job). Still, the season is effectively over for both teams, who will have plenty to address in the offseason.
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Atlanta at Green Bay
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Fox
Mike McCarthy was fired this week, shortly after the team lost to the Cardinals. And while some folks were troubled by the timing of the move, if you can't beat this Arizona team in Lambeau Field in December, then it's time to make a change. Now the question becomes: What can the Packers do the rest of the season. At 4-7-1, they're facing long odds to backdoor their way into the playoffs (SportsLine puts it at 2.8 percent -- that sounds high), but you also never want to count out Aaron Rodgers. Win out and they're 8-7-1, which could be good enough for the sixth spot. Of course, that means beating the Falcons, who have looked average-to-terrible for much of the season and are coming off an uninspiring home performance against the Ravens.
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