It’s going to take me a while to get used to the Raiders being in Las Vegas. After all, they are the most traveled team in the League if you count them being in Oakland on two separate occasions, with L.A. sandwiched in between. However, when it comes to the Raiders 2020 Draft, the hardest part for me is trying to factor in the habits and inclinations of the dynamic duo leading their Draft effort, GM MIKE MAYOCK and Head Coach JON GRUDEN. Clearly GRUDEN is calling most of the shots for the franchise, with the blessing of Owner MARK DAVIS, but I am pretty sure that GRUDEN has too much respect for his friend and colleague MAYOCK as a talent evaluator to override very many of his prospect evaluations.
Doesn’t really matter here. I’m predominantly assigning Picks based on my talent evaluations and feelings about where the team needs to strengthen its roster this year, after a very successful Draft effort last year. And you gotta luv that the Raiders have 5 Picks in the Top 90, and after two more Picks, they are done after Round 5, Pick 159. Let’s get on with it then.
Round 1, Pick 12 JERRY JEUDY WR Alabama 6’1/193 (PP#12) There seems to be some irony here to me, that the team goes with another Alabama star receiver to basically replace another first rounder who’s now in Dallas. Life can be funny like that. JEUDY is a better all-round receiver than AMARI COOPER, in my eyes. He’s a better route runner than AMARI, and much more dependable on the catch. He’s not quite as fast as COOPER though, but darn close with a 4.45-40 at the Combine. AL DAVIS would have probably opted for HENRY RUGGS, JEUDY’s teammate, and his 4.27 speed. JEUDY caught 77 balls last season for 1,163 yards and 10 TD’s. If you are at all questioning JEUDY’s ability to take over a game, go watch the tape of the ‘Bama Bowl game. He will seriously upgrade the Raiders receiving group, and be a big help to DEREK CARR with his precise route running.
Round 1, Pick 19 XAVIER McKINNEY S Alabama 6’0/201 (PP#20) I have no problem going to the talent well twice in a row, when it’s the stacked Crimson Tide talent pool. It might not be this September (even if the season starts on schedule), but it may not be long before ABRAM/McKINNEY become the new starting S tandem in Vegas. McKINNEY posted good, not great, numbers at the Combine and his 8 5/8″ hands might explain, in good part, why he only recorded 5 INT’s in 41 games at ‘Bama. However, in every other area you look for results from a S, he is the complete package. His FBI is sky high, and the way his brain processes info and his body springs into action is elite. He also showed great versatility in his play. He is ferocious in run support and showed some serious zone blitzing savvy. Remembering that the ‘Bama defense is loaded with talent, McKINNEYs 2019 season stats are excellent: 95 T’s-4 FF’s- 3 INT’s and 5 PBU’s. He should represent a serious upgrade in their secondary.
Round 3, Pick 80 REGGIE ROBINSON CB Tulsa 6’1/205 (PP#77) It wasn’t a great year for the Tulsa football program, but ROBINSON really came into his own in 2019; 38 T’s- 4 INT’s- 13 PBU’s and 1 Blocked Kick. He then piled on some excellent work in Mobile during Senior Bowl week. His 4.44/40 from the Combine is adequate when you look at his size and his body flexibility. His 31 1/2″ arms help explain some of those PBU’s, as he showed in Mobile. He showed semiserious ball-tracking skills in the actual Senior Bowl game. He also posted Combine numbers indicating his lower body explosion, like a 36″ vertical and 132″ broad jump. I was impressed with his 22 reps in the bench press, which tied him for most reps within the CB group. This would be a MAYOCK Pick if ROBINSON caught his eye on film and in Mobile. Like McKINNEY, he has starting potential for my money!
Round 3, Pick 81 DARRELL TAYLOR ER/DE Tennessee 6’4/267 (PP#79) There is some question about a specific position for TAYLOR, but I think his weight being up to 267 at the Combine, might give us a clue that he’s leaning more towards a DE spot in a 4-3 base Defense, with Edge Rush potential from various locations on passing downs. The latter is how the Vols current coaching staff under JEREMY PRUITT used him. TAYLOR ended up missing most of the post-season after being flagged in Mobile during his physical for a leg injury. Despite being knicked up a bit, TAYLOR’s 2019 stats were indicative of his overall talent. He toughed it out through 13 games posting 46 T’s- 10 TFL- 8.5 S’s- 6 QBH’s and 1 FF, playing at less than full health on many weekends. His ability to set the edge against the run may dictate whether he gains a share of a starting job, or just harasses the QB. He needs to respond to pro coaching to refine his game and add some physicality, but his potential is promising.
Round 3 Pick 90 TROY DYE LB Oregon 6’3/123 (PP#90) Another guy intended to play sooner, rather than later, and add talent to their back 7 on D. DYE would have had 3 straight seasons of 100+ tackles had he not been sporting a wrist/hand cast on his right arm late in the season. However, his athleticism was not lost on talent evaluators, nor his productivity. He plays the run and the pass, as evidenced by his tackle totals (’17/107, ’18/115, ’19/84) and his career coverage numbers, 5 INT’s and 16 PBU’s. What caught my eye most, especially given the club on his right hand late, was the force with which he hits the ball carrier in the run game. He makes them pay, and gets them to the ground. He’s another guy that should win a starting job soon.
Round 4, Pick 121 SHANE LEMIEUX OG Oregon 6’4/310 (PP#128) Another repeat of players back-to-back from the same school, but it’s by coincidence of where their Picks are. LEMIEUX is a big strong guy that started 52 straight games for the Ducks at LG. He’s a tough guy with some decent athleticism. At the Combine, he ran a 5.11/40 with 1.83-second 10-yard split. He is determined and tough, with the size to tussle with the big DT’s around the NFL. Playing in a balanced offense for the Ducks gives him solid experience in both run and pass blocking.
Round 5, Pick 159 DARRYNTON EVANS RB Appalachian State 5’10/213 (PP#162) I call this a MAYOCK Pick. A smaller school athlete who exploded last season for a very good App State program. He ran a 4.41/40 in Indy. That number put him as the second fastest RB at the Combine, behind only JONATHAN TAYLOR of the Badgers with his track speed of 4.39. And he’s got those explosive legs to power that speed, with a 37″ vert and 125″ BJ. For the 2019 season, EVANS ran for 1,562 yards at 5.8 ypc, and 18 TD’s, and also returned Kicks in his spare time. He was voted the Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Year for 2019, and was an Academic All-District in the classroom, as well. This guy could be an absolute gem!!!
Good picking with those 7 selections. Just like last year’s Draft effort, I expect all of these guys to make the team and contribute right away, if healthy. I also foresee most of them eventually earning starting jobs. Can’t ask for much more than that.