Barring a trade up, the Raiders’ first selection of the NFL draft will occur on Day Two at pick No. 86 of the third round.
History has shown there is plenty of high-end talent at that spot and beyond. So while the Raiders will approach the draft determined to accumulate the best players available at each of their five picks, there are needs at offensive line, cornerback, linebacker, safety and defensive tackle.
Here is how we see their draft playing out:
Third Round No. 86
Mindset: The Raiders are adamant they will adhere to a best-player-available mentality when their draft turns come around, so don’t be surprised at whatever direction they take. The good news is, the depth of this draft seems to line up with some of their more pressing needs — offensive line and cornerback come to mind — so there could be a marriage between BPA and need.
Three players to keep an eye on with this pick are Central Michigan tackle Luke Goedeke, Memphis guard Dylan Parham and intriguing University of Texas-San Antonio CB Tariq Woolen.
The pick: Abraham Lucas, RT, Washington State
Comment: A four-year starter at right tackle, Lucas will have to make the transition from pass-heavy Washington State — 2,195 of his career snaps came on pass-protection plays — to the more balanced NFL. He needs work in the run game, which is why his assent to a starting job might be a bit delayed. But all the physical and mental traits are there for the 6-foot-6, 315-pounder to make a successful transition and become the long-range answer at right tackle.
Fourth Round No. 126
Mindset: The Raiders have a tricky situation at cornerback, where presumed starters Trayvon Mullen and Rock Ya-Sin and key backup Anthony Averett can all leave as free agents at the end of this season. On one hand that will create an opportunity to play their way into new contracts, but it could also leave the Raiders needing to replace multiple players at that position in 2023.
So it is imperative the Raiders protect themselves by adding a developmental corner, and this could be the spot they do just that. Some players to keep an eye on are CB’s Alontae Taylor (Tennessee) and Akayleb Evans (Missouri) and Mario Goodrich (Clemson).
The pick: Joshua Williams, CB, Fayetteville State
Comment: At 6-foot-2, 195 pounds, Williams was one of the fastest max-speed prospects at the Senior Bowl, registering a top-five mark of 21.75 miles per hour. He also showed he could stand up in man coverage against some of the top big-school prospects.
Williams’ small-school pedigree means he faces some fundamental tweaking and development early in his NFL career, but the ceiling is too high to pass him up at this point in the draft. The Raiders don’t need him to play immediately, so there is sufficient time to put him on a track that eventually produces either a starting-caliber player or a key reserve.
Fifth Round No. 164 and 165
Mindset: With back-to-back fifth-round picks at 164 and 165, the Raiders could put together a package to move up into the fourth round, or use them as leverage in some trade-down scenario. The Raiders have had some big-time success recently in this round — Hunter Renfrow and Nate Hobbs were impact players from Day One — and they will be looking to again strike gold.
Picks: Marquis Hayes, G, Oklahoma; Sterling Weatherford, S, Miami (Ohio)
Comment: Hayes is a projection pick, as right now his physical traits trump his technique and fundamentals. But the body and power are NFL caliber, so he has the necessary traits to eventually develop into a potential starter or back-up. Weatherford is an experienced, physical, tackling machine who could end up at linebacker. He also has big-time special teams traits and could make an immediate impact in that phase of the game.
Seventh Round No. 227
Mindset: Aside from immediate special teams help, the Raiders will be looking for high-end developmental prospects who can eventually emerge as starting or rotational players at this spot in the draft.
Pick: Aaron Hansford, LB, Texas A&M
Comment: Hansford has upside as a prospect that, with the right fine-tuning, could end up being an NFL starter. At 6-foot-3, 239 pounds, he has sideline-to-sideline speed and is a willing, effective tackler. There are some diagnostic and awareness wrinkles that need to be addressed, but more playing experience and NFL-level coaching can potentially fix that.