Connect with us



Ever since the middle of last season, Raiders general manager Dave Ziegler and coach Josh McDaniels have emphasized changing the team’s culture and building something sustainable for the first time in decades within the organization. The biggest step in that process will take place April 27-29 during the 2023 NFL Draft.

In their first draft together with the Raiders a year ago, Ziegler and McDaniels were reduced to virtual non-factors at an event held locally on the Las Vegas Strip. They traded away their top two picks to the Green Bay Packers for All-Pro receiver Davante Adams, and were left with the fewest selections of any team.

This year should be the polar opposite. The spectacle shifts to Kansas City, leaving the Raiders’ brain trust hunkered down in its West Henderson headquarters to make a series of decisions certain to have a massive impact on the future of franchise.

The Raiders came into draft week with a league-high 12 selections, including at least one pick in each of the seven rounds. The powers that be resisted cutting into that capital by making any big-name trades when the new league year began last month. They also proceeded cautiously in free agency, openly stating an intention to construct a younger team, starting with a core unearthed in the draft.

This all must make Raider fans extremely uneasy, given how poorly the franchise has performed in recent drafts. The team’s ineptitude, or unluckiness, in finding the right college prospects has reached catastrophic levels.

Las Vegas ranks last in the NFL with players it drafted accounting for only 11,904 snaps over the past five years, according to a study by NFL analyst Warren Sharp. That’s a staggering 35,340 snaps behind the next-worst team in the rankings (the New York Jets) and 79,997 behind the first-place Dallas Cowboys.

Long-term, lasting success will remain unsustainable if Ziegler and McDaniels can’t solve the drafting issues that plagued their predecessors. The last time a Raiders draft was billed as potentially foundational was in 2020 after the team moved to Las Vegas, and it played out disastrously.

Only one selection—fourth-round cornerback Amik Robertson—remains on the roster from that draft three years ago. The 2020 draft class is already regarded as one of the worst in NFL history.

Ziegler and McDaniels won’t be around much longer if the 2023 rookies approach that level of unproductivity. The duo in charge are fighting against recent history, but it’s a battle they must win.

Here are the positions they most need to address in this year’s draft, and some of the players they could target. It’s near-impossible to link players to specific teams, especially deep in the draft, so don’t put too much stock into the exact names.

Round grades are rough estimates based on consensus from various scouting outlets.

Click to enlarge photo

Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud throws while being pressured by Notre Dame safety DJ Brown during the second quarter of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022, in Columbus, Ohio.


Las Vegas signed presumed starter Jimmy Garoppolo in free agency and brought in journeyman backup Brian Hoyer, but Ziegler admitted he doesn’t foresee ignoring the sport’s most important position in the draft. The only question is how early the Raiders will target a quarterback, and if they would perhaps even trade up from their current No. 7 overall slot to get a potential superstar.

Potential targets: C.J. Stroud, Ohio State (high first-round grade), Hendon Hooker, Tennessee (second-round grade), Jake Haener, Fresno State (fourth-round grade).


This is the most pressing need of all, as the Raiders have perennially struggled with pass defense and currently lack a top-end coverage option.

Potential targets: Devon Witherspoon, Illinois (high first-round grade), Christian Gonzalez, Oregon (high first-round grade), Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson, TCU (third-round grade).

Offensive line

Right guard was the weakest spot on the Raiders’ offense a year ago, and some would say right tackle wasn’t much better. All of last year’s starters are back, but Ziegler might want new faces to push right-side incumbents Alex Bars and Jermaine Eluemunor.

Potential targets: Chandler Zavala, NC State (fourth-round grade), Emil Ekiyor, Alabama (fourth-round grade), Nick Saldiveri, Old Dominion (fifth-round grade).


Robert Spillane arrives as a free agent from Pittsburgh expected to be Las Vegas’ leader among the linebacking corps, but there’s work to be done in surrounding him with more talent.

Potential targets: Byron Young, Tennessee (third-round grade), Ventrell Miller, Florida (fifth-round grade), Cam Jones, Indiana (sixth-round grade).

Tight end

The Raiders scooped up veteran free agents O.J. Howard and Austin Hooper after trading away star Darren Waller, but they still need more muscle and playmaking ability at an important position in McDaniels’ offense.

Potential targets:Luke Musgrave, Oregon State (second-round grade), Darnell Washington, Georgia (third-round grade), Brenton Strange, Penn State (fourth-round grade).

Defensive tackle

Superstar edge rusher Maxx Crosby got no help pressuring opposing quarterbacks a year ago, especially from the interior, where the Raiders also received mediocre production stopping the run.

Potential targets: Keeanu Benton, Wisconsin (third-round grade), Kobie Turner, Wake Forest (fourth-round grade), Keondre Coburn (fourth-round grade).

This story appeared in Las Vegas Weekly.

Article written by #LasVegasSun

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Follow Us