John Locher / Associated Press
Published Friday, April 28, 2023 | 4:41 p.m.
Updated 1 hour, 28 minutes ago
For the third time in the last two years, the Las Vegas Raiders took an interior defensive tackle out of an SEC school in the middle of the NFL draft.
Alabama’s Byron Young is the newest Raider, as the franchise took the 6-foot-3, 291-pound rush-lane clogger with the No. 70 overall pick in the third round. The 22-year-old contributed to the Crimson Tide in each of the last four seasons, emerging as a starter in final two.
He should compete for playing time right away in a crowded Raiders’ defensive line group. Starting defensive tackle Bilal Nichols is back along with Jerry Tillery, a key midseason addition last year.
The Raiders will also be looking for improvement from Neil Farrell, who was taken in the fourth round out of LSU last year, and Matthew Butler, who was taken in the fifth round out of Tennessee last year. Last night’s first-round pick, Tyree Wilson, could also take snaps from the interior of the defensive line.
Las Vegas came into the draft with needs at all three levels of its defense, and has now addressed the front with a pair of picks in Wilson and Young. Stay tuned to see what they do in the linebacking corps and defensive backfield.
Raiders trade up for Notre Dame tight end Matthew Mayer
After going defense with their first pick of the 2023 NFL draft, the Raiders shifted their focus to offense with their second pick. And they may have just gotten one of the best offensive players in the draft.
Las Vegas selected Notre Dame tight end Michael Mayer with the 35th pick, the fourth slot of the second round, on Friday night. Mayer was widely mocked to go in Thursday night’s first round but was one of a handful of players to surprisingly slip out.
Two others — Penn State cornerback Joey Porter Jr. and Kentucky quarterback Will Levis — went with the first two picks of the second round to Pittsburgh and Tennessee, respectively. Both were at a position of need for Las Vegas, but the Raiders appear to have been locked in at tight end.
They traded up, losing a fifth-round pick, with the Indianapolis Colts to take Mayer after the Detroit Lions selected Iowa tight end Sam LaPorta at No. 34 overall. Few college tight ends performed at a higher clip than Mayer over the last couple years, as he had 138 catches for 1,649 yards and 16 touchdown.
Included in those totals is an 11-catch, 118-yard game in a 28-20 Notre Dame victory over BYU last October at Allegiant Stadium. The 6-foot-4, 256-pound tight end couldn’t have had any idea that he was playing in his soon-to-be home stadium, but managed to make quite the first impression.
This is a developing story. Check back later for more coverage of the Raiders’ NFL draft.