Every team walks away from the NFL draft feeling good about their new class of prospects but it takes a little time to determine which teams got it right or wrong on draft weekend. Luckily, I have been blessed with a crystal ball that allows me to see how things could play out for prospects who landed with Raiders.
Though I cannot help your fantasy teams with outlandish projections and predictions, I can thoroughly assess the Raiders' 2023 rookie class based on my experiences around the league. Here are my thoughts:
Who do I think is the best pick?
The Raiders landed a throwback selection in Tyree Wilson that would have made the late Al Davis smile. The Texas Tech standout is an exceptional athlete with super-sized physical dimensions and a nasty disposition. Measuring 6-foot-6, 271 pounds with an 86-inch wing span, Wilson possesses the length, strength and power to create problems for offensive linemen at the point of attack. With the energetic defender also having outstanding first-step quickness and closing speed, the No. 7 overall pick has the potential to create chaos and disruption as a pass rusher. If Wilson can refine his pass rush technique while settling in as a key contributor alongside Chandler Jones and Maxx Crosby, the Raiders might have secured the crown jewel of the 2023 draft class.
Which pick was the biggest surprise?
It was hard to imagine Michael Mayer falling out of the first round after watching him emerge as a dominant playmaker for the Fighting Irish. The 6-foot-4, 265-pounder led Notre Dame in receptions in his three seasons on campus, displaying soft hands and polished "post-up" skills between the hashes. Mayer's strong hands and superb ball skills complement his rock-solid blocking ability at the point of attack. As a traditional "Y" tight end with the capacity to play attached to a tackle at the line of scrimmage or out wide as a "FLEX" player, Josh McDaniels has an intriguing chess piece to utilize in the passing game to make life easy on Jimmy G. and Co. in the pocket.
Who is the hidden gem of the class?
The Raiders' need for a speed receiver could make Tre Tucker an impact player from Day 1. The Cincinnati product is a blur between the lines with explosive straight-line speed, stop-start quickness and running skills. Tucker's ability to turn short passes into big plays makes him a perfect fit in an offense with an assortment of "catch-and-run" concepts. As a 5-foot-9, 187-pound playmaker with a dynamic game, Tucker could start his career as a WR4 before evolving into a consistent contributor as a WR3 with starting potential in "11" personnel sets.
Who is the "red star" of the class?
Every draft class has a handful of players who outplay their draft status due to their talent, toughness and intelligence of instincts. The Raiders might have landed one of the top "red stars" in the draft in Chris Smith II. The two-time national champion is a high-IQ player with superb instincts, awareness and communication skills. In addition, Smith displays the range and cover skills to drop into the slot or box to cover slot receivers and tight ends in space. Although the fifth-rounder will need to be a stout defender against the run, the Raiders' rookie safety could play a key role as a sub-package defender or super-sub in the starting lineup.
Head inside the Las Vegas Raiders Headquarters to get an exclusive look inside of the 2023 NFL Draft war room.