It's been nearly a month since Daniel Jeremiah released his first mock draft of the New Year, and he's back again with an updated look at the 2021 NFL Draft.
The NFL Network analyst's first mock didn't contain a whole lot of surprises, with the top prospects (Trevor Lawrence, Devonta Smith, and others) all going where many expect them to — but we aren't interested in that. The Las Vegas Raiders are slated with the No. 17 pick in the upcoming draft, and Jeremiah has changed his initial prediction for the Silver and Black.
Statistically, the Raiders struggled on defense in 2020, and it's an area General Manager Mike Mayock and Head Coach Jon Gruden will look to shore up ASAP. First, Jeremiah believed the duo would select Notre Dame linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah because of his knack for covering multiple positions and pass-rushing capability. Now, Jeremiah thinks the Raiders are best suited by picking a player specialized in rushing the passer.
Kwity Paye, a four-year player at the University of Michigan, is Jeremiah's latest pick for the Raiders (for now). The 22-year-old totaled 97 tackles, 23.5 tackles for loss, 11.5 sacks, and one forced fumble. Before I proceed, let me remind everyone that I'm not a draft guru by any means, nor am I responsible for making any executive decisions. That being said, if Mayock and Gruden do decide to pick an edge rusher, I'd prefer if they had a little more production than what Paye boasts. Granted, Paye's numbers his senior year were low because he only played in four games and he dealt with injuries.
When healthy, Paye was considered one of the top players at Michigan, and his raw athleticism is what makes him such an exciting prospect. His combination of speed and power gives him the upper hand on the competition, but he's only tapped his potential. According to Jeremiah, Paye would ignite the Raiders' defensive line and elevate the unit's production.
"Paye would give the Raiders some much-needed speed and athleticism upfront. I've heard he's going to put on a show at his pro day."
Michigan's pro day isn't until March 26, and without the 2021 NFL Scouting Combine, we'll have to wait a while to see Paye showcase his athletic gifts. It also means we'll probably have an extra mock draft or two from Jeremiah between now and then, so who knows if he'll still think Paye is a good fit. Either way, Paye is a player to keep on your radar, as well as Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah.
With his selection into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, take a look back at photos of Raiders legend Tom Flores' historic career with the Silver and Black.