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Raiders Mailbag: How much depth did the Silver and Black gain in the 2023 NFL Draft?

Tyler Pruitt from Oregon asks:

"Will Michael Mayer, the new tight end, be a starter?"

A lot has yet to be determined about the presumed depth chart considering the team hasn't started minicamp or OTAs yet.

Michael Mayer will have to earn his spot on the roster and any chance of being a starter just like everyone else. It's surprising Mayer was available in the second round considering many analysts believed he was the top tight end in this draft class. Mayer caught 18 touchdowns in his three seasons at Notre Dame, while also earning First Team Associated Press All-American honors in 2022. Additionally, he holds Notre Dame's record for most single-season receptions and receiving yards for a tight end.

He brings an impressive array of skills with him to Las Vegas – showcasing soft hands, great route running, exceptional short area quickness and sound blocking in college. Being in a tight end room with veterans Austin Hooper and O.J. Howard will only help him in his development as a rookie.

Ricardo Peña asks:

"Drafted two defensive tackles last year and two defensive tackles this year. Also have Nichols and Tillery in the roster. How do you see the DT room shaping on the final 53?"

Currently there are nine interior defensive lineman on the Raiders roster, and that's not even including Tyree Wilson who the Raiders could move inside throughout the season.

There's a variety in skill sets when looking at these defensive tackles, with Jerry Tillery and Adam Butler being solid pass rushers, while Bilal Nichols is stout against the run. It will also be interesting to see how much Neil Farrell Jr.  and Matthew Butler have developed going into their second season, as they're preparing to compete for spots against 2023 draft picks Byron Young and Nesta Jade Silvera.

@AlexDidIt93 asks:

"Who's the biggest sleeper of the draft class?"

I believe a hidden gem could be cornerback Jakorian Bennett.

The former Maryland Terrapin has an inspiring story, going from being unrecruited out of high school in Mobile, Alabama, to being named the 2022 Duke's Mayo Bowl MVP. His draft stock continued to rise after the Senior Bowl, catching a fourth-quarter interception in the annual showcase, and the Scouting Combine, where he ran the second fastest 40-yard dash time (4.3) in Indianapolis.

Bennett was a bit overshadowed at Maryland by teammate Deonte Banks, who was drafted in the first round by the New York Giants. However, the two defensive backs had very similar production as teammates. Both had nearly 40 total tackles in 2022, with Bennett compiling three more pass deflections and one more interception than Banks.

With the Raiders defense only securing six interceptions and 55 pass deflections last season, drafting a ballhawk like Bennett could pay dividends sooner than later.

Head inside Intermountain Health Performance Center to view photos from Phase Two of the Las Vegas Raiders' 2023 offseason program.

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