GM Mike Mayock and Coach Gruden kicked off the 2021 NFL Draft by fortifying the offensive line, but the second and third round was all about defense.
The Las Vegas Raiders scooped up a handful of top-tier talent, adding safety Trevon Moehrig (the top safety in the class), defensive end Malcolm Koonce, and defensive back Divine Deablo. Mayock and Gruden would've been pleased to get one of these prospects, but the fact they got all three was a home run.
Following Day Two of the draft, Mayock hopped on a conference call and fielded questions from reporters.
Prior to the draft, analysts felt that Moehrig to the Raiders at No. 17 was a great fit, but the team opted to address the offensive line. Miraculously, the TCU Horned Frog fell into the second round, and Mayock felt he had no choice but to trade up and snag him. The Raiders reached out to a couple of teams, searching for a suitable trade partner, and finally came to a deal with the San Francisco 49ers.
"In all honesty, I was thinking about trying to come up and get him at the end of the first round yesterday," Mayock shared. "I was stunned that he was still there. ...He's our No. 1 rated safety. We had him with a big grade on our board. So, we got a guy with a first-round grade at 43 in the second round. So, we're pretty excited."
Moehrig won't be the only player holding down the secondary, as he'll be joined by Deablo, who possesses an excellent knack for identifying routes before they fully develop. The Raiders will feature a lot of youth on defense, but their speed and athleticism will be on full display, and Mayock is stoked.
"And [Divine] Deablo, another high-quality guy. A guy that can play a couple of different positions, 17 special teams tackles at Virginia Tech. Ball production, the two guys on the backend I think had 14 interceptions between them."
Last, but certainly not least, Mayock and Gruden added yet another weapon to defensive coordinator Gus Bradley's defense, Malcolm Koonce. The former University of Buffalo defensive end was a force to be reckoned with during his four college seasons, racking up 109 tackles, 22.5 tackles for loss, and 17 sacks. Reviewing his tape, Mayock became enamored with Koonce's ability to get after the quarterback and thinks he's going to be the perfect complement to Yannick Ngakoue.
"This guy at Buffalo has an innate skill and ability to rush the quarterback, and he's 6-2, he's 249 pounds," Mayock said. "He's got long arms but wait until you see him rush the quarterback. He's got a real chance to do some things that are kind of cool and will help complement Ngakoue. So, now we got two kinds of guys that can bend the edge with some speed off the edge, and that's what we didn't have the last two years is that bendy guy that can threaten off the edge with speed."
Through two days, Mayock and the Raiders have constructed a quality draft class, and they've got one more day to put on the finishing touches.
Get a behind-the-scenes look at the 2021 NFL Draft in Cleveland, Ohio.