And with the 2021 NFL Draft in Cleveland, Ohio, around the corner, the Silver and Black are honing in on select players they want to bring to the desert. General Manager Mike Mayock and Head Coach Jon Gruden will be looking to improve the depth of a young, talented roster that was incredibly close to making the playoffs last season.
While a lot of attention will be on what the Raiders decide to do with their 17th pick in the first round, we all know that a variety of game-changing stars have come out of the second and third rounds. Here are a few prospects the Raiders could have their eyes on come late April.
Richie Grant, FS, Central Florida
Richie Grant might be the perfect fit for the new system Gus Bradley will be implementing in Las Vegas, as well as someone to put next to Johnathan Abram.
Grant has played very fast and physical in his time in Orlando and has showcased the same head-hunting abilities every team demands. In Grant's senior senior as a Knight, he led the team in tackles (72), led the AAC with 5.4 solo tackles per game, was named first-team All-AAC and was a semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe Award and the Bednarik Award.
Grant plays fast and physical despite having a slightly smaller frame for a free safety and has good football instincts of getting to the ball and creating turnovers. The Florida native continued to rise his stock with a great week in Mobile for the Senior Bowl. With foundational pieces in the secondary like Mullen, and Johnathan Abram, Richie Grant could be in line to use his versatility of playing multiple positions to make an immediate impact for the Silver and Black.
Deonte Brown, OG, Alabama
With the Raiders offensive line already being so big and dominant, it may make sense for them to continue to follow in that mold.
The reigning national champion Alabama Crimson Tide had one of the more efficient offensive lines in college football history this past season. While Rimington Trophy winner Landon Dickerson and Outland Trophy winner Alex Leatherwood gained most of the national attention, offensive guard Deonte Brown has the potential to be the best sleeper offensive lineman coming out of this draft.
Brown has insane measurables, with a 6-foot-4, 350-pound frame and 80-inch wingspan. He was a key piece in protecting Heisman finalist Mac Jones and the No. 1 scoring offense in college football this previous season. He was named All-SEC his redshirt senior season and didn't allow a single sack in his Alabama career.
The Decatur, Ala., native has shown that he's hard to move and has a mean streak. Currently projected to go in the third round, Brown could definitely a good prospect to look at, especially with key pieces in Rodney Hudson, Gabe Jackson, Kolton Miller and Trent Brown who could assist Brown in developing quickly in the league. Despite a lot of depth on offensive line, the slew of injuries this past season shows that no team can ever have too many dominant men up front when you need them — which Deonte Brown is capable of being.
Michael Carter, RB, North Carolina
Jon Gruden and Greg Olson have shown they're not scared to run the ball. And they shouldn't be, considering they have Pro Bowl powerhouse Josh Jacobs and complementary pieces with Devontae Booker and Jalen Richard to move the rock on the best defenses the league has to offer.
Another great prospect that would fit like a glove in the Silver and Black running back room is North Carolina's Michael Carter. Carter wrapped up his senior season making All-ACC, being named an All-American and was a Paul Hornung Award finalist. In his last game wearing Carolina blue, he had his finest game of his career, running for 304 yards on 24 carries and two touchdowns against the Miami Hurricanes. Carter continued to rise his draft stock with his Senior Bowl performance in Mobile with 60 yards on eight carries and a touchdown.
The Raiders definitely have bigger needs than running back in the 2021 NFL Draft, but Carter has showcased in 2020 that he can be a very productive running back in the NFL. A standout Pro Day for him could even make him more viable to teams. I wouldn't be surprised if the Raiders consider snagging him on Day 2 to complement Josh Jacobs and continue their success running the ball. The Raiders accumulated 20 rushing touchdowns this previous season, the sixth best in the league.
View the top 50 prospects leading up to the 2021 NFL Draft, according to NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah.