The 2018 free agency period has been hectic, and could significantly impact the 2018 NFL Draft next month.
Let’s take a closer look at who the draft experts have the Silver and Black selecting:
Expert | Matt Miller
Breakdown: Even after selecting cornerback Gareon Conley in the first round last season, the Oakland Raiders are in need of help at the position. The prospect of pairing Conley, who missed most of the 2017 season with a shin injury, and Josh Jackson looks like an instant fix for a secondary that was torched often last year.
Jackson has ideal size (6'1", 192 lbs) and grabbed eight interceptions in his junior year before entering the NFL draft. He doesn't have blinding speed (4.56 seconds in the 40) but is quick and physical at the line of scrimmage. His press and bail technique are the best of the top-tier corners I've studied.
The Raiders could look to get younger on the offensive line with this selection, but new coach Jon Gruden should resist the urge to draft offensive players and instead focus on fixing his defense.
Expert | Chris Trapasso
Breakdown: Don't overthink this, Gruden. Smith is a sideline-to-sideline tackling machine with plus coverage ability. Suddenly, paired with Tahir Whitehead, the Raiders would have a dynamic linebacker duo for the first time in a while.
Expert | R.J. White
Breakdown: The Raiders are seeing massive turnover at the cornerback position with David Amerson, Sean Smith and T.J. Carrie out the door. Rashaan Melvin was a nice pickup, but Shareece Wright is nothing more than depth. Enter Ward, an elite cover corner who has everything but prototypical size. He'll be an excellent slot corner and should excel in Oakland, where Melvin and Gareon Conley can match up with bigger receivers.
Expert | Mel Kiper Jr.
Breakdown: This match makes too much sense, so I'm sticking with it. Smith could be the centerpiece of Jon Gruden's defense, playing inside linebacker. He had 137 tackles, 14 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks last season, and he was a force in the College Football Playoff, making plays from sideline to sideline.
Expert | Todd McShay
Breakdown: Oakland has needs all over on defense (CB, LB, edge rusher) and not enough available cap room to make huge upgrades in free agency. Smith would be a good building block for the Raiders' defense, as a rangy weakside linebacker with fast eyes and terrific closing speed. He's also a great leader and possesses tremendous football character.
Expert | Lance Zierlein
Breakdown: The Raiders have been in need of help at inside linebacker for a while, and they get an ascending playmaker in this spot.
Expert | Bucky Brooks
Breakdown: The Raiders need more speed and playmaking ability on the second level of their defense. Smith is a sideline-to-sideline defender with outstanding instincts and awareness.
Expert | Daniel Jeremiah
Breakdown: Alexander is coming off a phenomenal combine performance and Oakland needs an upgrade in the secondary.
Expert | Charley Casserly
Breakdown: Edmunds is the best all-around LB in the draft.
Expert | Charles Davis
Diagnose, run, hit. Diagnose, run, cover, hit. Rinse. Repeat. I love this playmaking thumper so much that I voted him third for last year's Heisman Trophy.
Expert | Chad Reuter
Breakdown: If the Raiders want speed at the second level, they'll go for Smith.
Expert | Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz
Breakdown: The 6-5, 253-pounder is the kind of singular physical prospect that Al Davis would have coveted. Oakland needs all the defensive help it can find, and Edmunds brings a rare physical makeup, albeit one kept in check by instincts that are still under development.
Pro Football Focus
Expert | Steve Palazzolo
Breakdown: The Raiders are still looking for a viable threat opposite Khalil Mack and Chubb offers a three-down option on the edge. He’s outstanding in the run game, where he rarely loses and finished second in the draft class with a run-stop percentage of 11.0. Chubb has continued to improve as a pass-rusher, where he has the burst to challenge tackles and pairs that with the power and hand usage to win off the edge.
Expert | Walter Cherepinsky
Previous Selection: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
Breakdown: The Raiders need to upgrade every area of their defense. Cornerback, linebacker and defensive tackle are seen as the big problem areas, but Oakland also needs a dynamic edge rusher to start across from Khalil Mack.
Jon Gruden could see Marcus Davenport as his next Simeon Rice. Davenport is a highly athletic edge rusher who has been generating tons of buzz lately. He could be a top-10 pick with a strong pre-draft process, and he's off to a good start by performing well at the Senior Bowl.
Expert | Dan Kadar
Breakdown: There are a ton of possibilities for the Raiders with the 10th pick. This pick has typically been reserved for Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea, but after signing Justin Ellis, he may not be the choice. James is a player Oakland could use as a hybrid safety/linebacker, letting him come up against the run or covering tight ends out of the backfield.
Expert | Albert Breer
Breakdown: The Raiders would be lucky in this scenario—their biggest hole would be filled by the best available player. Smith is a heat-seeking sideline-to-sideline linebacker who could man the Oakland middle for a decade.