The 2018 NFL Draft is a month away.
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
Breakdown: Don't worry, Mr. Davis, Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie has not forgotten your mantras about speed, and selects a multi-dimensional 'backer who can run with TEs, RBs, and chase down QBs, too.
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
Breakdown: The Raiders added a couple of semi-decent linebackers in free agency, but they still need a stud player at the position if they don't want to field one of the weakest units in the league again.
Compared to Anthony Barr by some, Tremaine Edmunds is a very athletic linebacker with great instincts.
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: Another fit I’ve loved for a while, this is where “best player available” meets a crying need for a team. Smith has potential, as a middle linebacker, to emerge as the nerve center of a defense for a decade.