Can you believe the 2018 NFL Draft is in just two weeks? It should be a wild one.
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: Smith is a Jon Gruden type of player with many athletic similarities to Derrick Brooks.
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 pick has been the same since Mock Draft 1.0 because Smith just makes sense as the new face of Jon Gruden's defense (with Khalil Mack, of course). Oakland's linebacker play was abysmal in 2017, and Smith is the type of sideline-to-sideline player that every defensive coordinator covets. Smith can play all three downs, and he also could pitch in and rush the passer.
Expert | Todd McShay
Breakdown: The Raiders would love Roquan Smith as well, but he's off the board here. Edmunds is a physical freak (4.54 40 at 6-4, 253 pounds), who can play sideline to sideline at linebacker and gives Oakland more speed on defense.
Expert | Lance Zierlein
Breakdown: The Raiders want to get bigger and better up the middle. Vea's ability to stuff the run with his massive frame and underrated quickness makes him a great fit.
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: The Raiders bolster their defense by adding the best linebacker 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.