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Versatility is a common theme among the Raiders' late-round draft picks

The last three Raiders' picks in the 2024 NFL Draft share a common trait – they can wear multiple hats.

When Dylan Laube, Trey Taylor and M.J. Devonshire arrive to rookie minicamp next week to start their journey through the league, they'll have to make an impact in multiple phases of the game to see the field. Especially on special teams.

"That's important for all these guys as young players, you've got to come in and make a mark on special teams with Tom McMahon to come get a jersey on Sunday," General Manager Tom Telesco said following Day 3 of the draft. "And then keep working at your craft or whatever that position is to try and earn a starting job at some point."

Laube, the Raiders' sixth-round pick, showcased he can be a dynamic offensive weapon, leading the FCS in all-purpose yards for two straight seasons. With 43 total touchdowns and over 4,500 total scrimmage yards, his catching and route running abilities are just as coveted as his rushing abilities.

As for Devonshire, he was Second-Team All-ACC cornerback with eight career interceptions and 23 pass deflections. Four of those interceptions were also returned for touchdowns.

Adding to what these two have done at their respective positions, they were special teams aces for their schools. Laube averaged over 31 yards per kick return his senior season with two career kick return touchdowns. Devonshire, who ran a 4.45 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, led the ACC in punt return yards (233) and yards per punt return (9.7) in 2022.

"I think special teams is, if not the most important, the most underrated thing in a football game," Laube said after being drafted. "I take pride in playing running back and receiver. But also, special teams I feel like is what separates me from every running back in this class. I think me being able to do a bunch of different stuff like kick return, punt return, gunner, jammer, I think I'm able to do so many different things."

"Versatility is a big thing growing up where I'm from, Aliquippa [Pa.], just being able to do things with the ball in your hands," said Devonshire. "It's not only playing corner on the outside, it's shutting guys down. You've got to be able to do something when the opportunity presents itself."

Taylor comes to the Raiders after winning the 2023 Jim Thorpe Award, given annually to the best defensive back in the nation. With his exceptional ball skills, he racked up six career interceptions and 13 pass deflections at Air Force. He received an 88.9 pass coverage grade from Pro Football Focus in 2023, the fourth best grade in college football (min. 200 snaps).

The safety was adamant in his belief that can come in and compete for a role in the Raiders secondary. But like Laube and Devonshire, he's aware it all begins with proving himself on special teams.

"Especially in the later rounds, going to say they would love a special teamer out of me," Taylor told local media. "I'm going to do what the team needs me to do as soon as I get in there because I feel like I'm going to make my team better wherever I'm at. ... I'm glad I landed at a spot like Vegas where they've got a lot of good safeties there. They've got a lot of good depth there on the defense period, but I have a really good feeling they're going to allow me to compete and do what I love to do."

After the end of the draft, Telesco reflected on how grateful the three late-round picks came across on the phone as they were being selected, putting a lot of things into perspective for the GM. While he's been a part of the draft process in different capacities for over 25 years, he recognizes its still a life changing moment for all the players involved. His hope is that the draft class from top to bottom can come in and fit the mold of the Silver and Black.

"We're always looking for the same thing with all these guys as far as the work ethic, the preparation and the drive and desire to be great players," said Telesco. "They all have to have that whether it's Brock Bowers all the way down to M.J. Devonshire in the seventh round. Just trying to find players that fit the identity of the Raiders, how we play and the identity of our head coach, so that was the goal."

Get an exclusive look at photos from phase two of the Silver and Black's offseason program.

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