Oakland Raiders: Early 3-round 2019 NFL mock draft brings needed help

Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images /
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Oakland Raiders
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Plenty of fans still bemoan the decision Gruden made in passing up safety Derwin James in last year’s draft. And with good reason – while James has gone on to have a very solid rookie season with the Chargers, the Raiders safety play has been, well, not so solid.

That’ll happen when you keep trotting out Reggie Nelson though, who should have been put out to pasture three presidential administrations ago.

Marcus Gilchrist has had a decent year and the team may try to retain him, and Karl Joseph has come on strong in the latter half of the year.

Beyond them, it seems like a no-brainer to finally send Nelson packing and though Erik Harris was a great story, it’s not clear if he’s done quite enough to justify a roster spot next year. He may, we just don’t know. Either way, the Raiders will still need some help in their defensive backfield and they get that in the third round with Florida’s Chauncey Gardner.

At 6-0, 208 pounds, he’s not the biggest, but he’s physical, athletic, a willing tackler, a ferocious hitter, and an imposing figure in the defensive backfield. He’s got solid instincts, great closing speed, and is above average in coverage.

Over his career with the Gators, Gardner-Johnson has collected seven interceptions and had 12 passes defensed. He also racked up 156 tackles – 15.5 for a loss – as well as four sacks.

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He will need to learn to take better angles to the ball and get off blockers a bit quicker, but he’s got the strength and athleticism to do it. He could be a very solid addition to Oakland’s defensive backfield.