Raiders reportedly expected to take a defensive tackle in Round 1

Las Vegas Raiders (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)
Las Vegas Raiders (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images) /

The Las Vegas Raiders are expected to draft not only a wide receiver, but a defensive tackle in Round 1 of the 2020 NFL Draft, per recent reports.

The Las Vegas Raiders are fresh off what was a very active free-agency period. But with under a month remaining until the 2020 NFL Draft is upon us, the team will have little time to rest on their laurels.

The widespread speculation has been that the Raiders will target a wide receiver with one of their two first-round picks in this year’s draft — likely with their first selection at No. 12 overall.

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And that theory was supported with a recent report from Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller who indicated that league sources told him to expect the Raiders to use that 12th overall pick on a wide receiver.

However, the second part of his report is likely a bit more surprising.

He iterated that the speculation is that the Raiders will use their other first-round pick on a “middle-of-the-field defender.” In the case of the Raiders, that’s referring to a defensive tackle as “the team wants to upgrade there.”

This comes as a slight surprise, not necessarily because the team doesn’t need help at defensive tackle — because they most certainly do. But more specifically, because they are in desperate need of help at another positon.

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The Raiders are reeling for cornerback assistance even more so now after the signing of Eli Apple fell through. Even with Apple, the Raiders needed help.

Now, they’re in full-on desperation mode.

Trayvon Mullen should hold down one of the starting spots while veteran Lamarcus Joyner is expected to man the slot. But that’s hardly an encouraging duo to begin with, let alone the fact that they don’t have a second starting outside cornerback.

Florida’s C.J. Henderson could be an ideal target, but he might not be there at No. 19 if the team passes on him at 12. For that reason, the Raiders might not feel inclined to reach on another cornerback with that pick.

However, the same situation could be true at defensive tackle.

Auburn’s Derrick Brown is a consensus top-10 player and likely won’t even make it to No. 12, but South Carolina star Javon Kinlaw has an outside chance of dropping to 19. If he falls that far, the Raiders probably take him without question.

But if both are gone, what prospects could they feasibly target at that spot?

TCU’s Ross Blacklock is an intriguing fit as a 3-technique pass-rusher. Vegas already has two similar players in Maliek Collins and Maurice Hurst who fill a similar role, but it never hurts to add more pass rush.

If not Blacklock, perhaps Oklahoma’s Neville Gallimore or Texas A&M’s Justin Madubuike make more sense as 1-technique run stoppers with ample athleticism.

The Collins signing makes this less of an immediate need, but with both Collins and Johnathan Hankins set to be free agents after this year, it may be time to stock up for the future.

Perhaps another intriguing possibility would be to just trade down at that spot if the value isn’t there at cornerback or defensive tackle. Of course, it always takes two to tango, but it’s an option to be explored nonetheless.

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This report undoubtedly comes as a bit of a surprise, but the need is there and the Raiders seem set on fixing it. And as long as cornerback is addressed adequately, this scenario could still work out for the best.