The Las Vegas are fresh off their most impressive victory of the year a 63-21 win over the Los Angeles Chargers. Despite Aidan O'Connell coming off his best game as a pro, it is still evident he is not the long-term quarterback answer, due to this look for the Raiders to take one of the top quarterbacks in the 2024 NFL Draft.
In this week’s Inside the War Room we give a Raiders mock draft and also looks at five other players the team may consider in the 2024 NFL Draft. In addition to taking a close look at what Las Vegas may do this April this week's article also previews the 2024 NFL Draft quarterback class, highlights a player who would be wise to return to school next year, and much more.
Las Vegas Raiders Mock Draft
First Round Pick No. 12: Drake Maye, QB, North Carolina
One of Las Vegas's top priorities this offseason finding a franchise quarterback. While North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye is being projected as the second overall pick by most people, look for him to fall some come April. The main reason for this is that LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels will take over the number two quarterback spot, which will make Maye the third quarterback off the board.
Second Round Pick No. 43: Chris Braswell, OLB, Alabama
The Raiders may be tempted to take a corner with this selection, but the upside for edge defender Chris Braswell is just too much to pass up. In his first year as a starter, Braswell recorded eight sacks to go along with 10.5 tackles for loss. In addition, to his impressive production, Braswell is also an elite athlete coming in as Bruce Feldman’s number seven Freak Athlete of the Year and posts a 38.5-inch vertical jump and 705-pound squat.
Third Round Pick No. 74: Leonard Taylor, DT, Miami
The Raiders address their front seven in back-to-back picks when they take Miami defensive tackle Leonard Taylor. Taylor is another impressive athlete but his lack of production and history of injuries could cause him to fall to the third round. At the bare minimum, Taylor would be able to contribute as a situational pass rusher as a rookie, which is something he has done well during his time at Miami having the second-best pass rush win rate among defensive tackles in 2022 according to Pro Football Focus.
Fourth Round Pick No.112: Blake Fisher, OT, Notre Dame
Raiders current starting right tackle Jermaine Eluemunor is scheduled to be a free agent, and even if he returns his play has only been average. In Fisher, the team gets a player who can slide in as a right tackle as a rookie.
Fifth Round Pick No. 145: Johnny Dixon, CB, Penn State
One of the biggest needs for the Raiders this offseason is cornerback as Marcus Peters has been a bust, Nate Hobbs has battled injuries, and Jakorian Bennett has been beat deep numerous times this year. With the selection of Dixon, the team gets one of the better corners in the Big Ten.
Sixth Round Pick No. 202: Donovan Jackson, OG, Ohio State
After adding right tackle Balke Fisher in the fourth round the team adds Ohio State offensive guard Donovan Jackson to play right guard. Jackson is a big physical lineman who moves surprisingly well for someone 320 pounds.
Seventh Round Pick No. 220: M.J. Devonshire, CB, Pittsburgh
The Raiders take their second cornerback in the 2024 NFL Draft with the selection of M.J. Devonshire. Devonshire has top-notch ball skills having picked off seven passes over the last two years, and also has plenty of experience playing special teams.
Seventh Round Pick No. 226: Gabe Hall, DT, Baylor
The 2023 season was not the type of year Baylor defensive tackle Gabe Hall was hoping for after registering 10.5 sacks over the 2021 and 2022 seasons. Despite his lack luster year look for some team to take Hall late in the draft due to his impressive length and athletic ability.
Seventh Round Pick No. 238: Andre Carter, DE, Indiana
The Raiders wrap up the 2024 NFL Draft by taking another big athletic defensive lineman who had a down season this year.
Five More Players the Las Vegas Raiders Should Consider
1. Jayden Daniels, QB, LSU
While I think Jayden Daniels will rise to be the second quarterback taken off the board, if I am wrong the Raiders should snag Daniels if given the chance. Daniels is by far the most electric quarterback in the draft and destroyed teams with both his feet and arm all year long.
2. Joe Alt, OT, Notre Dame
If the Raiders keep playing like they did on Thursday night they may not have a chance of getting a high-caliber quarterback in the 2024 NFL Draft. If that is the case a player they should consider is Notre Dame right tackle Joe Alt, who would be a day one starter for Las Vegas.
3. Cooper Beebe, OG, Kansas State
A player the team should consider in the second round of the 2024 NFL Draft is Kansas State offensive guard Cooper Beebe. Beebe who is the top guard on my board was recently named a Consensus All-American after a stellar career for the Wildcats. He would be an immediate upgrade at the right guard spot.
4. Quinyon Mitchell, CB, Toledo
As mentioned above cornerback is one of the team’s most pressing needs so there is a good chance they will address this sport before I have them taking a corner in the fifth round. Mitchell is an explosive corner (4.3 40-yard dash) who has 44 pass breakups and six interceptions over the past two seasons.
5. Jay Higgins, MLB, Iowa
A late-round draft pick the Raiders should consider in the 2024 NFL Draft is Iowa linebacker Jay Higgins. Higgins has a nose for the ball racking up 155 tackles this year, and was also considered one of the leaders of Iowa’s elite defense this season.
Previewing the 2024 NFL Draft Quarterback Class
Top Player: Caleb Willams, QB, USC
Going into the season Williams was the number one player on my big board and he maintains that spot at the end of the season. I view him as the best player in the 2024 NFL Draft due to his playmaking ability which makes him a master at creating big plays when things break down. He will need to improve his pocket awareness at the next level and develop into much more of a rhyme passer. Overall, if Williams goes to the right situation look for him to develop into one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL.
Guy I would stand on the table for: Bo Nix, Oregon
A player who might be rated higher than where he will go in the 2024 NFL Draft, yet I am a big fan of is Oregon's Bo Nix. Nix is currently rated as a last first-round pick by NFL Mock Draft Database, yet is receiving more of third-round guy by NFL decision-makers. If he falls to the third round look for him to be one of the better values in next April's NFL Draft. The main reason for this is his overall accuercey and athletic ability. Last season, he completed a ridiculous 77% of his passes and consistently hit his receivers in stride. He also is an impressive athlete who can throw off platform or hurt teams in the run game.
Overrated: J.J. McCarthy, Michigan
What makes J.J. McCarthy such an overrated prospect is his play down the stretch. Two years ago he had significant problems with his accuercey completing 50% or less of his in three of the final six games. Then this season Michigan went away from him towards the end of the season not asking him to throw the ball much including not attempting a single pass in the second half against Penn State. While being nicked up at the end of this season may help explain it, it still is concerning he has produced less down the stretch in each of the last two seasons. Despite this look for a team to fall in love with his raw tools and spend either a late first or second-round draft pick on him come April.
Sleeper: Spencer Rattler, South Carolina
No quarterback who carries a day-three grade in the 2024 NFL Draft has more natural talent. The former five-star recruit has all the traits to develop into an NFL starter including impressive arm strength, mobility, and ability to accurately deliver the ball. However, in this area, he can run a bit hot and cold which is due to his spotty footwork and overall pocket presence. In addition to needing to develop in these two areas, he will also need to do a better job of reading defenses and going through his read quicker.
Biggest Risk: Michael Penix Jr., Washington
Several things make Michael Penix Jr. a risky prospect in the 2024 NFL Draft, but the most important one is his long injury history. He tore his ACL twice in college and during his four seasons with Indiana he never played in more than six games in a season. In addition, scouts will also likely have concerns about his accuercey especially when forced out of the pocket. This season he completed 60% of his passes in four of his last six games this year despite throwing to the best receiving core in college football.
Breakout Player: Jayden Daniels, LSU
Going into the season the knock on Jayden Daniels was that he couldn’t throw the ball downfield. Well to say the least he answered those questions and more this year. This season he led the nation in yards per attempt and yards per play. In addition to putting up those impressive numbers, he also joined Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M in 2012) as the only players in SEC history to pass for 3,500 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in a season. In terms of his draft stock, he went from a fifth-round grade entering the year to now being a top-ten player in the 2024 NFL Draft.
NFL Draft Scouting Notes
— This year’s quarterback class looks very top heavy. I currently have nine quarterbacks with a draftable grade, but none of them have lower than a fifth-round draft grade. On the other hand, I have three quarterbacks with top ten grades in the 2024 NFL Draft and a total of six with day one or two draft grades. One of the main reasons for this lack of depth is that a lot of quarterbacks who were regarded as late-round draft picks like Dillion Gabriel decided to go back to school partly due to the fact they were granted a big payday due to NIL deals.
— A player who would be wise to return to school next year is Ohio State’s Emeka Egbuka. The main reason he should return is he battled injuries most of the year which severaly limited his impact this year. This season he was only able to haul in 35 passes for 425 yards after catching 74 balls last year for 1,151 yards. In addition to hopefully having a healthy season next year, Egbuka would likely be the Buckeyes' number one target with Marvin Harrison Jr., likely off to the NFL. His stock would also be hurt this year by being in a loaded wide receiver class that could see eight or nine wide receivers drafted ahead of him.
— If Michigan is going to knock off Alabama in the Rose Bowl they are going to have to see their passing game significantly. One player who will need to step up for that to happen is wide receiver Roman Wilson who has been held to under 40 yards receiving in each of his last three games. Thankfully for the Wolverines though when Wilson has been targeted he has come up big. He currently only has one drop on the year and 78% of his passes have either gone for a first down or touchdown.
— While Michigan’s Roman Wilson has made his share of plays this season the same can’t be said for running back Blake Corum who is coming off a serious season-ending knee injury. This injury has limited his explosiveness who has seen his yard per carry average drop from 5.9 yards to 4.7 yards per carry and he has had only three carries go for over 40 yards this year. He has also been limited when it comes to making cuts in the open field breaking only 23 tackles this year which is way down from the 73 tackles he broke last season.
— The Houston Texans have been one of the surprise teams of the year partly due to a much improved passing game. However, for them to become a true Super Bowl contender they will need to add another wide receiver. A player who could be available in the second round that could become the team’s number two receiver is LSU’s Brian Thomas who has been one of the biggest deep threats in college football this year. If the team were to draft him they would be able to line him up opposite of Nico Collins and move Tank Dell inside to slot receiver.
NFL Draft Quotes
“This place meant everything to me. Coming here, in two years and just enjoying every moment: the adversity, the success. I wanted to be a part of change in this program. And I feel like I put 110% effort into it every day.”
- Quarterback Spencer Rattler about transferring to South Carolina
“Terrion has really done a good job for us. Because of injuries, he’s had to play multiple positions, which has been challenging for him. When guys went out of the game, he didn’t have a lot of reps at it, but he’s been a trooper at doing it and trying to look at it as a challenge to go out and improve each week. His coverage ability has been very good. I think he’s played extremely well.”
- Alabama head coach Nick Saban on cornerback Terrion Arnold
“This guy? Not only has he gotten his degree in three years – he’s a perfect 4.0. Y’all just try that one on, all of y’all that have been to college. All I know is this guy is a perfect 4.0, he has graduated in three years, and he’s one of the highest-performing athletes in the country. I mean how hard is that? It’s just crazy to me to process that. He has earned that and, again, through that, I think he has got a decision to make. It’s just a matter of what he wants to do.”
- Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney on running back Will Shipley and his choice to possibly enter the 2024 NFL Draft