Las Vegas Raiders Rookies Forecast

By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell

Solid Starter

Tyree Wilson, DE, Texas Tech – Round 1
Wilson was a bit of a risky pick for Las Vegas in the first round. Some teams had dropped Wilson from their draft boards because of a foot injury that some franchise feel will need to be re-corrected. The Raiders rolled the dice on Wilson, who possesses a good skill set and upside.

As a pass rusher, Wilson is a dangerous edge defender, and that gives offensive tackles a lot of problems. Wilson’s biggest strength is his length. With his long arms and wingspan, he is superb at keeping offensive tackles away from his body and they have a hard time getting into his chest to lock him up. That extra space lets Wilson use his speed to get upfield, and he has the strength to break free from blocks. Wilson is not crazy fast off the edge, but he is quick, and he has good closing speed with a burst to eat up ground when he gets free.

Wilson’s strength and length translates into him being very effective on the bull rush. He can push offensive tackles backward into the pocket and then disengage to hit the quarterback. Wilson’s long arms and strength allow him to utilize an effective rip move to go along with the bull rush and speed around the edge.

Even if Wilson is limited during his rookie season as he works to get healthy, he should become a future starter to go with Maxx Crosby. Chandler Jones will probably be off the team in 2024, and Wilson should replace him as the starter. Wilson is raw, needs some development, and has some problems at the point of attack. Hence, he might be more of a solid starter rather than a boom pick.

2022: Dylan Parham, G
2021: Trevon Moehrig, S
2020: Damon Arnette, CB
2019: Johnathan Abram, S
2018: Kolton Miller, OT
2017: Obi Melifonwu, S
2016: Shilique Calhoun, DE
2015: Clive Walford, TE
2014: Gabe Jackson, G
2013: Sio Moore, LB

Most Likely To Bust

Tre Tucker, WR, Cincinnati – Round 3
The Raiders reached by taking Tucker in the third round givent that he was a consensus third-day prospect. Tucker can struggle with size, and in the NFL, he will consistently see bigger corners who knock him off his route and reorient his timing and direction. The 5-foot-9, 182-pound Tucker could be limited to being a slot receiver only in the NFL, and Las Vegas already has a good slot wide out in Hunter Renfrow. Tucker also is not an option to unseat Davante Adams or Jakobi Meyers. Most third-round picks are labeled “backup to starter” by teams, meaning they start out their careers as backups but the expectation is that they will develop into starters. Tucker could fall fall short of that and be a disappointment as a third-rounder.

2022: None
2021: Divine Deable, LB
2020: Tanner Muse, LB
2019: Trayvon Mullen, CB
2018: Arden Key, DE
2017: Eddie Vanderdoes, DT
2016: Jihad Ward, DE
2015: Mario Edwards, DT
2014: Derek Carr, QB
2013: D.J. Hayden, CB

Potential Boom Pick

Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame – Round 2
One of the shocking moves of free agency was the Raiders trading star tight end Darren Waller yet getting only a late third-round pick in return for the mismatch weapon. Las Vegas essentially gave away one of the best tight ends in the NFL, which opened a big hole in its offense given that veteran Foster Moreau also hit free agency. The Raiders used their second-round pick on Mayer, and he should provide them with a good starter for many years to come.

Mayer is a dangerous receiving tight end who is a good athlete with quickness, size, and natural instincts as a pure football player. He has the potential to be a dangerous receiving tight end and contribute well to an NFL passing attack. Mayer has a well-rounded set of tools as a receiver that allow him to beat defenses in a variety of ways. He possess mismatch size and is very adept at going up to make contested catches over defenders. Mayer also high points the ball well, and he has strong hands to control the ball while getting hit. After the catch, Mayer shows some special ability. He has a second gear to accelerate downfield and can use his size to push through contact and continue his run.

While Mayer does not have Waller’s elite speed and athleticism, Mayer is simply a good football player. He is not a rare athlete, but he knows how to play the game and finds ways to make big plays. Of the picks the Raiders made in the 2023 NFL Draft, Mayer may have the most boom potential.

2022: None
2021: Alex Leatherwood, OT
2020: Henry Ruggs, WR
2019: Josh Jacobs, RB
2018: Nick Nelson, CB
2017: Gareon Conley, CB
2016: Karl Joseph, S
2015: Amari Cooper, WR
2014: Khalil Mack, LB
2013: Menelik Watson, OT

Future Depth Player

Aidan O’Connell, QB, Purdue – Round 4
The Raiders made a questionable move in switching out Derek Carr for Jimmy Garropolo in free agency, and that opened up a need for an upgrade at the backup quarterback spot. Carr was generally durable for Las Vegas, but Garropolo has had a very hard time staying healthy over his pro career. Hence, Las Vegas drafted O’Connell in the fourth round. While O’Connell may not have the polish to be a future starter, he has the skill set to be a backup quarterback in the NFL. With only the limited Brian Hoyer ahead of him, O’Connell could become the Raiders’ backup in short order and remain in Las Vegas for seasons to come.

2023: Zamir White, RB
2022: Malcolm Koonce, DE
2020: Lynn Bowden, WR
2019: Hunter Renfrow, WR
2018: Maurice Hurst, DT
2017: David Sharpe, OT
2016: Connor Cook, QB
2015: Jon Feliciano, G
2014: Keith McGill, CB
2013: Tyler Wilson, QB

Walt’s 2023 NFL Draft Grades:

7. Tyree Wilson, DE, Texas Tech – B Grade
There was some concern with Tyree Wilson’s health, but the Raiders are obviously OK with it. Defensive end was not a big need at the moment because the Raiders have Maxx Crosby and Chandler Jones on the roster, but you can never have too many talented pass rushers. I think this is a solid pick, but the injury and age problems with Wilson may make the Raiders regret this selection in the future.

35. Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame – A Grade
The Raiders lost their top two tight ends from last year, including Darren Waller, who was traded to the Giants. They had a huge void at the position, but that’s no longer the case. Michael Mayer is a steal here, as he could have gone in the late teens or early 20s without any complaints.

70. Byron Young, DT, Alabama – B Grade
The Raiders really needed a defensive tackle because Jerry Tillery is currently slated to start there. Byron Young is an undersized player, which is why he wasn’t going higher than this, but he’s a talented player who should have a role in the Raider defense. This is a solid, but not great pick.

100. Tre Tucker, WR, Cincinnati – C- Grade
Tre Tucker is an undersized slot receiver. I’m not sure where he fits into the Raiders’ offense with Hunter Renfrow holding the position. This range isn’t terrible for Tucker, but I don’t like the fit for a pick this early.

104. Jakorian Bennett, CB, Maryland – B- Grade
The Raiders obviously needed a cornerback and could have taken Christian Gonzalez at No. 7 overall. Jakorian Bennett was a steady corner at Maryland, but might be limited to slot duties in the NFL. I think the Raiders could have gotten a better corner, but this pick is OK.

135. Aidan O’Connell, QB, Purdue – A- Grade
Josh McDaniels said he wanted a quarerback for the long haul, so here he is. Aidan O’Connell has a good arm and really improved his accuracy last year. I like this pick, as I had O’Connell going 24 selections earlier.

170. Christopher Smith, S, Georgia – B Grade
The Raiders snatched a Georgia player away from the Eagles. Christopher Smith was very productive at Georgia, but possesses limited athleticism and upside. Still, he could emerge as a starter down the road.

203. Amari Burney, LB, Florida – A Grade
The Raiders have had issues at linebacker for a long time, so perhaps Amari Burney will be able to help. Burney is an excellent coverage linebacker, so I thought he should have gone a couple of rounds earlier than this.

231. Nesta Jade Silvera, DT, Arizona State – B+ Grade
Nesta Jade Silvera is solid in run support, but needs to improve his pass-rushing ability. Having him around to help versus the rush will help in some matchups. He might be able to make the final roster.

2023 NFL Draft Team Grade: B. Follow Walter @walterfootball for updates.

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