Defense Will Be Priority for Raiders in First Round of Draft

When the Raiders make their three first-round picks this spring, they’ll land a defensive lineman, a linebacker and a wide receiver.

Or maybe a running back or safety instead of a linebacker. Or, perhaps, two defensive linemen and a cornerback.

Of course, nobody yet knows who the Raiders will select with the fourth, 24th and 27th choices in the draft, which begins April 25.

But, now that mock drafters from media outlets across the U.S. are beginning their annual prognostication season (even before the Super Bowl is completed), there appears to be a consensus that the Raiders have multiple needs, but the needs on defense are more acute. Based on early mocks, most analysts have the Raiders using two of the three No. 1s on defense.

As Kyle Martin of the team’s website noted this week, most draft analysts believe the Raiders will lean toward an edge rusher with their first pick. Josh Allen (Kentucky), Clelin Ferrell (Clemson) and Rashan Gary (Michigan) are the most popular choices to strengthen a pass rush that was historically awful in 2018.

Allen was the SEC’s Defensive Player of the Year with 17 sacks and five forced fumbles; Ferrell had 11½ sacks; and Gary is an explosive player who, though he had just 9½ sacks over three seasons, could have better numbers as a pro, some believe.

The caveat to taking an edge rusher with the top pick is that Oakland could decide it can’t pass up talented Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams at No. 4 if he is still available.

Another player who appears often in Raiders mock drafts is wide receiver Kelvin Harmon of North Carolina State, at No. 24 or 27. Harmon is a big (6-foot-3, 214 pounds) target coming off back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. In 2018, Harmon had 81 catches for 1,186 yards and seven touchdowns. In 2017, he had 69 catches for 1,017 yards and four TDs.

Harmon doesn’t have blazing speed – and new GM Mike Mayock recently said the Raiders need more speed at wide receiver – but he could be effective in Jon Gruden’s short passing game, with opportunities to make long gains on short routes.

Harmon is skipping his senior season to enter the draft, and skipped N.C. State’s Gator Bowl appearance to avoid injury.

This post was originally posted at http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/Defense-Will-be-Priority-for-Raiders-in-First-Round-of-Draft-505085531.html.

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