The Las Vegas Raiders had a decent season in their first year in Las Vegas. The Raiders brought themselves back to respectability with an 8-8 record last season. However, major things will be expected this season with fans finally being allowed into Allegiant Stadium after everything being closed last season due to the pandemic.
The Raiders will need to get better because the AFC West Division will be a gauntlet this season with the Kansas City Chiefs looking to remain on top of the division while the Los Angeles Chargers and the Denver Broncos improving their teams during the offseason.
The NFL Draft is critical to the Raiders if they want to take the next step from being a pretender to becoming a contender. Here is a look at who Las Vegas selected.
Round 1, Pick 17: Alex Leatherwood - OT - Alabama (6'5", 312 lbs). Leatherwood started for the past three seasons for the Crimson Tide. He started at right guard in 2018 and at left tackle in 2019 and in 2020. More than likely, he should start right away at right tackle for the Raiders.
Round 2, Pick 11: Trevon Moehrig - S - TCU (6'1", 202 lbs). Moehrig was viewed by experts as being the best safety in college football last season after winning the Jim Thorpe Award for being the top defensive back. His main strength is at pass coverage where he had two interceptions and 9 pass breakups last season. He is also a solid tackler (47 tackles, 2 tackles for loss). He will compete for a starting safety spot right away.
Round 3, Pick 16: Malcolm Koonce - DE - Buffalo (6'2", 249 lbs). Koonce is a solid pass rusher with nine sacks in 2019 and with five sacks in 2020. In the NFL, he will have to move to outside linebacker, but he should still see some time on passing downs.
Round 3, Pick 17: Divine Deablo - S - Virginia Tech (6'3", 226 lbs). Deablo is a large strong safety that can make tackles along with making plays defending passes (55 tackles, 2 tackles for losses, 4 interceptions, 4 pass breakups). Deablo will definitely see time at strong safety because he has the size that is needed to disrupt opposing offenses.
Round 4, Pick 38: Tyree Gillespie - S - Missouri (6'0", 207 lbs). Seeing that the Raiders already drafted two other safeties ahead of Gillespie, he will be given time to develop as a backup since his stats were decent (46 tackles, 4 pass breakups).
Round 5, Pick 23: Nate Hobbs - CB - Illinois (6'0", 195 lbs). Hobbs started all four seasons for the Illini, but his college career was inconsistent. He could see some time as a backup corner.
Round 7, Pick 2: Jimmy Morrissey - C - Pittsburgh (6'3", 303 lbs). Morrissey started all four years at Pitt at either center or at guard, so he will provide interior offensive line depth at both positions.
Grade: Last season, the Las Vegas Raiders were 30th in scoring defense. The Raiders defense gave up 29.9 points per game in 2020. Giving up an average of a touchdown per quarter is not a recipe for success in the National Football League. Ending up 8-8 with the defense being that atrocious was a miracle for Las Vegas. After whiffing multiple years in a row in previous drafts with safties, the Raiders made sure this time around by drafting three safeties that could all see considerable time next season. Loading up on defense while adding Leatherwood is what is necessary for the Raiders to compete next season. I give the Raiders a C+.
All stats are from NFL.com and Pro-Football-Reference.com.
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