For the Oakland Raiders, moving ahead after a disappointing 2017 season should be easy with new coach Jon Gruden coming in.
The pieces are in place for the offense to get back on track, but the defense is where the team continues to have issues despite having Pro Bowl linebacker Khalil Mack on the roster.
Finding Mack some linebacker help and shoring up the defense that gave up an average of 5.6 yards every time an opponent snapped the ball could be the team's focus in the draft.
The Raiders were involved in the second big trade of draft day, moving down five spots in the first round to allow the Cardinals to take Josh Rosen, and getting a pick in the third and fifth rounds in exchange. Soon, they were involved in one of the biggest trades of the day, sending that new third round pick to the Steelers in exchange for wideout Martavis Bryant.
How will they use their picks in the NFL draft? We’re listing every selection below.
Here's the full list of picks the Raiders hold in the 2018 draft, which will be updated as each selection is made.
Round 1, Pick 15 (No. 15 overall) [via Arizona]
Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA
Andy Benoit's grade: C-
Peter King called it. The Raiders have a lot of defensive needs, but left tackle Donald Penn is approaching the 18th tee box on his career and Derek Carr’s blind side must be protected, especially given that reincarnated head coach Jon Gruden prefers to put the QB under center, not in shotgun. It’ll be interesting to see if Miller plays on the right side as a rookie. Switching sides as a blocker is very difficult, especially if you’re trying to acclimate to the pro game. Miller did, however, play both sides at UCLA. We grade this pick down just a bit because the Raiders have gigantic needs at linebacker and cornerback, and left plenty of good players on the board.
Scouting Report: He has the desired length for the blindside, and Miller flashed impressive athleticism (which shined through at the combine). With a bit of cleanup with his technique, could become a quality left tackle. If not, he could probably hold his own as a serviceable right tackle.
Round 2, Pick 25 (No. 57 overall):
P.J. Hall, DT, Sam Houston St.
Andy Benoit's Grade: B
Yes, they have glaring needs at linebacker and especially cornerback. But new defensive coordinator Paul Guenther plays a lot of two-deep zone, which protects your ‘backers and corners in coverage. Plus in those looks, Guenther often aligns his “three-technique” defensive tackle on the strong side. That means the three-tech must have the strength and explosiveness to fight through double-teams. Guenther had this in Cincinnati with Geno Atkins. He didn’t inherit anyone on Oakland’s roster who is close to that caliber. The hope is Hall changes that.
Round 3, Pick 1 (No. 65 overall) [via Baltimore]:
Brandon Parker, OT, North Carolina A&T
Andy Benoit's Grade: C
Yes, the glaring needs at linebacker and especially corner are STILL there, but … if we didn’t criticize the Kolton Miller pick, we can’t criticize the Brandon Parker pick. The reason is simple: In today's NFL, left tackles and right tackles are of equal importance. A replacement will soon be needed for Donald Penn on the left side, and an upgrade over Vadal Alexander must be found on the right side. What we can surmise is Jon Gruden and his staff don’t love last year’s fourth-round pick David Sharpe.
Round 3, Pick 23 (No. 87 overall) [via Los Angeles Rams]:
Arden Key, DE/LB, LSU
Andy Benoit's Grade: B
The Raiders saw a talented player sitting there and moved. They can reason that instead of finding a corner who won’t get burned, get pass rushers who won’t give your corners a chance to get burned.
Round 4 Pick 10 (No. 110 overall): Nick Nelson, CB, Wisconsin
Round 5, Pick 3 (No. 140 overall) [via Arizona]: Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan
Round 5, Pick 36 (No. 173 overall *compensatory selection): Johnny Townsend, P, Florida
Round 6, Pick 42 (No. 216 overall *compensatory selection): Azeem Victor, LB, Washington
Round 7, Pick 10 (No. 228 overall): Marcell Ateman, WR, Oklahoma State