Who should Raiders take with 10th pick in NFL Draft?

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(Click here, if you are unable to view this photo gallery on your mobile device.)The 2018 NFL Draft is fast approaching, with only two and a half weeks between today and the Cleveland Browns’ first-overall selection on the night of April 26.The Raiders will have a bevy of sturdy options to fill a bevy of pressing needs with the 10th overall pick, and it’s hard to see them doing wrong (at least upon first impression) with any of the prospects projected in that area.Reggie McKenzie has to hope this top pick, and even some later-round ones, are instant hits – unlike his choices in years past.Here is our top 10 for who the Raiders should grab at No. 10.10. Orlando Brown, OT, OklahomaBrown protected Baker Mayfield’s blind side at Oklahoma last season, and the first-round quarterback vouched for his offensive lineman at the NFL Combine after Brown’s severely underwhelming performance in Indianapolis. After all, he didn’t allow a single sack during Mayfield’s Heisman-winning campaign. The Raiders’ biggest offensive need is right tackle, and Brown could feasibly make the switch from left to right if Oakland wanted him to. Then he could replace Donald Penn on Derek Carr’s blind side after the veteran retires in two years. Brown will be available at No. 10, but might his combine performance slide him down draft boards far enough that he’s available to the Raiders in the second round, too?9. Derwin James, S, Florida StateJames is built from the same cloth as Pro Bowl cornerback Jalen Ramsey of the Jacksonville Jaguars, both defensive backs coming from Florida State. James might not be on the board at No. 10, but the Raiders ought to give him a decent look if he is. They added Marcus Gilchrist to a safety group already featuring Karl Joseph, Obi Melifonwu, Reggie Nelson and Shalom Luani, but only Joseph is a sure thing to start. James would help solidify a secondary that was among the NFL’s worst last season, but one that has already taken strides to improve with offseason additions. Last season with the Seminoles, James tallied 84 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, a sack and two interceptions, one returned for a touchdown.8. Da’Ron Payne, DT, AlabamaArguably the Raiders’ biggest need lies at defensive tackle, and Payne is among the best at the position in the class. The Alabama product wreaked havoc on opposing offensive lines for the 2018 National Champion Crimson Tide, and wreaking havoc on opponents is something Oakland’s defensive tackles rarely did in 2017. Justin Ellis re-signed on a three-year deal, and he’s the only safe bet to start. Eddie Vanderdoes is rehabbing from a torn ACL suffered late in the season finale against the Chargers, and Treyvon Hester has yet to prove himself as a starter. Jon Gruden has said multiple times he needs a menacing inside presence to alleviate pressure on Khalil Mack, and Payne just might be the answer the Raiders want.7. Vita Vea, DT, WashingtonVea weighs a hulking 347 pounds, according to his NFL.com draft profile, and that figure is sure to disrupt the middle of any offense. His brute strength alone may draw attention away from Mack, and that’s exactly what Gruden wants. Oakland fared decently against the run last season, ranking 12th league-wide in rushing yards allowed per game with 108.9, and Vea would factor primarily in that regard. He, along with Payne or Michigan defensive tackle Maurice Hurst if selected at No. 10, would have some underrated shoes to fill after the departure of D-lineman Denico Autry, who was effective in rushing the quarterback and batting down passes at the line last season en route to earning a chunky new contract with the Indianapolis Colts in free agency.6. Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre DameMcGlinchey is regarded as the top offensive lineman in the draft, so the Raiders will naturally give him a look with their need at right tackle. Is it possible a team ahead of Oakland (i.e. Cleveland at No. 4, especially if the Browns take a quarterback No. 1) snatches McGlinchey to play left tackle? Of course it is. The Raiders have more pressing needs on the defensive side of the ball anyway, but the Notre Dame standout is an intriguing prospect that may be a dark-horse candidate for the 10th pick.5. Maurice Hurst, DT, MichiganWhile Hurst weighs less than 300 pounds, his agility in the trenches may provide more opportunities for whatever team takes him to reach the quarterback from the defensive tackle spot. Hurst didn’t participate at the combine because of a heart condition, but he was cleared to partake in Michigan’s Pro Day. While his health track record may cause some teams to be cautious in selecting him high, his upside might just match that of a top-10 selection. We may never know who the Raiders value more of Hurst, Vea and Payne if all three are available at No. 10 and Oakland takes none of them, but the Raiders certainly wouldn’t be faulted for addressing a major area of need with any of the three in the first round.4. Roquan Smith, LB, GeorgiaSmith’s name has popped up most often at No. 10 in mock drafts, it seems, with the Raiders needing upgrades at linebacker. If NaVorro Bowman signs elsewhere before the draft (yes, Bowman is still a free agent), linebacker might vault to No. 1 on the list of Raiders biggest needs. Smith commandeered the second unit of defense for national runner-up Georgia, and he’s a freak athlete capable of sniffing out running backs or defending against the pass. We saw Oakland linebackers struggle to do the latter last season. And even if Bowman does return, Smith could feasibly start beside him and Tahir Whitehead in what would figure to be a much-improved linebacking corps.3. Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia TechEdmunds is four inches taller and about 20 pounds heavier than Smith, so he’s a bit more of a physical specimen but equally as capable of making plays from sideline to sideline. There doesn’t seem to be too much differentiating the two linebackers as the unanimous top two at their position in the draft. At least one should be available at No. 10, and the Raiders would be applauded for taking either.2. Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, AlabamaFitzpatrick has been tabbed as high as No. 4 to the Browns, so he could be long gone by the time Oakland picks. If he somehow falls to the Raiders, they’ll be faced with a “take the best player available” dilemma over drafting for biggest need. He could still satisfy needs, albeit not defensive tackle or three-down linebacker, since he can play safety, slot cornerback and even linebacker in some sets. Not to mention, new Raiders defensive backs coach Derrick Ansley was Fitzpatrick’s defensive backs coach at Alabama.1. Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio StateGareon Conley might have McKenzie and Gruden on speed dial if his former Ohio State defensive backfield mate falls to No. 10. He’d figure to start right away in a cornerbacks corps that lost Sean Smith, David Amerson and TJ Carrie despite adding Rashaan Melvin, Leon Hall and Shareece Wright. Ward ran a 4.32-second 40-yard dash at the combine, so he’d already be the fastest corner on the Raiders, though a healthy Conley would probably beg to differ. Cornerback was the worst position on Oakland’s roster last season, and the addition of Ward would be a resounding upgrade and might just be that instant hit McKenzie needs.  


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