The 2021 NFL Draft is a little over two months away. While the NFL Combine was canceled, and college pro days will look much different this season, the scouting process of mock drafts will be no different.
Building through the NFL Draft is always instrumental in laying the foundation for an NFL franchise. Last season the Raiders found two starters: Henry Ruggs and Damon Arnette. However, aside from their two first-round picks, the team didn’t discover much value after Day 1 of last year’s draft. This Raiders 2021 NFL mock draft will focus on areas of need while also selecting the best player available at the time of each selection.
In the last two seasons, the Raiders held multiple first-round picks. This year, that won’t be the case. Las Vegas will make seven picks over three days, making the importance of each draft pick significantly greater.
For the purpose of this Raiders’ mock draft, I’ll be using Pro Football Network’s mock draft simulator to make each selection. No trades will be involved.
Round 1, Pick 17: LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah — Notre Dame
Linebacker isn’t the biggest need for the Raiders’ defense but Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah can play other spots on defense particularly well too. At Notre Dame, he took snaps at safety, slot cornerback, and rushed the passer in addition to playing linebacker. In today’s pass-heavy NFL, defenders have must be able to run sideline-to-sideline and Owusu-Koramoah fits that mold to a tee.
Another reason why Owusu-Koramoah makes sense for the Raiders is because of their newly hired defensive coordinator Gus Bradley. Owusu-Koramoah has the ability to lockdown Bradley’s hybrid role — similar to how he deployed Derwin James as a member of the Chargers.
Despite Owusu-Koramoah being listed as a linebacker, some teams may view him more as a safety because of his 215-pound frame. The Raiders’ group of safety’s burned them far too many times last season, making Owusu-Koramoah a potential fit on Day 1 of the NFL Draft. The Raiders lacked a clear-cut difference-maker on defense last season, meanwhile, Owusu-Koramoah was the main playmaker for the Fighting Irish defense who constantly played with his hair on fire throughout their College Football Playoff push.
Round 2, Pick 48: OT Dillion Radunz — North Dakota State
Whether the Raiders keep right tackle Trent Brown on the current roster or decide to move off him this offseason, drafting a tackle feels almost inevitable. Brown is spectacular when he plays but he hasn’t been able to stay healthy during his entire stint with the Raiders. Even if he is kept on the roster for the 2021 season, a swing tackle is much needed as the Raiders have had to rely on the depth of their tackle position in each of the last two seasons. In large part, they’ve essentially become the starting tackle for large chunks at a time.
Selecting Dillion Radunz in the second round of this Raiders’ mock draft can set up Las Vegas quite nicely in two ways. He could become the Raiders’ swing tackle in his rookie year if Brown is back in 2021. Or Radunz could be penciled in as the starting right tackle if the team parts ways with Brown.
Radunz isn’t your typical small school prospect. He’s played exceptionally well and despite North Dakota State being an FCS program, they’re as good as it gets at that level. Radunz has received draft buzz regarding him as a late first-round pick, but after the Missouri Valley Football Conference canceled the season this fall, his stock has dwindled a bit without seeing him in live games. Radunz did participate in the 2021 Senior Bowl, facing mostly players from Power 5 conferences and Radunz held his own.
Round 3, Pick 80: EDGE Quincy Roche — Miami
The Raiders’ pass-rushing needs have continued to haunt them since the departure of Khalil Mack. They’ve drafted pass rushers in the first-round, mid-rounds, signed players in free agency, but nothing has seemed to fix their daunting issue.
Quincy Roche out of the University of Miami would provide the Las Vegas defensive line with a mixture of speed and power. Roche has thrived during his time at Temple and then making the move to the ACC, joining the Hurricanes’ defense where he recorded 14.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks.
Roche averaged just under nine sacks per season in his final two years in the college ranks. He isn’t the most prolific sack artist as some of the first-round prospects. However, getting a guy of Roche’s caliber to pair with Maxx Crosby, Clelin Ferrell and perhaps other reinforcements in free agency, would suggest an improvement is coming for the Raiders’ defensive line.
Round 4, Pick 121: RB Chuba Hubbard — Oklahoma State
The Raiders have their bell-cow running back with Josh Jacobs taking the majority of the workload. But what they need is a compliment to Jacobs as a part of their running back group.
Oklahoma State’s Chuba Hubbard is an intriguing mid-round option for the Raiders to pursue. Hubbard’s 2019 campaign was sensational, rushing for over 2,000 yards and 21 touchdowns. His 2020 campaign didn’t quite live up to the expectations after his monster sophomore season but nonetheless, Hubbard has the physicality to be a stable RB2 behind Jacobs.
In terms of his pass-catching, Hubbard’s contributions in the receiving game still remain a work in progress. He averaged 15.5 catches over his final two seasons in college, averaging nine yards per grab.
Round 5, Pick 163: WR Cornell Powell — Clemson
Last week it was reported, the Raiders plan to release wide receiver Tyrell Williams. Plus, Las Vegas may end up seeing Nelson Agholor walk out the door and find a new team as he hits the free-agent market. Williams was the Raiders’ No. 1 wide receiver in 2019 before missing the entire 2020 season with a labrum tear, and Agholor recorded 896 yards for eight touchdowns. That’s a lot to replace as adding another pass-catcher to the mix is much needed.
The Raiders do, however, have Henry Ruggs III and Bryan Edwards entering year two, and by all accounts, their expectations will be raised in 2021. The receiving core isn’t forced into drafting another receiver in the early rounds, but at least grabbing one over the seven rounds is greatly anticipated.
What’s a Raiders’ mock draft without selecting a Clemson Tiger? By now it’s well established that coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock have a knack for selecting former Clemson players. Cornell Powell is a Day 3 option who has experience on the outside and in the slot. Powell is fundamentally sound and can help stretch the field as a rookie. In his final season at Clemson, Powell averaged 16.6 yards per reception on 53 catches for 882 yards.
Round 6, Pick 204: CB Camryn Bynum — California
The Raiders are already considerably young at the cornerback position so this is an area the team may look to add in free agency as well. However, adding another cornerback in the draft is a move that will help provide depth behind the starting cornerbacks.
While Trayvon Mullen and Damon Arnette are young and physical starting-caliber players, they aren’t quite the finished product to ignore the position altogether.
Camryn Bynum is an outside cornerback who was a staple for the Cal defense throughout his four seasons in Berkley. Bynum was a disruptive defensive back, that tallied eight or more pass breakups in three of his four seasons, while also recording six interceptions. Bynum isn’t a plug-and-play cornerback but he can offer stability to the Raiders’ secondary that needs a reboot.
Round 7, Pick 246: DT Jordon Scott — Oregon
Arguably the Raiders’ most glaring need at this time is defensive tackle. While selecting a player in the seventh round of this Raiders’ mock draft doesn’t immediately sure up the hole in the middle of the defensive line, however, the Raiders are likely to be suitors on plenty of free-agent defensive tackles.
Assuming they inquire and possibly land one of Leonard Williams, Ndamukong Suh and Shelby Harris, drafting another defensive tackle is still on the list of areas to target in the NFL Draft but won’t be the priority in the early rounds.
Oregon’s Jordon Scott is a run-stuffing defensive tackle that plays the run well. Scott doesn’t provide much pass-rushing upside but given the position, that’s not out of the ordinary. Scott finished his career at Oregon with 13 tackles for loss and three sacks.