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Raiders’ NFL Draft preview: Possible targets in first round, needs and where they pick

Anthony Galaviz

The Fresno Bee

With the 17th pick in the NFL draft, the Las Vegas Raiders select ….

It is anyone’s guess what will the Raiders do with their first-round selection. We will find out next Thursday when the 2021 NFL draft emanates from Cleveland.

The Raiders have had some success at the 17th spot, selecting Hall of Fame left guard Gene Upshaw in 1967 and in 2000 taking kicker Sebastian Janikowski, who scored over 100 points 11 times in his 17-year career.

The team hasn’t hit their mark in past drafts under general manager Mike Mayock and coach Jon Gruden.

The Raiders had nine selections in the 2018 draft, the first one after Gruden returned to the sidelines. Of those players picked, only two remain: left tackle Kolton Miller and wide receiver Marcell Ateman. Defensive end Arden Key (third round) and defensive tackle Maurice Hurst (fifth round) were released last week.

In the 2019 draft, the first under Mayock’s watch, the Raiders made nine selections, including running back Josh Jacobs (24th). The Raiders are hoping for improvements from Clelin Ferrell (fourth overall) and Johnathan Abram (27th).

In the 2020 draft, Las Vegas had seven selections and ended up trading third-round selection Lynn Bowden to the Miami Dolphins. Mayock has high hopes about wide receiver Henry Ruggs III (12th) and cornerback Damon Arnette (19th).

Point blank: The Raiders need to make their 2021 draft selections count. There are needs at right tackle, guard, edge, cornerback, safety and linebacker. Defensive tackle can’t be ruled out, either.

On Monday, the Raiders signed cornerback Rasul Douglas and brought back safety Karl Joseph two weeks ago. Does that mean the Raiders will go away from drafting a player in the secondary? Mayock didn’t reveal their draft plans Thursday, but understands “we’re very aware of our needs.”

“Obviously when the needs fit up with where you are in the draft board, that’s awesome,” Mayock said. “When they don’t, you have to be a little careful.”

Possible targets

Looking around mock drafts, the Raiders could be in a prime position to fill one of their needs.

Available players that could land at No. 17 includes tackles Alijah Vera-Tucker, Teven Jenkins, Christian Darrisaw and Alex Letherwood; edge rushers Kwity Paye, Jaelan Phillips and Gregory Rousseau; linebackers Micah Parsons, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Jamin Davis and Jayson Oweh; cornerback Greg Newsome; safety Trevon Moehrig; linebacker/edge rushers Zaven Collins and Azeez Ojulari; defensive tackle Christian Barmore; and cornerbacks Jaycee Horn and Caleb Farley.

The Raiders could also trade down.

“You have to be nimble,” Mayock said. “You have to be willing to go either way and as the draft develops make those decisions.”

Here are the rounds, order and overall picks for the Raiders:

First round, No. 17: Original selection

Second round, No. 48: Original selection

Third round, No. 79: From the Arizona Cardinals

Third round, No. 80: Original selection

Fourth round, No. 121: Original selection

Fifth round, No. 162: From the Miami Dolphins

Fifth round, No. 167: From the Seattle Seahawks

Sixth round, No. 200: Original selection

The Raiders acquired the 79th overall selection from Arizona in exchange for center Rodney Hudson and a 2021 seventh-round selection on March 19.

Las Vegas acquired 162nd overall selection and linebacker Raekwon McMillan from Miami in exchange for running back Lynn Bowden Jr. and a 2021 fourth-round selection on Aug. 29, 2020.

The Raiders acquired 167th overall selection from Seattle in exchange for guard Gabe Jackson on March 20.

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