Las Vegas Raiders 2023 Draft Grade

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For as long as Josh McDaniels is head coach in Las Vegas, the Raiders will remain in football purgatory. If McDaniels couldn’t make it work after an offseason of the ages in 2022, don’t hold out hope for the Jimmy G era under that same insufficient leadership. It was long before the loss to the Jeff Saturday-led Colts (read: Jeff Sunday) where Raider Nation had probably had enough of yet another failed Belichick understudy. And among Belichick understudies, only McDaniels has had THREE failed head coaching gigs. It will be until Mark Davis and the Raiders brass can afford to pay another head coach before we see McDaniels inevitably retreat back to “senior offensive assistant for the New England Patriots” or something of the sort. In the lead up to the 2023 draft there were a few murmurs of the Raiders courting some of the top quarterback prospects, visiting with all of Bryce Young, CJ Stroud, Anthony Richardson, Will Levis, Hendon Hooker, and alas, eventual draft pick Aidan O’Connell. With pick number seven, the Sunday Slate even flirted with the possibility of “Las Levis” before returning to more logical takes. With McDaniels still in the seat that always seemed hot, Raider Nation should take a collective sigh of relief that he didn’t have his hands on any 1st Round QB selection or even a trade up for one. Although half of the aforementioned names had already been selected by pick seven, an early quarterback selection would’ve signaled faith in McDaniels to develop said quarterback. This would also mean McDaniels operates not only with a strong say in personnel decisions, but with a loose enough leash after going 6-11 to earn the opportunity to develop a quarterback of his choosing. Instead, the Raiders brought in Jimmy Garoppolo on a three year deal that (not coincidentally) has an out after year one with an $18.75 Million dollar dead cap hit. Translation: If McDaniels’ 2023-2024 iteration of the Raiders doesn’t win as many as nine games next year with this Raiders club, he and his free agent QB will be sent packing, and most likely back to New England. Why does the Belichick coaching tree operate as the Wahlberg brothers of the NFL? You tell me.

Now that we cleansed our system of all that, let’s look ahead and see if we can find some hope. At pick seven overall the Raiders drafted a Red Raider, edge defender Tyree Wilson, the highest drafted football player ever out of Texas Tech (take that, Pat!). Wilson was the Sunday Slate’s fifth ranked prospect, making this a more than sensible pick, and should provide starter-level havoc opposite Mad Maxx Crosby alongside an aging Chandler Jones. 

On Day 2 – Round 2, immediately after Detroit had traded up to select fellow tight end Sam LaPorta out of Iowa, the Raiders traded up to Pick 35 by sending picks 38 and 141 to Indianapolis in order to select the Sunday Slate’s TE1 (Draft’s TE3) Michael Mayer from Notre Dame. Learn more about our love for Mayer in our episode on this year’s tight end class. This was a stellar move in our book as Mayer was our 19th ranked prospect and a beautiful replacement for former Raider Darren Waller. Beyond these top two picks, albeit premier ones, the Raiders pretty consistently reached with their seven remaining selections on Days 2 and 3. Here are the rest of the newly drafted Raiders listed by where they were selected alongside our pre-draft prospect ranking for each.

By no means are these seven players bad picks or players, the difference in draft pick selection and their Sunday Slate Pre-Draft rankings is simply suggestive of better players being available at those same positions by our assessment. There’s reason to believe that Young, Tucker, Bennett, and Smith II could conceivably develop into decent-to-good starters, it’ll just depend on their playing time opportunities and how they play out their rookie deal. If three of their picks not named Wilson or Mayer develop into starters by year four, then the Sunday Slate probably had some misses here and we can discuss the A/B range. With the strong selections at the top of this draft in Wilson and Mayer carrying most of this grade, we give the Raiders a C+, but this is like a 79 graded C+.

Las Vegas Raiders Draft Grade: B+

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