The 2021 NFL draft is now nearly two weeks behind us. After all this time I am still in fog trying to digest what happened. There were things I liked… there were things I despised. I am still not sure what to make of it.
Round 1, Pick 17: Alex Leatherwood – OT – Alabama
The Raiders do it again! As predicted, the Raiders piss on all the consensus data and go with their guy a full round before he was projected to be selected. Are the Raider staff members actually mad scientist geniuses that are ahead of the other 31 teams in the NFL? Their track record says… Fuck No. Let’s briefly look back at every Gruden lead first round draft in his second tenure.
2018: #15 Kolton Miller
2019: #4 Clelin Ferrell
2019: #24 (From CHI) Josh Jacobs
2019: #27 (From DAL) Johnathan Abram
2020: #12 Henry Ruggs
2020: #19 (From CHI) Damon Arnette
2021: #17 Alex Leatherwood
The Mack and Cooper trades had the potential to catapult this franchise to the stratosphere. This was video game type draft capitol that largely seems squandered for the moment. To be fair there is still a ton of potential left on the table here. Kolton Miller has turned his career around. Ferrell was improved when he was able to see the field in 2020. Jacobs is a talented player but at one of the least valuable positions on the field. 2020 was Abram’s first real season on the field. 2020 in general was a worldwide shit show so Ruggs and Arnette do have some added excuse built into there lack luster rookie campaigns.
It is very easy to say Amari Cooper > Johnathan Abram and Khalil Mack > Josh Jacobs + Damon Arnette.
All this being said… There is no evidence that Leatherwood, outside of his awesome name, is anything more than a reach at 17 overall. However, if Kolton Miller has taught me anything, three seasons from now Leatherwood may be one of the better tackles in the league and I will own up to my judgements. It is not that I do not like Leatherwood. He was one of the tackle prospects that I was fond of. He’s a former five star recruit out of high school, A national champion, and the 2020 Outland award winner / first team all American. I just do not like where the Raiders drafted him. Trading down is obviously more complex than I will ever understand but even if it is for minimal value just figure out a way to get it done and pick him 10-15 spots later. After blowing up the offensive line, you can already pencil him in at the starter at RT. If Leather, and the rest of the youth movement pans out, the Raiders will be in a much better position financially to retain and acquire additional talent moving forward.
Round 2, Pick 43: Trevon Moehrig – S – TCU
Finally! A player I can rejoice about! Leading up to the draft Moehrig was largely considered the best safety in the class yet, suspiciously, he was the third safety selected. Post draft, I did hear some chatter about a late injury that may have caused other interested teams to shy away from taking him. Hopefully this is nothing to be concerned with because Moehrig the type of player the Raiders desperately need on defense. A true cover guy that will allow Abram to focus on what he does best, playing downhill and putting everything in front of him in the turf. He won the Jim Thorpe award as the best DB in the country as well as being an all-conference selection in 2020. I am very high on this pick and the potential boost Moehrig can bring to the defense. Easily my favorite pick for the Raiders this year.
Round 3, Pick 79: Irony…. Ok it was actually Malcolm Koonce – Edge – Buffalo
I believe Koonce is now the 2nd highest player drafted out of Buffalo. Do I even need to bring up who the highest player drafted out of Buffalo was? Because I am going to do it… It was Kahil fucking Mack! I really had no idea who Malcolm Koonce was until FB Alec Ingold read the pick. Upon further YouTubing, I have to admit I am intrigued by what I saw. He’s listed at 250 lbs but I don’t know where it is, as he looks much lighter even in pads. Regardless, I saw an edge defender than can move. Very fast off the edge and very nimble. The only question mark that will need to be answered is can he translate from small school to NFL. The pass rush bar is set very low in Vegas so I think Koonce will be able to work him self into the starting rotation this season.
Round 3, Pick 80: Divine Deablo – S – VT
Another safety already? Oh no, the Raiders are drafting a safety with the intent to move him to LB. Wait didn’t they just do that with safety Tanner Muse last year? Yes they did. How’d that work out? Undetermined because he missed the entire 2020 season. The Raiders really do hate linebackers or just don’t even know what a linebacker is. I am pretty sure they want to phase the position out of their team. It is probably the most egregiously mishandled position on the team. I really thought this could be the year the Raiders invest in LB. Since they are so fond of moving LB sized safeties to LB, why not draft a safety sized LB in J-OK and just leave him at LB where he excelled at in college? Personally, with J-OK still available by pick 52, I would have went all in to move back up to grab him. I feel like the two third round picks would have been enough but even if it wasn’t I would have given up more. With the amount of draft picks they’ve had over the past three years they could have stomached a lighter load this year and allow some balance when all these rookie contracts need renewal. (Optimistically dreaming they all warrant renewing) But here we are, another LB experiment that I am not expecting much from.
Round 4, Pick 143: Tyree Gillespie – S – Missouri
Another Safety! Last year was the year of WRs… now it is the year of safeties! Saw some nice highlights out of him on the tube. Speedy, good pursuit, probably a good special teams player out of the gate. A few noteworthy college highlights for Gillespie… He played well against the national champs, Alabama and held up in coverage in a game against Florida’s Kyle Pitts. A small sample size, but I’ll latch onto anything promising. The safety room is getting a bit crowded with Abram, Joseph, Moehrig, and Gillespie. The competition is surely welcomed as the Raiders need to do whatever it takes to get the best combination of players on the field.
Round 5, Pick 167: Nate Hobbs – CB – Illinois
Diversification? What’s that? Draft another player for the secondary! Hobbs is a late round height, weight, speed guy that is worth a flyer. At 6’ tall, approaching 200 lbs, with a vertical north of 40’’ he fits the Raider athletic mold for a corner. No telling what will become of Hobbs in the NFL but if the Raiders keep swinging on secondary players they are bound to hit on one sooner or later.
Round 7, Pick 230: Jimmy Morrissey – C – Pittsburgh
Lastly, some more youth for the offensive line. Like fellow Raider Hunter Renfrow, Morrissey won the Burlsworth award for the top college player who began their career as a walk-on. He is a high character guy that the Raiders covet who could one day develop into Rodney Hudson’s successor. I don’t know a lot about him but he seems like the kind of kid you should take a flyer on in the seventh and final round of the draft. I am looking forward to seeing this kid develop.
What are your thoughts on the Las Vegas Raiders 2021 draft class? Log in and leave your comments below.
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