ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Raider Nation has spoken, so to speak, on my Twitter timeline when it comes to whom the Oakland Raiders should select at No. 10 in this week’s NFL draft.
Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith was the runaway winner in my Twitter poll, garnering 48 percent of the 2,558 votes cast. Alabama safety Minkah Fitzpatrick was a distant second, with 26 percent of the vote.
If these four players are available for the #Raiders at No. 10 overall, who should they draft? (Yes, I realize trading back and grabbing, say, Michigan DT Maurice Hurst or UTSA DE Marcus Davenport could be an option).— Paul Gutierrez (@PGutierrezESPN) April 19, 2018
The four players in the poll were among the five I floated on Monday as potential picks for the Raiders at No. 10, with the obvious caveat: What if one or more of them are no longer available?
Which brings us to today.
Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie would not shy away from trading down, especially if a certain scenario presented itself, such as two top quarterbacks still being on the board and three of the aforementioned potential targets already having been selected.
So what types of players do McKenzie and returning coach Jon Gruden like?
“Good football players,” McKenzie said. “It’s not about height, weight, speed or where they come from. It’s about who they are as players. Do they love playing football? All those types of characteristics that you truly like about football players.”
And sure, the Raiders were active in free agency, signing 20 players since free agency opened on March 14. But that will not keep Oakland from drafting a player at a position it already addressed.
“If we saw a player out there that we could really go get, that’s what we did this offseason,” McKenzie said. “Whether it’s to patch holes, we just wanted to bring in some good competition, some good players, some leadership. That’s what we did.
“Now, going into this draft, that will play a part only from the standpoint of competition. We’re not going to not get a position player because we signed a certain guy. If there’s a player on our board that we really like, we’re still going to try to get him.”
If the Raiders do trade back, here are five players who might be available later in the first round and still address needs:
Michigan defensive tackle Maurice Hurst
Silver and Black: Hurst may well be the best pass-rushing defensive tackle in the draft, as evidenced by his 12.5 sacks since 2015. And as Gruden has said, the Raiders need an interior pass rush to help out Khalil Mack on the outside.
Silver and Blech: At 6-foot-2, Hurst is a tad short for a DT and reportedly has short arms that would allow him to be manhandled down low. Plus, an EKG at the combine showed irregularities with his heart.
Iowa cornerback Josh Jackson
Silver and Black: A big corner at 6-1, 192 pounds, Jackson is the top-ranked player at his position according to many draftniks. He had eight interceptions and 27 passes defensed and was best when the lights were brightest.
Silver and Blech: As noted Monday: Another cornerback in the first round? Really? After DJ Hayden in 2013 and Gareon Conley last year and the signings of Rashaan Melvin, Shareece Wright, Leon Hall, Senquez Golson and Daryl Worley? Plus, what if Jackson is merely a one-year wonder?
Texas-San Antonio defensive end Marcus Davenport
Silver and Black: A bookend pass-rusher for Khalil Mack, from a small school, like Mack from Buffalo? Yes, please. Sure, Bradley Chubb is the class of this batch and Harold Landry may be right behind him and Arden Key may be next, but Davenport is rising fast, based on his 22 career sacks, including a career-best 8.5 as a senior.
Silver and Blech: Davenport went to high school and college in San Antonio, so homesickness might be a factor. He's extremely raw as a mid-major prospect, so adapting to the next level is also a concern.
Alabama defensive tackle Da’Ron Payne
Silver and Black: A no-brainer if he is still here ... and if you buy the notion that he is more ready to push the pocket than, say, Vita Vea, let alone Hurst. Payne is ranked the top DT in the draft by many observers, so there.
Silver and Blech: Like Hurst, he is relatively short at 6-2. But at 311 pounds, he can occupy blockers. Still, he had only one sack last season, and the Raiders need someone to push the pocket rather than stop the run.
Oklahoma offensive tackle Orlando Brown
Silver and Black: Thinking second or third round here, but what value at either of those spots. At 6-8, 360 pounds, and with the Raiders' O-line set at four of the five positions, Brown could be worked in at right tackle as Donald Penn’s heir apparent to protect Derek Carr’s blind side.
Silver and Blech: The son of the late “Zeus” had a disastrous combine, which is why he went from a purported top-10 pick to parts unknown. Will he be motivated by the bad showing, or is that who he really is as a player?