The Oakland Raiders went defense heavy through the first three rounds of the NFL Draft picking cornerback Gareon Conley, safety Obi Melifanwu and defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes. They could easily continue down that path in the fourth round or potentially take their first offensive pick. Either way, here are some names they could consider:
Anthony Walker, Jr, ILB
Old school style linebacker who is big and physical in the run game, Walker is actually fairly athletic for his size. He doesn’t have sideline to sideline range by any means, but he can cover more grass than you might expect. He’s pretty raw technique-wise and can have issues getting off of blocks as well as with missed tackles. That being said, he’s a hard working and smart player who coaches will love. He’s fairly limited and may never be a three down starter but he’s at worst solid depth and a special teams contributor.
Carl Lawson, DE
Another guy who would probably be a first round talent if not for major injury concerns. If you are willing to look past those concerns, which is hard, you can find yourself a very good and versatile defensive end. He’s in the edge category because of his ability to rush the passer and how valuable that is in the NFL. But what makes Lawson so attractive is that he’s a beast against the run, not just the pass. He’s not a speed rusher but rather uses his power and explosive first burst to win battles at the line of scrimmage. He’s more of a traditional defensive end than an edge guy who can play outside linebacker or end, but again, the focus on his value is that he is a threat in the pass rush game. And for the Raiders, the fact that he wins with power is appealing because they might be able to move him inside on clear passing downs for a NASCAR style formation. Meanwhile, he’s also good on early downs and can give Bruce Irvin or Khalil Mack a rest.
Blair Brown, ILB
Dare I say it? Ben Heeney 2.0? Brown is another undersized linebacker who has a crazy motor along with very good play recognition skills. Much like Heeney, he’s what one might call a “find the ball, get the ball” kind of player. He makes plays by staying ahead of blocks and weaving through traffic rather than taking on blocks and trying to stack or shed them. Also like Heeney, he’s a high energy player who will immediately play and play well on special teams. But given his size deficiencies, you have to wonder if his ceiling is very high.