The Oakland Raiders can solidify themselves as the best team in the AFC West with a strong draft. Whether on special teams, offense or defense, they need to continue to find those late-round players who can contribute in some way.
With a strong draft, Oakland should have no problem winning double-digit games. However, they still have a handful of needs that they should address.
Donnel Pumphrey, RB, San Diego State
With the probable signing of Marshawn Lynch, the Raiders still would need a complimentary back. They have a couple of guys on the roster, but nobody who will really strike fear in you. Pumphrey isn’t going to be an every-down back, but he can carve himself out a nice role.
Despite his size, he is incredibly good at pass blocking, arguably the best in the draft. He knows where to be and that should help him get on the field instantly in Oakland. Pumphrey plays faster than his 4.48-second 40-yard dash implies. He can get to top speed in a hurry and make you miss in tight quarters. San Diego State lined him up in the slot, and new offensive coordinator Todd Downing would probably like another toy to play with. Pumphrey gives the Raiders a speed element out of the backfield to compliment Lynch while being able to excel in pass protection.
Blair Brown, LB, Ohio
The Raiders need smart players who can read, diagnose, and finish at linebacker. Brown can do that. The defense was sloppy at the second level last year. In 742 snaps, Brown missed 3 tackles last year, per Pro Football Focus. That’s fantastic.
Take a peak at Brown’s athletic profile. He’s a high-end athlete who will add some much-needed athleticism to the Raiders linebacker group. Last year, their hesitant linebackers would get “caught up in the wash” and waste plays where the defensive linemen did their job. With Brown, that wouldn’t be an issue. He doesn’t have the ideal size, but he’s a good football player who would help the Raiders right away.
Ryan Switzer, WR, North Carolina
The Raiders certainly have more pressing needs than receiver, but when their offense is humming, there are three-to-four productive receivers on the field at a time. The offense ran a bunch of quick hitting routes as well. The Raiders need somebody who can get open. Seth Roberts and basically any non-Michael Crabtree/Amari Cooper receiver wasn’t cutting it last year.
Switzer is a savvy route runner who does a good job of leaning on defenders and using his quickness to create separation. With a drop rate of 4.9 percent, he’s also reliable. He fits the Raiders offense, and Switzer can diagnose defenses on the fly. He’s not physical, and he won’t take the top off of a defense, but Switzer has special teams ability and will be able to convert on short-to-intermediate routes.
Dalvin Tomlinson, DT, Alabama
As you move toward the end of the draft, teams usually add players for “insurance” purposes. Tomlinson is insurance for Mario Edwards. He is a dominant run defender who can two-gap if needed. However, if you block him one-on-one, he’s likely going to win that matchup.
He’s not much of a pass rushing threat, but Tomlinson can play both interior lineman positions. Dan Williams and Darius Latham didn’t exactly get the job done last year. Tomlinson can be an upgrade down the line, and he can be an integral part of the defensive line rotation early on in his career.
Cameron Sutton, CB, Tennessee
The Raiders would be foolish to not draft a corner in the first two rounds. You could make a strong argument that they should double down on the position in this draft.
Sutton is a guy that will give you 85 percent of what Adoree’ Jackson will on defense and special teams. Sutton has great ball skills and awareness. He is a bit smaller compared to what Oakland usually goes after, but he can excel in nickel packages. He does a good job of sitting on routes and he is a willing tackler with more physicality than you’d expect. Sutton has a chance to outplay his draft position and would be exactly what the Raiders are missing in the slot.