Our draft analyst looks at potential first-round targets for their first draft as the Las Vegas Raiders
With this year’s draft in the books, it’s the perfect time to look at next year’s draft and very early (we mean way early) targets for the Raiders in 2020.
For all of us in Las Vegas, and Raider Nation around the world, the 2020 NFL Draft will be exciting on several fronts. The draft will not only be here in picturesque Las Vegas, but it will be the first draft for the official Las Vegas Raiders.
Another year with multiple first-round picks gives the Raiders plenty of ammo to add to its growing roster. After a very good foundational draft in 2019, the Raiders will look to continue the ramp up to building a championship-quality team in their new home
Methodology: To figure out the possible draft order, I used the current Las Vegas odds on which team will win the Super Bowl as my guide.
Pick 8: A.J. Epenesa, DE, Iowa
A rare five-star defensive recruit for the Hawkeyes who last year showed glimpses of what is to come. He racked up 10.5 sacks despite not being a full-time starter. The Iowa defensive line is loaded with talent this year and will provide Epenesa with a ton of single coverage. A great mix of speed and power, Epenesa will need to prove he can apply the same pressure as a full-time starter on all three downs. Epenesa, on the other side of the line from newly drafted Clelin Ferrell, would give the Raiders the much-needed pass rush they have lacked in past years. That rush should be better in 2019 but the addition of Epenesa could make it an elite unit if he lives up to his potential his final year at Iowa.
Pick 26: Dylan Moses, LB, Alabama
I might as well get the “Gunther’s defense doesn’t value linebackers” narrative out of the way early. Moses is the next up in the long line of Crimson Tide linebackers that will be hearing their name called early on draft night 2020. Nick Saban started recruiting Moses in the eighth grade with the idea of him one day being the quarterback of the defense. Sideline to sideline speed as well as great instincts are the keys to Moses’s game. He will be in the hunt for the coveted Butkus Award, which he was a semi-finalist for in 2018. Marshall and Burfict are no spring chickens and the need for speed at the linebacker position may rear it’s ugly head this season.
Yes, being a draftnik and a football junkie is a sickness. The 2019 NFL Draft just finished and we have no idea how it will pan out or how the Raiders path will unfold this coming season. Yet it’s worth looking down the line to what might be.
Of course, this can and will change throughout next season, both college and pro. With two picks again in the first round of the 2020 draft, we will have to wait and see what Mayock and Gruden cook up. A quarterback will always be an option next year in a draft that has a few potential top talents, but as I’ve said before, I’m a Carr guy and believe with added talent around him the Raiders will not be looking to draft a replacement.