The Raiders’ current roster still remains with a few eye-opening holes, but none bigger than the vacancy at right tackle headlines the list. Here’s a look at the several options the Raiders could pursue at the position in round one of the 2021 NFL Draft:
This year’s group of offensive tackles are arguably one of — if not the deepest — position group in the 2021 NFL Draft. As the Raiders continue seeking a starting right tackle to replace Trent Brown, who they sent to the New England Patriots when the new league year began, they’ll have a variety of options to presumably insert a rookie on the right side of their offensive line.
Currently, the Raiders sit with $2.7 million in cap space, per Over the Cap. While Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock have been heavily involved in reshaping their offensive line — for better or worse — they don’t have the adequate funds to sign a right tackle at this point in free agency. Brandon Parker, who enters his fourth year in the league, has seen action in 19 games over three seasons and based on what he’s shown it’s evident he’s not the man for the starting job.
That means the Raiders will be expected to find that offensive tackle to protect the right side of quarterback Derek Carr in the form of the NFL Draft. It can be a risky solution having to depend on a rookie to start a full season immediately. But in another sense, Raiders’ offensive line coach Tom Cable, groomed Kolton Miller quite well over his first three seasons. So perhaps the Raiders are hoping he can do it again.
Christian Darrisaw, Virginia Tech
Darrisaw is probably the highest-graded offensive tackle prospect that the Raiders have a chance at, but even he isn’t a sure thing to still be on the board. Darrisaw started 39 games for Virginia Tech, including nine starts in 2020. He earned ACC OL of the Week honors after paving the way for the Hookies’ group of running backs in which they rushed for 324 yards against Duke.
With a sturdy 6-5, 315-pound frame, Darrisaw exhibits efficient lateral quickness in pass protection and can work through defenders in the run game to open up rushing holes. He’s held to a high regard in the scouting community for what he’s expected to display at the next level but would be asked to play right tackle for the Raiders, after solely playing on the left side throughout his college career. Therefore, picking Darrisaw with the No. 17 pick would come with some risk on whether or not he can transition to the opposing side of the offensive line. However, his talent tops the group among potential players the Raiders may have to their availability.
Teven Jenkins, Oklahoma State
Unlike Darrisaw, Jenkins played right tackle in college and would not have to encounter a position change if the Raiders select him. While he looks up to par as being a right tackle for the long haul, Jenkins does come with position versatility, as he saw minimal time at left tackle and right guard.
Jenkins didn’t allow a single sack throughout his junior and senior seasons, demonstrating just how difficult he was for opposing edge rushers to beat. For a frame of 6-5, 315 pounds, Jenkins sets forth an athletic mold, allowing him to move rather freely. At his Oklahoma State pro day, he ran a 4.99 40-yard dash, while also throwing up 36 reps on the bench press. He has great length to stick along the edge as he measured in with 32 1/2″ inch arms. His play has earned him the recognition of being a mid to late first-round draft choice, and his pro day testing results have only expedited his draft stock to an even greater extent.
Alijah Vera-Tucker, USC
A two-year starter at USC, Vera-Tucker lined up as the team’s starting left guard in 2019 and left tackle in 2020. While he may be viewed as an offensive tackle for some teams and solely an offensive guard for others, Vera-Tucker put together a highly productive season at each of the two positions. After moving to left tackle last season, Vera-Tucker was awarded the Morris trophy — given to the PAC-12’s top offensive lineman.
Vera-Tucker’s uncertainties on which position he’s best suited for at the next level could see him slip down draft boards a bit. If he’s still available at pick No. 17, the Raiders will surely have a difficult choice to make as his skillset projects well at the next level. However, it undoubtedly will trickle down to how the Raiders view his position versatility. Worst case scenario he’s a really strong guard, who excels in pass protection. However, the Raiders’ largest need consist of finding a replacement at right tackle.
Jaylen Mayfield, Michigan
Mayfield is another prospect who played exclusively at right tackle during his college career, so drafting him would be a relatively smoother transition with no position change involved. A two-year starter at Michigan, Mayfield put his name on the map during his sophomore campaign where he started all 13 games, earning All-Big Ten honors.
Mayfield isn’t the freak talent like some of the offensive tackles in this year’s draft class but he’s fundamentally sound in many aspects. He’s more sufficient as a run-blocker than he is in pass-protection but can still hold his own in each phase of the offense. Mayfield missed all but two games in 2020 to round out his college career, but with him working out at Michigan’s pro day, it appears he’s healthy and ready to go moving forward. Mayfield could be a target for the Raiders if they decide to trade back from the No. 17 selection they currently hold.