The 2021 NFL Draft is under two weeks away and mock drafts have been in full effect. As the Raiders still remain with a handful of positional needs, this mock draft will aim to fulfill holes on the roster while securing adequate value.
Building through the NFL Draft is always an intricate part of laying the foundation for a team’s future. While the NFL Draft always includes several unknowns at the time of each selection, if a team hits on multiple picks it can change the entire trajectory of the franchise. This Las Vegas Raiders 2021 NFL mock draft will focus on areas of need while also selecting the best player available at the time of each selection.
Last season, the Raiders came away with two starters: wide receiver Henry Ruggs and cornerback Damon Arnette. Meanwhile, in 2019, the Raiders found great value in the mid to late rounds, selecting defensive end Maxx Crosby and wide receiver Hunter Renfrow on the final day of the NFL Draft.
For the purpose of this mock draft, I’ll be using Pro Football Network’s mock draft simulator to make each selection. In an effort to make this as realistic as possible but also obtain proper value, the simulator helps keep things in context. No trades will be involved.
Round 1, Pick 17: OT Teven Jenkins — Oklahoma State
Every year around this time, NFL teams preach they draft for value over need, but oftentimes their actions speak otherwise. Specifically the history of the Raiders. Teven Jenkins isn’t a reach by my account but odds are there will still be other prospects who hold a higher draft stock.
Regardless, the selection of Jenkins provides the Raiders with a starting right tackle of the future. Many of the top offensive tackles in the 2021 NFL Draft leave the college ranks after serving as a left tackle at their respective school. Jenkins, however, did not. He is a true right tackle that won’t have to undergo a position change entering the NFL if the Raiders settle on him in the first round.
Jenkins didn’t allow a sack over his final two seasons at Oklahoma State. His resumé on the field, combined with his measurables from his pro day, indicate Jenkins is a bonafide starting right tackle for years to come. Listed at 6-5, 315 pounds and ran a 4.99 40-yard dash while also throwing up 36 reps on the bench press, Jenkins is the proper mold for what the Raiders need opposite of Kolton Miller, protecting the right side of the offensive line.
Round 2, Pick 48: CB Asante Samuel Jr. — Florida State
After the Lamarcus Joyner experiment at nickelback went unpleasant for his two seasons with the club, the Raiders still haven’t found a long-term replacement since parting ways with the veteran. Las Vegas has Nevin Lawson and Amik Robertson as options. However, Lawson is due to serve a suspension at the start of the season and Robertson still appears to need time before being thrown to the wolves in a starting role.
The selection of Asante Samuel Jr. immediately bolsters the vacancy at nickel corner. The son of a former all pro cornerback, his bloodlines remain strong in the secondary. Samuel enters the league with an undersized build but his man coverage was outstanding at Florida State. With loose hips, a sure tackler and quick feet, Samuel looks to have a bright future as a longtime defender who can make his mark covering opposing team’s slot receivers.
Samuel finished his final season in college with three interceptions, 22 tackles, six pass breakups and one forced fumble over eight games for the Seminoles. As the Raiders possess a current hole at nickel corner, Samuel would slot right into that position without having to make a positional change from the outside as did Robertson last year with the Raiders.
Round 3, Pick 79: S Jevon Holland — Oregon
The safety production in which the Raiders received last season was quite troublesome. Jonathan Abram had moments of looking like the former first round pick he is, but he always had lumps in the road as well. This offseason the Raiders are in need of a free safety who can take on the responsibilities in coverage while Abram can play closer to the line of scrimmage.
Jevon Holland is a player who can serve the role of playing single-high safety while also being able to match up in man coverage against big body pass-catchers. Holland also spent time in the slot for the Oregon defense, displaying proper body control and good ball skills on contested passes.
Holland opted out of the 2020 season, but that doesn’t undermine the skill set that he can bring to an NFL defense as a rookie. In his two seasons at Oregon, Holland registered nine interceptions, leading the PAC-12 in 2019 with four on the season. Holland is a quality day two option that brings starting upside in a position the Raiders remain vulnerable at.
Round 3, Pick 80: LB Dylan Moses — Alabama
The Raiders invested a bulk of their available cap space last offseason to sure up the linebacker unit, signing Cory Littleton and Nick Kwiatkoski. The linebacker play of the Raiders did show an improvement, but it still didn’t reach a level in which the team should be content. Littleton had a rough start to the season while Kwiatkoski was serviceable but not a game-changer either. Nicholas Morrow, the team’s third linebacker on the depth chart, finished the season as their best player at the position.
Alabama’s Dylan Moses was once regarded as a late first round pick during the early stages of his college career. After suffering a torn ACL just before his junior year and a downtick in production throughout his senior campaign, Moses has fallen down draft boards. He’s still a quality player, but presumably not to the extent that his projection may have led onto after his sophomore season.
Moses is stout against the run with his superb tackling efforts. However, his main flaw remains his liability in coverage, which is the reason he’s now seen as a mid-round pick. To round out his final season at Alabama, Moses totaled 76 tackles, one sack, three pass breakups and one forced fumble.
Round 4, Pick 121: DT Bobby Brown — Texas A&M
After nearly no pass rush from the defensive tackle position last season, the Raiders added a flurry of options who can line up from the interior. While none of the recent signees were touted as any of the top free agent options at the position, they do have more depth than they’ve had in recent years.
Texas A&M’s Bobby Brown is a gigantic defender who stops the run effectively. With his big frame, Brown can anchor the middle of the defensive line, clogging running holes. He’s also shown improvements in his get-off, exhibiting disruptive tendencies in getting after opposing quarterbacks.
Brown’s last season with the Aggies, he registered a career-high 5.5 sacks with 22 tackles and 7.5 TFL’s. Brown took big steps as a junior, showing upside as a pass rusher. He’ll likely be an early target on the final day of the 2021 NFL Draft.
Round 5, Pick 162: EDGE Shaka Toney — Penn State
The Raiders already have a steady dose of options along the edge, but this is a position you can never have enough of. While adding Yannick Ngakoue to pair with Clelin Ferrell and Crosby pose an intriguing trio, the Raiders’ pass rush has been so bare in recent seasons, it would be wise to add another player to the rotation.
Penn State’s Shaka Toney was a productive player during his time in the Big Ten, totaling five or more sacks in three of his four seasons. Toney projects as a rotational pass rusher whose calling card is his quick get-off and high motor.
Toney wouldn’t be asked necessarily to play a prominent role on the Raiders as a rookie. However, Las Vegas could use additional depth alongside Carl Nassib as they back up the team’s starting options.
Round 5, Pick 167: RB Chuba Hubbard — Oklahoma State
Running back isn’t an area the Raiders are lacking with Josh Jacobs and Kenyan Drake on the roster. However, looking at a variety of ways the team can save additional cap space, a potential release of third-string running back Jalen Richard would save the club a little more than three million.
Oklahoma State’s Chuba Hubbard went on to have a prolific career for the Cowboys, being their No. 1 backfield option. Hubbard’s a patient runner whose one cut, acceleration propelled him for a 2,000-plus yard season in 2019. His main flaw comes in the form of catching passes as he doesn’t possess the most reliable hands. From a blocking standpoint, Hubbard isn’t as physical in that regard as he can be when the ball is in his hands.
For a player that’s been so successful in college, the reason he’ll likely find himself as a day three selection stems from his lack of ability in the passing game. Hubbard can offer contributions in a backfield by committee as the second or third option.
Round 6, Pick 200: OG Robert Hainsey — Notre Dame
The Raiders retooled their offensive line this offseason, creating a much younger and unexperienced group slated to protect quarterback Derek Carr. While the Raiders have said publicly they are excited about the youth of their new group, it does pose some uncertainties about how well they will fare over the course of a full season.
Notre Dame’s Robert Hainsey projects as a backup offensive guard who also comes with experience at offensive tackle. Hainsey brings three years of starting experience with him into the NFL, and a frame that contains a physical stature with a top-heavy build. He’s most effective in the run game, whereas his pass blocking remains a work in progress.
Hainsey is a late round option that offers versatility at multiple positions. A Notre Dame team captain, Hainsey was held to a high regard among an offensive line unit that was one of the best in the country.