Before the Raiders ever play a game at Allegiant Stadium, the NFL draft will arrive in Las Vegas.
Two of the top prospects — Ohio State’s Chase Young and Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa — have faced some adversity near the end of the college season, which could have an impact on how things shape up at the top of the draft. Young served a suspension for receiving impermissible financial benefits and Tagovailoa underwent season-ending hip surgery.
But they are still very likely to hear their names called quite early when the event takes April 23-25 at various sites around the city.
The Raiders will celebrate their move to town with two first-round selections.
Here’s an early look at the best available prospects:
1. Chase Young, Edge Rusher, Ohio State: He has powerful hands that help him separate from offensive linemen and the kind of explosion teams covet on the edge. The brief suspension only seems to have provided additional motivation as Young looks more unblockable than ever.
2. Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia: He’s pretty clearly the best prospect at a coveted position. His size and agility ensure he will be a high pick on draft day.
3. Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama: His speed and cutting ability allow him to get open consistently and make him even more dangerous with the ball in his hands. He has a chance to show he can star even without injured quarterback Tua Tagovailoa feeding him the ball.
4. Joe Burrow, QB, LSU: The Ohio State transfer has come from nowhere to emerge as a draft prospect. His spectacular season has him surging up the draft boards. There’s still a possibility he could fall when he’s examined more closely by scouts at the combine. But for now he’s firmly in the top 10.
5. Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama: His injury may not be as big a deal as many may believe, unless he shocks the world and decides to return to school. The bigger questions are still about his arm strength.
6. Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn: A massive presence on the line of scrimmage who returned to school to further refine his technique. He may also benefit from a shallower pool of interior talent on defense.
7. Grant Delpit, Safety, LSU: A big-time hitter who some NFL defensive coordinator will fall in love with despite some questions about his coverage ability.
8. Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State: A steady performer with good size and ball skills on the outside. Does not have a discernible weakness.
9. CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma: His production has been outstanding. But the true excitement about his future shows up on film where he has repeatedly proven his ability to make contested catches.
10. Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama: He has world-class speed and the ability to score every time he gets his hands on the ball.
11. A.J. Epenesa, Edge Rusher, Iowa: He’s very long for the position, though it doesn’t stop him from winning leverage battles on the outside.
12. Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa: It’s possible both Iowa tackles could be selected in the first round. Wirfs’ value may be downgraded because he has played on the right side rather than the more demanding left. But he’s a phenomenal talent with agility that belies his size.
13. Isaiah Simmons, LB/S, Clemson: He’s a safety in a linebacker’s body and has the versatility to play almost anywhere on the field.
14. Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon: He manages to be both steady and spectacular as he continues his development and may be the most ready to start a game in Week 1 of his rookie year.
15. Tyler Biadasz, C, Wisconsin: He’s the best interior offensive line prospect and the leader of one of the best fronts in the nation.
16. Laviska Shenault, WR, Colorado: Injury concerns may be the only question about him. He’s a dynamic playmaker when he’s on the field.
17. D’Andre Swift, RB, Georgia: Could there be multiple running backs taken in the first round? It’s possible with elite talents like Swift, Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor and Clemson’s Travis Etienne.
18. Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU: He allowed just six combined first downs and touchdowns in coverage in all of 2018. Six.
19. Yetur Gross-Matos, Edge Rusher, Penn State: He can get to the quarterback but is also better against the run than some of the other pass rushers in the draft. He’s probably best suited as a base end in a 4-3 defense.
20. Alaric Jackson, OT, Iowa: He makes up for any questions about his agility with perhaps the strongest hands of any tackle prospect in the draft.
21. Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin: Running backs continue to be devalued in the NFL, but there is still an exception for rare talents. Taylor may fit that bill with his speed, vision and power. Defenders continue to be pummeled by his use of the stiff-arm.
22. Bryce Hall, CB, Virginia: Sidelined for the season with an ankle injury, Hall came to college as a receiver, and that still shows up in his ball skills. He led the nation in passes defensed last season.
23. Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina: The massive interior presence has 15 tackles for loss and 10 sacks the last two seasons. Perhaps more impressively, he has seven passes defensed.
24. C.J. Henderson, CB, Florida: He has used his blazing speed to turn two of his six career interceptions into touchdowns. Henderson hasn’t impacted the stat sheet much this year, but much of that has to do with opponents choosing to throw away from him. Last season, he allowed just a 43 percent completion rate and didn’t allow a touchdown while averaging 19.1 snaps per reception against.
25. Trey Adams, OT, Washington: He has prototypical size and may be the most well-rounded of the tackle prospects, though there are durability concerns.