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Raiders get chance to see pass rushers at NFL scouting combine

Updated March 2, 2019 - 8:17 pm

INDIANAPOLIS — Quinnen Williams was interrupted Saturday.

The culprit, someone he neither could see nor hear, originated one block down South Capitol Avenue from the Indiana Convention Center. There, inside Lucas Oil Stadium, former Mississippi wide receiver D.K. Metcalf shocked when clocking 4.33 seconds in the 40-yard dash at his 6-foot-3-inch, 228-pound frame.

News spread on social media.

Reporters, standing in front of Williams during his news conference, widened eyes and exchanged whispers.

The scene served as a reminder of the draft opportunity the Raiders have next month — a premium defensive prospect such as Williams will be available with their first of three first-round picks — but also the chance to double-dip in the top 10 for someone like Metcalf that won’t be.

What is done is done. Playoff seasons from the Chicago Bears and Dallas Cowboys amounted to No. 24 and 27 overall picks. The Raiders have ample resources to build a true foundation. At No. 4 overall, that probably will begin on the defensive line. This position group and linebackers will participate Sunday in on-field drills at the NFL scouting combine.

Williams, a defensive tackle from Alabama, is among the prospects the Raiders will monitor closely.

Many analysts consider Williams, Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa and Kentucky outside linebacker Josh Allen the top three defensive line prospects in the draft, given their combination of college production and physical traits. Bosa and Allen would be ends in Raiders defensive coordinator Paul Guenther’s 4-3 scheme.

“I believe I can step into any organization and help a team out,” said Allen, a former two-star Kentucky commit who played wide receiver in high school until switching to defensive end as a senior. “But for the Oakland Raiders, I feel I can help them out, and they can help me out. I can learn, and I can grow, and I can be the player they want me to be.”

Former Michigan defensive end Rashan Gary is another option at No. 4.

The starting point for the Raiders’ scouting grade is game productivity, where Gary’s production did not match his top-shelf athleticism. This damages his cause. But Sunday’s workout provides Gary a platform to showcase his strengths, convincing a club to select him early with the belief that his best is yet to come.

Gary and defensive tackle Mo Hurst Jr., a 2018 fifth-round pick for the Raiders, were teammates at Michigan.

“Man, if I had the opportunity to be a Raider, I would love it,” said Gary, who privately met with the Raiders on Thursday. “I miss my man Mo. I would love playing with him again.”

Like Williams, former Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver probably would be a defensive tackle for the Raiders.

Some teams view him as an outside or inside linebacker, too, so he is slated to work out Sunday at multiple positions.

Four of the Raiders’ 10 draft picks are slotted in the top 35 selections. No NFL team possesses more 2019 draft capital. So, a moment like the one Saturday, when Metcalf tantalized with his freaky blend of size, strength and vertical speed, must be fleeting.

He won’t be available at No. 24 or No. 27 overall.

Those selections, which stem from trading defensive end Khalil Mack in September and wide receiver Amari Cooper in October, would have been higher had the Bears and Cowboys not proceeded to make the postseason. They aren’t. Barring a trade or major surprise at No. 4, Metcalf will play elsewhere.

No matter.

The Raiders are eager to capitalize on the resources they have.

On April 25, the first day of the three-day draft, that probably will begin at pass rusher.

More Raiders: Follow at reviewjournal.com/Raiders and @NFLinVegas on Twitter.

Contact reporter Michael Gehlken at mgehlken@reviewjournal.com. Follow @GehlkenNFL on Twitter.

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