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Jalen Carter at No. 7? Raiders fans have questions

As the focus shifts to next month’s draft, Raiders fans are wondering who the Raiders will target with the seventh pick overall.

Here is a sampling of what arrived in this week’s mailbag:

Carlos (@whitecholo_loco): If Jalen Carter falls to the Raiders at number seven in the draft, do you see them picking him or going corner? What’s a bigger need in your opinion?

VINCENT BONSIGNORE: The Carter situation is multi-layered. On one hand, he is generally regarded as the best football player in this draft and addresses one of the Raiders’ biggest needs: a transformational, disruptive force on defense. Carter represents exactly that.

On the other hand, the off-field concerns are real. And the Raiders — especially the Raiders — have to be aware of that element.

That said, the Raiders need to allow their on-field and off-field evaluation process to guide them to a decision on whether Carter is a risk or not. That is what the next month or so should be devoted to.

Cherokee Raider (@LL45532856): Which non-quarterback are we most likely to draft at seven?

VB: One of the big-time defensive standouts: Tyree Wilson. Jalen Carter. Christian Gonzalez. Devon Witherspoon.

Pat Kiser (@pat_kiser): Are they really expecting to get three to six starters and impact players for the defense in the draft this year? Or should we expect them to have to win in shootouts every week?

VB: It sure feels like they believe they will have access to a high-end defensive starter and a couple of immediate defensive contributors over the first phase of the draft. And their hope is they will uncover young, talented players who can eventually contribute to a winning cause, be it immediately or perhaps into next year or down the road. They hope to lay a foundation by infusing the team and defense in general with youth and explosiveness.

It would be presumptuous, though, to actually think they believe they can come up with six 2023 defensive starters in this draft. And the defensive moves they have made so far — combined with the players they have returning — don’t dictate an immediate need for six new starters.

Remember, there are young players coming back whom they still have high hopes for. And while the defensive additions might not be household names, the Raiders believe they have added a handful of players who are on the verge of playing their best football.

All that said, it will take a couple of drafts before the Raiders build a championship-caliber defense.

Donut Beer (@nms_usa): Please explain what they are doing. I don’t hate all the value moves, but I’m not following. Do they think they can win the division? Or are they just trying to stay good enough to keep the good players happy?

VB: The Raiders, like so many other teams in the NFL, went into the offseason with a clear idea of where they needed to get better to compete at the highest levels of pro football. Also, much like all their colleagues, they have a budget. As a result, there is a balancing act trying to address as many holes and needs through free agency as possible, which obviously costs money, while looking to the draft to build for the future.

Their moves thus far indicate a club that believed it could tinker with the offense in order to create a more efficient and maybe even cost-effective attack. A better-functioning offense can help a defense that is still growing and developing. As for the defense, though, they have added some pieces they believe can contribute as new starters but are absolutely looking to the draft to continue laying the foundation for that side of the ball.

Nevada Born and Raised (@Droll097): Why are the Raiders signing so many wide receivers?

VB: They typically bring 10 wide receivers to training camp, so nothing unusual in the numbers thus far.

Matt Berger (@matt_berger): With Denzel Perryman signing with the Texans, do the Raiders have any interest in Bobby Wagner? Could be a nice veteran presence.

VB: At the right price, for sure. From Wagner’s perspective, though, he probably wants to go somewhere that gives him the best chance to win at a high level.

Contacts Vincent Bonsignore at vbonsignore@reviewjournal.com. Follow @VinnyBonsignore on Twitter.

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