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Mock draft gives Raiders needed playmakers on both sides of ball

Updated January 3, 2020 - 9:01 am

The 2020 NFL draft will be on the Strip in 111 days and counting and, even though the entire draft order won’t be determined until after Super Bowl LIV on Feb. 2, draft season is in full swing with the winding down of the college bowl season.

Underclassmen have until Jan. 18 to declare for the draft, but it’s never too early to break down who will go where.

While the Raiders could jump up to select the successor to Derek Carr at quarterback because of their ample draft capital — two first-round picks (12th and 19th) and three third-rounders in the first 90 picks — the timing doesn’t seem right for that. It’s more likely the Raiders attempt to identify a developmental passer in the later rounds and continue to build off the success they found in general manager Mike Mayock’s first draft last year.

The Raiders were in playoff contention until the very last game, but they’ll need playmakers on both sides of the ball to take the next step.

In the first edition of the Review-Journal’s mock draft, we found those players in Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons and Alabama receiver Henry Ruggs III.

Simmons isn’t a perfect fit for the Raiders’ 4-3 scheme — he’s a converted safety who would be a better fit as a 3-4 outside linebacker — but at 6-foot-4, 235 pounds with blazing speed, he’s just a freak athlete and you figure out a way for him to make plays. He won the Butkus Award in 2019 as college’s best linebacker after posting 9.5 sacks, 19 pass breakups, three interceptions and five forced fumbles.

It was just his second year at the position and he’s not close to his ceiling. The Raiders desperately need a weakside linebacker who can cover and make plays, and Simmons fits the bill.

The Raiders obviously lacked a playmaker at receiver after the Antonio Brown circus left town, and Ruggs has that kind of potential. He’s one of the fastest players in college football and is a threat to score on every play from any place on the field. Ruggs averaged a team-high 18.9 yards per catch to rank 24th nationally, with 26 of his 38 receptions going for a Tide first down or touchdown.

A receiver like Ruggs playing alongside tight end Darren Waller and running back Josh Jacobs would give Gruden three dynamic playmakers who would rank among the NFL’s best trios.

Here’s the rest of the Review-Journal’s mock draft (* – denotes underclassman):

1. Cincinnati Bengals

LSU quarterback Joe Burrow (9) works against Oklahoma during the first half of the Peach Bowl N ...
LSU quarterback Joe Burrow (9) works against Oklahoma during the first half of the Peach Bowl NCAA semifinal college football playoff game, Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Amis)

Joe Burrow, QB, LSU

Andy Dalton can easily be released and Ryan Finley obviously isn’t ready. Burrows follows Carson Palmer (2003) as the Bengals’ No. 1 overall picks at QB.

2. Washington Redskins

Ohio State defensive end Chase Young (2) during the first half of the Fiesta Bowl NCAA college ...
Ohio State defensive end Chase Young (2) during the first half of the Fiesta Bowl NCAA college football game against Clemson, Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri).

Chase Young, DE, Ohio State*

This pick would have been different before Ron Rivera was hired, but he’s already hired former Raiders coach Jack Del Rio and Young is a perfect fit for his vanilla 4-3 scheme.

3. Detroit Lions

In this Aug. 31, 2019, file photo, Ohio State defensive back Jeff Okudah plays against Florida ...
In this Aug. 31, 2019, file photo, Ohio State defensive back Jeff Okudah plays against Florida Atlantic in an NCAA college football game, in Columbus, Ohio. Okudah was selected to The Associated Press All-Big Conference team, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete, File)

Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State*

The Lions were terrible on defense down the stretch. so they can use help anywhere, but a lockdown corner is the best way to start.

4. New York Giants

Alabama wide receiver Jerry Jeudy (4) runs after a reception against Michigan during the first ...
Alabama wide receiver Jerry Jeudy (4) runs after a reception against Michigan during the first half of the Citrus Bowl NCAA college football game, Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama*

The coaching hire could swing this, but for now we’ll go with the best player on the board. He’s a true No. 1 receiver.

5. Miami Dolphins

Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (13) carries the ball during the first half of an NCAA colle ...
Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (13) carries the ball during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Citadel, Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Tagovailoa was named to the 2018 AP All-America NCAA college football second-team, Monday, Dec. 10, 2018. (AP Photo/Butch Dill, File)

Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama*

The hip surgery is a big concern — if he turns pro with his announcement Monday — but Ryan Fitzpatrick is the perfect bridge quarterback.

6. Los Angeles Chargers

Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert passes against Wisconsin during first half of the Rose Bowl N ...
Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert passes against Wisconsin during first half of the Rose Bowl NCAA college football game Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020, in Pasadena, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Justin Herbert, QB Oregon

The run on quarterbacks ramps up as Chargers get the heir apparent for Philip Rivers while also leaving a spot open for a bridge veteran (hint: Tom Brady — go get Brady).

7. Carolina Panthers

Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown during the first half of the Outback Bowl NCAA college fo ...
Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown during the first half of the Outback Bowl NCAA college football game against Minnesota Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn

Will depend on who the coach is, but the Panthers might not have Dontari Poe, Gerald McCoy or Vernon Butler by the draft, so it’s time to restock the middle of the line.

8. Arizona Cardinals

FILE - In this Sept. 7, 2019, file photo, Georgia offensive lineman Andrew Thomas (71) is shown ...
FILE - In this Sept. 7, 2019, file photo, Georgia offensive lineman Andrew Thomas (71) is shown in action during the first half of an NCAA college football game against the Murray State, in Athens, Ga. Thomas was selected to The Associated Press All-American team, Monday, Dec. 16, 2019. (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)

Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia*

Both tackles could be free agents and the protection around Kyler Murray needs to be much better.

9. Jacksonville Jaguars

FILE - In this Sept. 14, 2019, file photo, Oklahoma wide receiver CeeDee Lamb celebrates after ...
FILE - In this Sept. 14, 2019, file photo, Oklahoma wide receiver CeeDee Lamb celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the first half of the team's NCAA college football game against UCLA, in Pasadena, Calif. Lamb was selected to The Associated Press All-Big 12 Conference team, Friday, Dec. 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)

CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma*

A big (6-2, 191) receiver with good speed and great yards-after-the-catch ability would be a good fit.

10. Cleveland Browns

In this Sept. 14, 2019, file photo, Iowa offensive lineman Tristan Wirfs plays against Iowa St ...
In this Sept. 14, 2019, file photo, Iowa offensive lineman Tristan Wirfs plays against Iowa State during an NCAA football game, in Ames, Iowa. Wirfs was selected to The Associated Press All-Big Ten Conference team, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. (AP Photo/Justin Hayworth, File)

Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa*

A bit of a reach here, but the Browns’ tackles were awful while the inside is set with J.C. Tretter and Joel Bitonio.

11. New York Jets

Stanford cornerback Paulson Adebo (11) in action against Northwestern during the second half of ...
Stanford cornerback Paulson Adebo (11) in action against Northwestern during the second half of an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019, in Stanford, Calif. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

Paulson Adebo, CB, Stanford*

Long and fast with elite ball skills, Adebo will be a Day 1 starter because he comes out of pro defense with the Cardinal.

12. Raiders

FILE - In this Nov. 30, 2019, file photo, Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons (11) celebrates a s ...
FILE - In this Nov. 30, 2019, file photo, Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons (11) celebrates a stop against South Carolina during an NCAA college football game, in Columbia, S.C. Simmons was selected to The Associated Press All-America team, Monday, Dec. 16, 2019.(AP Photo/Sean Rayford, File)

Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson*

Receiver is definitely tempting here, but the defense, especially a poor linebacker corps, needs serious attention. Simmons is a playmaker.

13. Indianapolis Colts

Clemson wide receiver Tee Higgins (5) runs against Virginia during the first half of the Atlant ...
Clemson wide receiver Tee Higgins (5) runs against Virginia during the first half of the Atlantic Coast Conference championship NCAA college football game in Charlotte, N.C., Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson*

The Colts have spent a lot of draft capital on defense, and they need some weapons. Higgins is a huge (6-4) red-zone target.

14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Florida defensive back CJ Henderson takes up his position during the first half of an NCAA coll ...
Florida defensive back CJ Henderson takes up his position during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Missouri Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019, in Columbia, Mo. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

C.J. Henderson, CB, Florida*

The Bucs have swung — and missed — at more draft cornerbacks than most teams, but they really need the help there.

15. Denver Broncos

FILE - In this Sept. 28, 2019, file photo, Alabama offensive lineman Jedrick Wills Jr. (74) pla ...
FILE - In this Sept. 28, 2019, file photo, Alabama offensive lineman Jedrick Wills Jr. (74) plays against Mississippi during the second half of an NCAA college football game, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Wills was selected to The Associated Press All-Southeastern Conference football team, Monday, Dec. 9, 2019.(AP Photo/Vasha Hunt, File)

Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama

Garrett Bolles, the 2017 first-round pick, is not a starting left tackle and Drew Lock needs blindside protection.

16. Atlanta Falcons

Boise State linebacker Curtis Weaver (99) in the second half of an NCAA college football game F ...
Boise State linebacker Curtis Weaver (99) in the second half of an NCAA college football game Friday, Nov. 29, 2019, in Fort Collins, Colo. Boise State won 31-24. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Curtis Weaver, DE, Boise State*

Both Vic Beasley and Adrian Clayborn are set to be free agents this year, so the Falcons need edge rushing help.

17. Dallas Cowboys

In this Sept. 29, 2018, file photo, LSU safety Grant Delpit (9) celebrates his sack of Mississi ...
In this Sept. 29, 2018, file photo, LSU safety Grant Delpit (9) celebrates his sack of Mississippi quarterback Jordan Ta'amu during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Baton Rouge, La. Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa has been one of the nation's most electric quarterbacks, flinging one touchdown pass after another without a single interception. Delpit and the LSU defensive backs welcome the challenge on Saturday. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)

Grant Delpit, S, LSU*

The Cowboys desperately need a consistent playmaker in the middle of the defense as Jeff Heath gets hurt a lot.

18. Miami Dolphins (via Steelers)

South Carolina defensive lineman Javon Kinlaw (3) warms up before an NCAA college football game ...
South Carolina defensive lineman Javon Kinlaw (3) warms up before an NCAA college football game against Vanderbilt Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019, in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Sean Rayford)

Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina

When you need as much help as Miami, you go with the best player on the board. The 6-6 Kinlaw would fit as a Richard Seymour-type in this Patriots scheme.

19. Raiders (via Bears)

Alabama wide receiver Henry Ruggs III (11) caries the ball against Auburn during an NCAA colleg ...
Alabama wide receiver Henry Ruggs III (11) caries the ball against Auburn during an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019, in Auburn, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama*

His elite speed, crisp route running and toughness in the middle of the field make him the outside weapon the Raiders sought with Antonio Brown.

20. Jacksonville Jaguars (via Rams)

Alabama defensive lineman Raekwon Davis (99) lines up for a play against Auburn during an NCAA ...
Alabama defensive lineman Raekwon Davis (99) lines up for a play against Auburn during an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019, in Auburn, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

Raekwon Davis, DT, Alabama

The Jaguars’ interior run defense is porous. Davis, at 6-6 and 315 pounds, is a freak who can rush the passer and stop the run.

Order to be determined by postseason results:

Philadelphia Eagles

Tennessee Titans

Buffalo Bills

Minnesota Vikings

Miami Dolphins (via Texans)

Seattle Seahawks

New England Patriots

Kansas City Chiefs

Green Bay Packers

New Orleans Saints

San Francisco 49ers

Baltimore Ravens

Greg A. Bedard covers the NFL for the Review-Journal. He can be reached at gbedard@reviewjournal.com. Follow @GregABedard on Twitter.

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