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Which prospects should Raiders pay attention to at Senior Bowl?

MOBILE, Ala. — The Raiders, with coach Antonio Pierce and general manager Tom Telesco in place, can get to work on their offseason.

One of their big-ticket items is April’s NFL draft. Telesco was involved in that process the past few months when he was still with the Chargers, but now he’ll be tasked with looking at it through a Raiders’ lens.

The NFL calendar provides him and his staff a great opportunity to start getting on the same page. The Senior Bowl, one of the most important draft tools available to teams, begins this week. And for a team with needs at quarterback, the offensive line and defensive line, the setting could not be better for the Raiders to get a handle on what might be available in April.

Here are three players to watch this week at their three positions of need:

Quarterback

Michael Penix Jr.

Washington, 6-3, 213

Two factors work against Penix as a high first-round pick. His age — he will be 24 years old as a rookie — and a history of injuries, including serious ones to both of his knees.

The Senior Bowl represents his first opportunity to prove himself as a draft prospect. He has a chance to end up as the fourth-best quarterback in the draft, behind USC’s Caleb Williams, North Carolina’s Drake Maye and LSU’s Jayden Daniels.

Penix fits a lot of what the Raiders are looking for in a quarterback. He has the arm talent to make every throw, the nerve to push the ball down the field and enough athletic ability to make plays with his legs. It’s how Penix led the Huskies to a Pac-12 championship at Allegiant Stadium on Dec. 1.

He can make his case to be the 13th overall pick this week in a new system against some of the best defensive players in the draft. But his injury history will still make his medical evaluation important.

Bo Nix

Oregon, 6-2, 217

It feels like Nix may be getting slept on a bit because he threw so many short passes in Oregon’s system.

Like Penix, he has a real opportunity to improve his stock this week. It may be a perception issue for Nix as much as it is a talent one.

The 23-year-old is an accurate passer with incredible athletic ability. He can make plays with his legs while being super efficient through the air.

Nix will help himself immensely if those traits translate at the Senior Bowl.

Spencer Rattler

South Carolina, 6-1, 217

Rattler was a 5-star recruit and the top-ranked quarterback in his class in 2019. He was beat out by Williams at Oklahoma and then had a fine career after transferring to South Carolina.

Rattler has the skills to play on Sundays. The 23-year-old isn’t likely to crack the first round, but he could be a sleeper later on if the Raiders strike out on some prospects ahead of him.

Offensive line

Taliese Fuaga

Oregon State, 6-6, 334

Fuaga is a lock to be drafted in the first round. It’s just a matter of at which point he comes off the board.

Fuaga is a dominant run blocker with excellent footwork and hand usage. He could be an option for the Raiders at No. 13 depending on when the other top tackles get drafted.

Troy Fautanu

Washington, 6-4, 317

The former Liberty High standout is being mocked as a first-round pick.

Fautanu, who has great footwork, is a polished pass protector who is improving as a run blocker. He could start as a rookie given his quickness out of his stance.

Tyler Guyton

Oklahoma, 6-7, 329

Guyton, for good reason, is expected to be selected in the first round.

He’s a physical marvel who, despite his size, is as athletic as any offensive lineman in the draft. That combined with his technical skills and footwork make him an ideal pass blocker. He’s powerful as a run blocker as well.

This is a great draft for offensive tackles, so there are other players ahead of Guyton in the pecking order right now. But he can make up some ground this week.

Defensive line

Laiatu Latu

UCLA, 6-5, 265

The Raiders could do far worse than Latu if they don’t select a quarterback or offensive lineman with their first pick.

He’s a dominant pass rusher who could be a perfect complement to Maxx Crosby. Latu has an impressive motor with impressive skills.

He could solidify himself as the top pass rusher in the draft at the Senior Bowl.

Byron Murphy

Texas, 6-1, 308

Murphy is one of the best interior defenders in this year’s draft and a fast-rising prospect.

He could give the Raiders the kind of inside presence they’ve lacked for years. Murphy doesn’t have ideal size for the position, but he could show that doesn’t matter with a strong week of practice.

Chris Braswell

Alabama, 6-3, 255

Braswell is a little bit of a tweener.

He can play out of a stance and with his hand in the ground. He’s got a great motor and could provide value as a second- or third-round pick.

This week is his chance to show he deserves to be picked even higher than that.

Contact Vincent Bonsignore at vbonsignore@reviewjournal.com. Follow @VinnyBonsignore on X

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