It’s already been quite the week in the NFL as the question “who the hell is Nick Mullens?” was answered as “the guy that dismantled the 100 million dollar man’s Oakland Raiders.”
In a league full of parity, sometimes you need to hit rock bottom to climb back up to the top. While it seems terrible right now Raiders fans, potentially beginning a full scale rebuild with a number one overall pick is promising.
While the decision would be easy if things fell that way, we must explore all options. I’ll dive into five of the best prospects for the Silver and Black, while also revealing the latest buzz I’m hearing around the league. Let’s dive in.
Five for the Oakland Raiders
As teams begin to fade entirely out of being competitive and towards the offseason, I’ll take a look at five prospects that make sense for them in round one of next year’s draft.
While Jon Gruden is certainly here to stay, he’ll need some franchise players to join him. Here are five I’d keep an eye on that make a ton of sense for Oakland in next year’s draft.
1) Nick Bosa, EDGE, Ohio State
If you’re going to be bad in the NFL, it pays to be the worst. Fortunately for Raiders fans, things are beginning to trend that way. The team didn’t just lose to a fringe roster player at quarterback, they were destroyed by one (with a big hat tip to Kyle Shanahan of course).
Enter Nick Bosa, the premier player in this upcoming draft. It’s hard to ‘replace’ Khalil Mack, but if anyone has a shot at doing that it’s the former Buckeyes superstar.
He’s a terror off the edge getting after quarterbacks that is also disciplined and explosive defending the run. You won’t find many teams that wouldn’t make this pick selecting first overall, it’s that simple.
2) Ed Oliver, DL, Houston
The Raiders are bad, but what if they aren’t the worst team in the NFL? There will be consolation prizes when failing to land Nick Bosa and to be honest, they are pretty good options.
— Connor Rogers (@ConnorJRogers) September 4, 2018
One of those options is Ed Oliver, a freakishly talented interior rusher from Houston. He has an Aaron Donald type ceiling and could give Oakland the type of pass rush presence they need.
3) Quinnen Williams, DL, Alabama
If this article was written a few months ago, Williams wouldn’t even be on the radar. Fast forward and the first year starter has been unblockable up front for the Crimson Tide.
Quinnen Williams, destroyer of the pocket pic.twitter.com/8lAPgJnpA4
— Connor Rogers (@ConnorJRogers) October 31, 2018
With violent hands and a tremendous build for the trenches, Williams has been one of the best disruptors in the nation this year. He’s quickly put himself in the top five conversation and could climb from there.
4) Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
Let me be clear here: I don’t think Justin Herbert is the right quarterback for Oakland, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be on their radar.
Unfortunately Derek Carr has not looked like the same high caliber starter he once was recently. He might simply need a change of scenery, he might have declined faster than any young quarterback we’ve seen in quite some time.
Either way Jon Gruden is in control and he’s going to be looking for a talented signal caller that’s his guy. Herbert checks all of the boxes from a talent standpoint: strong arm, upper tier athleticism and a frame that old school coaches will prefer.
He’s got a long ways to go in terms of handling pressure and working through reads, but don’t rule him out as an option for Oakland if they find a way to win their way out of the top two selections.
5) Jachai Polite, EDGE, Florida
I’m banging the ‘get a pass rusher’ drum a little too hard here, but it’s not that crazy.
Much like Quinnen Williams, it’s been a special year for Jachai Polite and his draft stock. After slimming down to around 240-245 pounds, he’s wreaking havoc off the edge.
Florida EDGE Jachai Polite has 4 sacks in his last 3 games – explosive non-stop pass rush threat that can bend. He's something serious: pic.twitter.com/gdlLEWukcV
— Connor Rogers (@ConnorJRogers) October 2, 2018
With the ability to bend, dip and turn the corner into the pocket, his pass rush ceiling is through the roof. While he’s not a complete run defender yet like Bosa, he’s a prospect worth gambling on due to upside.
His climb has been understated so far but after what is expected to be a huge NFL Combine performance, he can easily find himself in top five range.
NFL Buzz: The Failure To Accept Rebuilding
The NFL trade deadline is officially over and while there was plenty of action, it was the lack thereof that is eye opening. With the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Arizona Cardinals failing to sell this year, there is a similar feeling with both regimes praying for a second half miracle.
Let’s start with the 2-6 Cardinals, who did not move a 28 year old Patrick Peterson or 28 year old Chandler Jones at the deadline. Each player, who easily are in the conversation for being near the top of their position group, held significant value.
This was a chance for Arizona to stockpile premium selections (1st and 2nd round picks) and begin to build a window for 2020 and beyond to compete.
Break it down like this: does anyone see this team challenging the Rams in the next two years, both of those being the last ‘prime’ years for Peterson and Jones?
Things were not very different for the Tampa Bay Bucs. While they didn’t have a star like Peterson or Jones to unload, teams made offers for wide receiver Desean Jackson.
It’s time to admit Jameis Winston was a miss for this regime. That kind of mistake will always set a team and their plan back by quite a bit. Will general manager Jason Licht get the chance to correct that mistake this offseason?
The feeling around both franchises is that it’s going to be tough for these regimes to survive in the long-term. Neither began a rebuild at the deadline with the hopes of saving their jobs.
In the end, that will cost both teams down the road, much like it has for the New York Giants.
Even with little help, Josh Rosen gives the Cardinals front office a glimmer of hope. As for the Bucs? The hour glass is certainly looking empty.