The 2022 NFL Draft is nearly upon us, and the Las Vegas Raiders have plenty of work to do. Not even the recent acquisition of All-Pro receiver Davante Adams could erase the Silver and Black’s complete list of draft needs.
As of publication, the Raiders were slated to have five total selections in the 2022 NFL Draft, but only one in the first three rounds. Now feels like the perfect time to analyze who the three-time Super Bowl champions could select within the draft’s first five rounds. Although, given that this story covers rounds three through five, it’s technically a three-round draft. Semantics are fun, aren’t they?
For the sake of simplicity, we only used the Raiders’ current draft selections; there are no trades here that have not already happened. We also drafted players based on need and team fit.
Based on consideration of the aforementioned prerequisites, our three-round mock draft looks as follows:
Round 3 (No. 86 overall): Abraham Lucas, OT, Washington State
Barring a shocking trade into the draft’s first two rounds, the Raiders will first take the stage at a time when teams are usually looking for players who might not need to start as a rookie. Enter Lucas, a four-year starter at Washington State who might be best suited to play guard in the NFL. The 6-foot-6, 315-pound lineman has impressive strength and agility — he played tight end on his high school football team and center on the basketball team — but struggled with penalties in college.
Lucas might need a bit of seasoning in the NFL, but he has a high ceiling and is absolutely worth taking in the third round.
Other options: Martin Emerson, CB, Mississippi State; Rasheed Walker, OT, Penn State; Troy Andersen, LB, Montana State
Round 4 (No. 126 overall): Akayleb Evans, CB, Missouri
The Raiders wasted a first-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft on Ohio State cornerback Damon Arnette, who struggled with injuries and immaturity before being cut midway through his second season. Two years later, we’ll allow the Silver and Black to add another cornerback in Evans, who began his college career at Tulsa and ended it at Missouri.
The major knock against Evans is his durability, especially after he missed parts of three seasons with various injuries. However, his versatility in multiple schemes and sets could allow him to stick around as a rotational cornerback. At this stage in the draft, that might be enough to land him in a Raiders uniform.
Other options: Cam Taylor-Britt, CB, Nebraska; John Ridgeway, DL, Arkansas; Max Mitchell, OT, Louisiana (if OT not selected in R3); Terrel Bernard, LB, Baylor
Round 5 (No. 164 overall): Chasen Hines, G, LSU
This is considered an especially deep offensive line class (at least, on paper), and that is excellent news for the Raiders. Although Hines is currently projected to be a Day 3 pick, the 6-foot-3, 327-pound interior lineman has earned rave reviews for his strength and aggressive, mauling tendencies. However, concerns about his weight are expected to drop him into the fifth round.
Although Hines could start his career at guard, don’t be surprised to see him eventually move to center.
Other options: Lecitus Smith, G, Virginia Tech; Matt Waletzko, OT, North Dakota; Sincere McCormick, RB, UTSA; Tyquan Thornton, WR, Baylor; Zakoby McClain, LB, Auburn
Round 5 (No. 165 overall): Tyquan Thornton, WR, Baylor
Barring a trade, the Raiders will have consecutive picks in the fifth round. Despite giving up significant assets for Adams earlier this offseason, there is no reason why the Raiders shouldn’t target Thornton with one of these two selections.
Thornton will bring an excellent combination of size (6-foot-2) and speed (he ran a 4.28 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine) to whichever team drafts him. After battling injuries in 2020, the talented wideout earned second-team All-Big 12 honors with a 62-catch, 948-yard, 10-touchdown campaign to end his Bears career. It would certainly be interesting to see how new Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels uses a bigger and athletic offensive weapon like Thornton.
Other options: Every option for No. 164, plus Hines