The Las Vegas Raiders 2021 NFL Draft is officially in the books, which means it’s time to make way for the early draft grades. While nobody knows how the Raiders draft class is going to work out long-term, it’s not too early to judge the value of picks and team fit. When the draft concluded, the Raiders made seven total picks, including two trade-ups. Here are the players they drafted:
- 1st Round, Pick 17: Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama
- 2nd Round, Pick 42: Trevon Moehrig, S, TCU
- 3rd Round, Pick 79: Malcolm Koonce, Edge, Buffalo
- 3rd Round, Pick 80: Divine Deablo, LB/S, Virginia Tech
- 5th Round: Pick 143: Tyree Gillespie, S, Missouri
- 5th Round: Pick 167: Nate Hobbs, CB, Illinois
- 6th Round: Pick 230: Jim Morrissey, C, Pitt
Las Vegas Raiders 2021 NFL Draft grade: 6.7/10
2021 Las Vegas Raiders NFL Draft Review: Gus Bradley Goes Shopping
The Best Player: Trevon Moehrig
In the first round, the Raiders elected to draft offensive tackle, Alex Leatherwood. This was a slight surprise in the draft community. However, they hit a home run in the second round of the draft. The Raiders traded up to pick 43 to select TCU safety Trevon Moehrig. Moehrig was the number one safety on most pre-draft boards. He was widely considered to be a first-round talent. The Raiders managed to get him in the middle of the second round. Moehrig is a huge upgrade at the backend of the secondary, that was one of the league’s worst. He should be an impact starter from day one and offer the Raiders an elite young player to build around.
The Head-Scratcher: Divine Deablo
Deablo is a good player and should be able to compete for snaps right away for a defense in need of good players at all levels. However, this is a repetitive pick after drafting hybrid S/LB Tanner Muse out of Clemson last year. This is a head-scratcher, because of the value at pick 80 for this team, not the player himself. Deablo is a good hitter and hopefully will carve out a roll in defensive coordinator Gus Bradley’s defense. Ideally, he drops down as a will linebacker in the NFL and gives Bradley a weapon in the front seven.
The Surprise: No Offensive Skill Players Drafted
With head coach Jon Gruden at the helm, it’s almost expected that the Raiders select an offensive weapon somewhere in the draft. In 2021, the Raiders didn’t, in fact they were only one of three teams to not select a wide receiver. The surprise? That Gruden was able to show enough resistance and allow Gus Bradley the ability to upgrade the defense. This is the first time in ten drafts that Gruden had the final say that a skill player was not drafted. Defense was a priority and the Raiders needed the upgrades there.
The Steal: Tyree Gillepsie
The Raider second trade0up of the weekend proved to be another success. They moved up into the fourth round to select Missouri safety Tyree Gillespie. Gillespi is another versatile piece for the Raiders to work with and had draft grades all the way up to the early third round. Getting productive players with high athletic upside this late in the draft is a win. It was a bit surprising to see the Raiders double-dip at the safety position, however, leading into the draft safety was probably their worst defensive unit. The Raiders were able to fill two spots with high impact in the Gus Bradley defense, a win for them.
The Most Likely to Turn Heads in Training Camp
Even though most had Trevon Moehrig rated very highly pre-draft, I’m not sure if fans realize how good he actually is. He should step right in at training camp and instantly become the Raiders best defensive back. He has a rare blend of size and athleticism that propelled him to the Jim Thorpe Award and it should show right away. Raider fans get ready, you have a legit defensive player of the year award candidate.
The Raiders draft analysis wraps up with players that didn’t quite fit into the categories above. Alex Leatherwood has potential to be a very good pro player. He was drafted slightly early but will step in right away and start at right tackle and actually offers an upgrade in run blocking there for the Raiders. Leatherwood should be a bookend tackle with Kolton Miller for years to come.
Michael Koonce, pick 79 in the draft, offers immense upside. Although he was drafted a bit high to some, he has the bend and athleticism off the edge that gets teams excited. The Raiders needed help on the edge and got an upgrade over former Raider Arden Key to add to the rotation. The final pick of the draft class Jim Morrissey will compete with Nick Martin to be a potential backup center for the Raiders, he will likely start on the practice squad.
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