What draft grades have the media given to the Las Vegas Raiders? What are they saying about the Raiders' 2023 draft haul?
NFL.com - Grade: B+
The Raiders needed defensive backs; Bennett's speed and competitiveness fits the bill at corner and Smith always seems to find the ball in big spots. They also had to find a solid backup quarterback and traded up to get an efficient distributor from the pocket in O'Connell. Burney and Silvera provide depth on defense.
ESPN - Grade: B-
The issues I have with edge rusher Tyree Wilson (7) is that cornerback Christian Gonzalez was still available, and Wilson's physical traits didn't always match his production. You can't teach the tools he has -- at 6-foot-6, he has fantastic first-step quickness -- but going in the top 10 means he has to put up double-digit sacks per season.
Michael Mayer (35), the most complete tight end in this draft, was a nice selection at the top of Day 2, but a few other of Ziegler's picks were reaches on my board. I had a fifth-round grade on defensive tackle Byron Young (70) and a sixth-round grade on quarterback Aidan O'Connell (135). Wideout Tre Tucker (100) went a round early. I liked the choice of safety Christopher Smith (170), but his tape is much better than his measurables, and I don't know if he'll ever develop into a starter.
Wilson will start, and Mayer is a ready-made replacement for Darren Waller, but I don't see value with the rest of this class.
SI - Grade: C+
PFF - Grade: B-
Day 2: The Golden Domer's wait is over, as the Raiders trade up to Pick 35 for one of the most polished prospects in the class. Mayer isn't a gifted athlete by any means, but he checks every other box as a receiver and a blocker. He has a high-level football IQ and was the engine of the Notre Dame offense in 2022. Mayer was targeted more than any other tight end in the country this past season and earned an FBS-best 92.5 PFF grade in the process.
Young is a bit of a limited athlete, but he is stout up the middle. He earned an 85.7 run-defense grade over the last two seasons, the seventh-best mark among interior defenders. He also showed improved pass-rush juice in 2022, setting career highs with 15 hurries, nine quarterback hits and four sacks.
Day 3: Tucker produced PFF grades of 70.0 or better in all four of his seasons in college, but this is a lot earlier than he was expected to go off the board. He's a shifty player who forced 31 missed tackles on 113 receptions over the course of his career at Cincinnati.
The Raiders desperately need improvements at outside cornerback, so they land one of the top remaining players at the position in Bennett after a trade-up. Bennett allowed a completion on just 44.4% of targets into his coverage and ran a blazing fast 4.30-second 40-yard dash, which landed him in the 99th percentile.
O'Connell was much better in 2021 than 2022, as his 90.6 grade dropped to a 67.2 mark despite his being set to turn 25 years old before Week 1. The particular concern is O'Connell's ability under pressure — where he earned a 48.0 grade — and his inconsistencies, but the highlight throws are really enticing.
Smith played 400-plus snaps in each of the past three seasons and posted 74.0-plus PFF grades in each of those seasons, too. One of college football's best run-defending safeties in 2022, he posted an 85.9 PFF run-defense grade but did miss 15.1% of the tackles he attempted this past season.
Burney is a sure tackler. He's also shown some flashes as a pass rusher. His struggles in coverage are a real issue, though, and he graded under 60.0 overall in each of the past three seasons.
Neither Silvera's measurables nor grading profile moves the needle much, but both are solid. He graded out in the 58th percentile of qualifying defensive tackles as a run defender in his final and lone season at Arizona State.
Fox Sports - Grade: C+
USA Today - Grade: B-
The Ringer - Grade: B+
Sporting News - Grade: B-
Touchdown Wire - Grade: B+
Add in Christopher Smith II and Nesta Jade Silvera as important pieces in the later round, and it's nice to see the Raiders addressing so many positions of need along a defense that needs to do a lot more than it did in 2022.
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