Sunday, April 30, 2023

Las Vegas Raiders 2023 NFL Draft Grades Roundup

The 2023 NFL Draft is now in the rearview mirror, and we have compiled a consensus ranking using NFL draft grades from a variety of sites.

What draft grades have the media given to the Las Vegas Raiders? What are they saying about the Raiders' 2023 draft haul?

MORE: 2023 NFL Strength of Schedule - Grade: B+

Selecting Wilson to play across from Maxx Crosby was prudent. Mayer is the draft's best tight end, so trading up for him made sense. Young will be part of the line rotation this year and Tucker (selected with the pick gained from the Giants for Darren Waller) will excel in the slot, though both were picked a round earlier than anticipated.

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 Raiders had a rough 2022 season, the first under new coach Josh McDaniels and general manager Dave Ziegler. Longtime starting quarterback Derek Carr is out, and Jimmy Garoppolo is in. And while there were lots of rumblings they could try to trade up into the top four for a passer, that didn't happen. Instead, Las Vegas -- which entered this draft with 12 total picks, tied for most in the league -- went straight to filling needs for a veteran roster that is built more for the short term than it is set up for long-term success.

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+

The Raiders nailed the first two picks of their class, getting excellent value in both Wilson and Mayer. Wilson should form an incredible duo with Max Crosby off the edge, while Mayer is a long-term replacement for Darren Waller at an excellent value. However, Las Vegas desperately needs to fix its lack of corner talent and didn't address the need until the third day. The Raiders also took a backup quarterback in the fourth round despite some defenders being available who could have competed for snaps early on. It's a solid class, but the Raiders left some questions behind.

PFF - Grade: B-

Day 1: Wilson looks like he was built in a pass-rushing lab, so it's not a shock to see him go in the top 10. That said, he ranked just 28th on the PFF big board because the consistency just wasn't there in college. His 75.1 PFF grade last season was the highest of his career.

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+

It's hard to argue with edge rusher Tyree Wilson at 7, except that the Raiders still don't have the young QB Josh McDaniels wants to build around. They could've used help on the O-line and at CB, too. Instead, they traded a fifth-round pick to move up in Round 2 for TE Michael Mayer. He may be the best TE in the draft, but he's also somewhat redundant after they signed Austin Hooper and O.J. Howard in free agency. And their two third-rounders (DT Byron Young, WR Tre Tucker) were over-drafted depth players based on most analysts' assessment.

USA Today - Grade: B-

First-round DE Tyree Wilson, second-round TE Michael Mayer and third-round DT Byron Young could all be impact starters as rookies for a roster that seems to have fewer gaping holes than it did a week ago.

The Ringer - Grade: B+

I liked what the Raiders did on the first two days of the draft, grabbing an immediate impact player in Texas Tech edge rusher Tyree Wilson in the first round before adding another player who projects as an early starter in Round 2 in Notre Dame tight end Michael Mayer. Both players add toughness and physicality to their respective sides of the ball, and both should have little trouble hitting the ground running early on. Cincinnati receiver Tre Tucker was an intriguing pick in Round 3; he's a guy who caught my eye at the Senior Bowl and now gives the Raiders an explosive downfield pass-catcher to complement Davante Adams. Purdue quarterback Aiden O'Connel is a smart pick in the fourth round, too, and now head coach Josh McDaniels has a developmental backup to Jimmy Garoppolo.

Sporting News - Grade: B-

Wilson and Mayer gave the Raiders two first-round talents at positions of need. Young can also be an absolute starting stud to upgrade a significant weakness. Dave Ziegler then went for some odd depth and reach picks, before coming back to get another potential key defensive impact player in Smith.

Touchdown Wire - Grade: B+

The Raiders needed a bad-ass bookend for Maxx Crosby, and they certainly filled that with Tyree Wilson. The Texas Tech pass-rusher is still a bit raw, but he's also an athletic freak, and he should be able to help Patrick Graham's fronts outside and inside sooner than later. Michael Mayer was considered to be the "safe" pick at his position, but he's got a full skill set, he led all tight ends in his class last season with eight catches of 20 or more air yards, and he'll start Day 1. Byron Young is that rarest entity — an underrated player from Alabama — and Graham can deploy him inside and outside in different ways than Wilson. I also like the Jakorian Bennett pick — like Maryland teammate Deonte Banks, he's an aggressive press cornerback who can win at the line of scrimmage.

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.

More: 2023 NFL Draft Grade Roundups

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