And just like that, the three-day, seven-round, 2021 NFL draft has come and gone. In all, there were 657 draft-eligible players and of those, only 259 players were drafted. So how and what did Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock do to rebuild the Las Vegas Raiders? Did they address needs at right tackle, safety and re-stock the entire defensive side of the ball? Did they reach and draft in desperation? Or did they let their draft board flow and come to them? Let’s get to it and see if we can answer all those questions.
Las Vegas Raiders Draft Recap 2021: Day One
1.17 | Alex Leatherwood | LT | Alabama
The Las Vegas Raiders traded right tackle Trent Brown to the New England Patriots for a 2022 fifth round pick opening a huge whole on the right side of the offensive line. Luckily for the Raiders, this draft class offered plenty of first round talent at the tackle position. Available at the 17th pick in the first round were Christian Darrisaw of Virginia Tech and Teven Jenkins from Oklahoma State. However, in true Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock fashion, the Raiders reached for a tackle, who by most draft evaluators had a second-round grade in Alex Leatherwood.
The 6’6”, 310-pound lineman has experience playing both at guard and tackle but per Mike Mayock, will start at right tackle on day one. Leatherwood possesses great size, power, and mobility in the run game but struggles against quicker, more explosive pass rushers in the passing game. Leatherwood will have to be coached up by offensive line coach Tom Cable on how to fully utilize his length and long arms against those explosive pass rushers in the NFL.
Las Vegas Raiders Draft Recap 2021: Day Two
2.43 | Trevon Moehrig | S | TCU
As mediocre as the first pick was, the Raiders’ second pick in the draft was the complete opposite. Sitting at pick 48 in the second round, the Raiders witnessed safety Jevon Holland be drafted at pick 36 to the Miami Dolphins and safety Richie Grant get drafted at pick 40 to the Atlanta Falcons, leaving Trevon Moehrig as the top safety left on the board. The Raiders knew they had to move up and did to pick 43 with a trade with the San Francisco 49ers.
Listed at 6’2” and 210 pounds, Moehrig is the classic deep centerfield safety the Raiders have been looking for to pair with their other safety, Johnathan Abram. The 2020 Jim Thorpe award winner given to the nation’s best defensive back, Moehrig possesses great instincts, range, and playmaking ability necessary to play in today’s NFL. Great trade by the Raiders and a great pick.
3.79 | Malcolm Koonce | LB | Buffalo
A surprise pick in round three, Malcolm Koonce is a lean edge rusher who excels with an explosive get-off, long arms, and a non-stop motor. Listed at 6’3” and weighing 250 pounds, Koonce has been compared to Melvin Ingram, who played the “Leo” position in Gus Bradley’s defense. In the 2020 season, Malcolm Koonce had five sacks, 6.5 tackles for loss, and three forced fumbles in only six games. It will be interesting to see how Koonce develops and gains playing time with so many defensive linemen on the roster for the Las Vegas Raiders. Defensive end Ronnie Perkins, defensive tackle Daviyon Nixon and WR’s Amari Rogers, and D’Wayne Eskridge were all available at this pick. For Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock, another reach.
3.80 | Divine Deablo | S | Virginia Tech
With their second pick of the third round, the Raiders drafted safety Divine Deablo from Virginia Tech to play the “Kam Chancellor” role in Gus Bradley’s defense. Deablo will be switched to linebacker in the new Raiders’ defense but possesses the ideal size, speed, and length to play either safety or linebacker. Listed at 6’3” and 226 pounds, expect to be seeing Deablo covering tight ends down the field and running backs out into the flat. Per Mike Mayock, Divine Deablo will be switching to the “Will” linebacker position for the Raiders, remember Tanner Muse, how did that turn out? Another reach.
Las Vegas Raiders Draft recap 2021: Day Three
4.143 | Tyree Gillespie | S | Missouri
Look out Johnathan Abram, the Raiders may have just drafted your replacement. At the very least, Tyree Gillespie adds added insurance should Abram go down with another injury or continue to make the same mistakes in the passing game. Gillespie is known for his high football IQ, physicality, and toughness in the run game. The Raiders traded up into the fourth round to pick 143 with the Jets for Gillespie. Listed at 6’ and 210 pounds while running a 4.39 40, look for Gillespie to be a special team’s demon early and earning playing time on defense. Gillespie is a fast, physical safety who can play the single high safety position or down in the box as an extra run defender.
5.167 | Nate Hobbs | CB | Illinois
Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock continue to add to the defensive side of the ball, especially in the secondary. Nate Hobbs displays an impressive combination of size, speed, and athleticism defensive coordinators covet. Listed at 6’ and 195 pounds, Hobbs has the size and length to match up with bigger receivers in man press coverage and the quickness, recognition, and instincts to play cover 3, Gus Bradley’s preferred defensive scheme. Hobbs also offers punt and kickoff return abilities with his explosiveness and speed. The Raiders continue to get faster and more athletic on defense with the addition of Hobbs.
7.230 | Jimmy Morrissey | C | Pittsburgh
Jimmy Morrissey was the recipient of the 2020 Burlsworth Trophy presented to the most outstanding player in college football who began his collegiate career as a walk-on. What Morrissey provides to the Raiders, especially in the seventh round of the draft is toughness, determination, perseverance, and a never-die attitude. Jimmy Morrissey also provides much-needed depth along the offensive line. Morrissey played almost exclusively at the center position in college but has the smarts and versatility to also play guard in the NFL.
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