NFL Draft 2024: 10 non-QB prospects the Raiders could target in the first round


INDIANAPOLIS — The Las Vegas Raiders may want to draft a quarterback in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft, but there’s no guarantee they’ll be able to do so. While this is considered a strong class of quarterbacks, the most attractive options could be gone by the time the Raiders are on the board at pick No. 13.

General manager Tom Telesco could try to trade up, but that would require finding a team that’s willing to trade down. There’s no guarantee they’d be able to move up to a position where they can draft the quarterback they want. There may still be intriguing quarterbacks on their draft board at 13, but the Raiders won’t force it if there isn’t a player available that Telesco, head coach Antonio Pierce and the rest of the staff are sold on.

“That’s my personality,” Pierce said Wednesday when asked if he would support trading up for a quarterback. “I’m a go-getter. But obviously, that’s got to be a collective agreement.”

If a trade up doesn’t materialize and there are no quarterbacks the Raiders like on the board at No. 13, they’d be better served taking a player at another position of need. Besides quarterback, those primary areas of need are guard, right tackle, defensive tackle and cornerback.

“To be honest, you wish you had more picks,” Pierce said. “At the end of the day, you’ve got to be smart, and Telesco understands that. … That’s also what’s good about free agency. That comes first, so we’ll be able to plug some of those holes.”

The Raiders have about $42.9 million in cap space (according to Over the Cap) and could create more by releasing players, restructuring existing contracts and signing players to extensions. This year, they expect to have to lean on free agency more than usual when it comes to addressing those needs.

“It’s a whole new regime as far as coaches and GMs, and there are some things we need to do to get up and running,” Telesco said Tuesday. “So, we may have to use free agency a little more this year than typically I would like, but it’s going to be part of the process.

“We just have to be very careful in free agency,” he continued. “I know the cap went up this year, which is great, but it doesn’t matter if it’s $255 million or $555 million — it’s the same group of players that are available. Unfortunately, the success rate isn’t that high in football when you change teams as a free agent. Very few of those guys even finish their contracts. You’ve got to be very cautious with it and spend the money wisely.”

Still, the Raiders will have holes that remain when the draft arrives. Here are 10 non-quarterback prospects they could potentially target in the first round.

1. Quinyon Mitchell, CB, Toledo

The Raiders’ starting secondary is largely set. They have Tre’von Moehrig at free safety, Marcus Epps at strong safety, Nate Hobbs at nickelback and Jack Jones at outside cornerback. The other outside corner spot, however, is a question mark. Amik Robertson held that job for most of the season, but he’s set to be an unrestricted free agent. And even if the Raiders bring Robertson back, it will still make sense to add another cornerback to the rotation.

Mitchell has the makings of a day-one starter. He has good size at 6-foot-1, 199 pounds, is an exceptional athlete and has shown he’s adept in both man and zone coverages. He’s a physical player both in run support — he finished his college career with 123 tackles — and pass coverage but has also been able to avoid costly penalties. He was a three-year starter and was named a second-team All-American in both 2022 and 2023. He has elite ball skills, finishing his career with six interceptions and 52 pass breakups, and is consistent on a play-by-play basis. Like most good corners, he lacks nothing when it comes to competitiveness and confidence. Alongside Jones, he could give the Raiders a dynamic playmaking cornerback duo in 2024.

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2. Terrion Arnold, CB, Alabama

Arnold is similar to Mitchell physically at 6-foot, 195 pounds and put many of the same traits on display in a stellar 2023 campaign. In his second season as a starter, he posted 63 tackles, 12 PBUs and five interceptions and was named a first-team All-American. He has a tantalizing combination of speed, athleticism and length. That skill set gives him the ability to recover when he’s beaten, but he still needs to cut down on his tendency to gamble.

The Athletic draft analyst Dane Brugler compared Arnold to Bears cornerback Jaylon Johnson, who was a second-team All-Pro in 2023 and is one of the best young cornerbacks in the league. If he’s still on the board — he’s Brugler’s No. 10 prospect — he’d be an excellent pick for the Raiders.

3. Byron Murphy II, DT, Texas

With Bilal Nichols, John Jenkins and Adam Butler playing contributing roles, defensive tackle was a position of strength for the Raiders in 2023. All of those players are free agents, however, so the Raiders could need help on the interior of the defensive line. They have a few recently drafted in-house defensive tackles in Byron Young, Nesta Jade Silvera and Matthew Butler, but that shouldn’t stop them from potentially adding to the position group.

Murphy stands out as the clear-cut top defensive tackle available in the draft. In his first season as a starter in 2023, he had 29 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss and five sacks. He’s a little undersized at 6-1, 308 pounds, but he makes up for it with his explosiveness off the line of scrimmage, athleticism and use of leverage. His pass-rush potential is the primary draw, but he should be a three-down lineman.

4. JC Latham, OT, Alabama

One of the driving factors behind the Raiders’ offensive struggles in 2023 was the regression of their O-line. It was terrible when it came to run blocking and just OK in pass protection. Starting right tackle Jermaine Eluemunor is set to become a free agent, and Thayer Munford hasn’t shown he can handle a full-time starting role, so it’s easy to see the Raiders targeting that position early in the draft.

In Tuscaloosa, Latham was a two-year starter at right tackle and a second-team All-American in 2023. He’s massive at 6-6, 335 pounds and has the brute strength to match. He’s an anchor in pass protection and a people mover in the run game. He needs to sharpen his technique and fundamentals but should be a starter from the get-go.

5. Amarius Mims, OT, Georgia

Mims is lean on experience. He was mostly a backup until he broke through at right tackle last season. He suffered an ankle injury that required surgery during the season, so he ended up starting just six games. The reason he’s a surefire first-round pick is his anomalous physical traits. He’s enormous at 6-7, 330 pounds. He has impressive length and strength but possesses the foot speed, quickness and athleticism of a much smaller man. This would be a gamble, but Mims’ upside could be worth it.

6. Taliese Fuaga, OT, Oregon State

Fuaga was a two-year starter in Corvallis at right tackle, played his best football in 2023 and was named a first-team All-American. The 6-foot-5, 332-pounder is dominant in the run game, has a mauling style and plays with constant aggression. He sometimes struggles in pass protection against more athletic edge rushers, which could result in some teams slotting him as a guard. Given the Raiders’ needs at both right guard and right tackle, they could find a starting spot for Fuaga either way.

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7. Cooper DeJean, CB, Iowa

DeJean is well built at 6-1, 207 pounds, fast and has special athleticism. He lined up at cornerback, nickelback and safety while also serving as a punt returner at Iowa. He was one of the best and most versatile defenders in the country in 2023 and was named a consensus first-team All-American. He’s adept at making plays on the ball while also rarely finding himself out of position. The Raiders would primarily line him up at cornerback, but his ability to move around the field would come in handy in various defensive packages.

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Iowa defensive back Cooper DeJean is expected to be a first-round pick next month and could be a good fit in Las Vegas. (Jeffrey Becker / USA Today)

8. Tyler Guyton, OT, Oklahoma

Guyton would be another bet on potential. He was a two-year starter at right tackle but only made 14 total starts due to injuries. He has plenty of size and length at 6-7, 328 pounds and is a good athlete, but he’s still raw in terms of his technique and fundamentals. He’ll need time to progress in those areas but could find playing time early in the NFL and become a longtime starter if properly developed.

9. Troy Fautanu, G, Washington

Fautanu was a two-year starter at left tackle in college. He could attempt to stay outside in the NFL but, like with Fuaga, some teams believe he’d be better off at guard. The 6-4, 319-pounder excels both in the run and pass game, is a fluid mover and plays with a ton of physicality. Taking a guard in Round 1 may not be an exciting path for the Raiders, but it’s a real need that could give the offensive line a major lift.

10. Nate Wiggins, CB, Clemson

Wiggins is 6-2, has blazing speed and is a smooth mover. He’s no ballhawk, but he’s sticky in coverage and rarely gives up completions of significance. The downside is he’s only 185 pounds, has a small frame and has been an inconsistent tackler. He needs to fill out physically to maximize his potential, but he has the length, speed and cover skills to be a starting corner for a long time.

(Top photo of Terrion Arnold: Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images)





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