After years of waiting, the NFL Draft has arrived in Vegas. Originally awarded the 2020 NFL Draft way back in 2018, and then rescheduled to 2022 after the COVID-19 pandemic derailed the April 2020 date, the 2022 NFL Draft will kick off tonight at the Caesars Forum on the Las Vegas Strip. The hometown Raiders don’t have a draft pick scheduled until late on Day 2 following the team’s trade for All-Pro WR Davante Adams, but there will be much to keep an eye on in the early rounds.
Cloudy Consensus at the Top
The top of the draft comes with more question marks than many years in recent memory. The Jacksonville Jaguars hold the #1 overall pick, and although Michigan EDGE Aidan Hutchinson sat atop mock drafts for much of the pre-draft process, Georgia EDGE Travon Walker has emerged as the betting favorite to be the first pick of the draft only days before the draft. Who goes #1, and subsequently, how it affects the rest of the Top-10 and the rest of the first round, will be the biggest question answered on draft night.
Fueling the lack of consensus in the draft’s first round is the seemingly lack of momentum that the quarterback class is carrying into draft night. There is a wide range of opinions on the quarterbacks, with some believing that two could go as high as Top-10, and others believing that there are zero quarterbacks in the class with a first-round grade.
All eyes have been on the Panthers selection at #6, speculating if they will be taking a quarterback, with the top options likely being Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett or Liberty’s Malik Willis.
“We’re just keeping all of our options open,” Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer said Tuesday about potentially trading down out of the #6 pick. “It’s definitely something we’re going to look into. But if there’s a good player there at six, we’re just gonna stay there and pick the players.”
Fitterer said there are “maybe three to four” teams that are serious about trading for the #6 pick.
It seems likely that the latest the first quarterback will go off the board will be at pick #20 to the Pittsburgh Steelers, who added QB Mitch Trubisky in the offseason and are facing a future without Ben Roethlisberger. But crazier things have happened, and the possibility exists that there will be no first-round quarterbacks taken in the 2022 NFL Draft in Las Vegas.
Raiders Biggest Needs
The Raiders’ biggest remaining need is likely offensive line as they have very few strong contributors on their roster outside of LT Kolton Miller. The Raiders’ first selection comes at pick 86 in the third round. The Raiders could be targeting an offensive lineman on draft night, or could simply be preparing to take the best player available on their board.
The Raiders currently have five picks in the draft (numbers 86, 126, 164, 165, and 227). Although the Raiders are light on picks, the roster appears to have taken a very big step forward from last season. If the Raiders take advantage of the back end of the draft and add a couple of draft-day steals to the likes of DE Maxx Crosby, WR Hunter Renfrow and CB Nate Hobbs, the Raiders will have every opportunity to compete in for the division, conference, and Super Bowl in 2022.
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