Five years ago, the Raiders found future Hall of Famer Khalil Mack with the fifth overall pick in the draft. This time around, the Raiders have earned the fourth pick in round one — and the pressure to find another Mack has increased, given that they traded him to the Bears in September.
There’s a belief in some circles that, if quarterback Kyler Murray is available at pick No. 4, the Raiders will be tempted to take him. But the far more urgent need, especially in light of the team’s placement in the same division as quarterback Patrick Mahomes, is the defense.
The players to watch at No. 4 include Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams, Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver, Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa, and Clemson defensive end Clelin Ferrell. One or more of those players likely will be gone by the time Oakland picks, but at least one will still be available when Oakland is on the clock.
Of course, if only one of those four is left when Oakland selects, that means Murray also will be there. Which could prompt the Raiders to choose a fight-fire-with-fire approach to Mahomes over loading up the defense in an effort to slow down the Chiefs’ offense.
Whatever the Raiders do at No. 4, they’ll need an impact player who makes fans and media forget about Mack. If the Raiders aren’t convinced that they’ll get one, another option would be to trade back, compile more tickets in the annual Hall of Famer lottery, and commit to the notion that, if they scratch off another winner, they’ll actually keep him around this time.