Raiders grab star defender in latest Mel Kiper Jr. mock draft

Raiders grab star defender in latest Mel Kiper Jr. mock draft

The on-field testing drills will begin at the NFL Combine on Thursday, and that will give us a chance to see the nation’s top prospects in action. Mock drafts usually don’t hold a lot of weight until after the combine, but there is one player who is starting to become a consensus pick for the Raiders in the first round.

In a recent mock draft by the great Mel Kiper Jr. of ESPN, he had the Raiders selecting Texas DT Byron Murphy at No. 13. Here is a snippet of why he believes that would be an excellent pick for Las Vegas in Round 1:

Murphy has the highest pass-rush upside of any of the interior defensive linemen in this class. He had five sacks and 33 pressures last season, a huge improvement over his 2022 season (1 sack, 14 pressures).

At 308 pounds, he could play as the Raiders’ 3-technique tackle, wreaking havoc in both the run and pass games. Maxx Crosby had 14.5 sacks last season, but No. 7 overall pick Tyree Wilson disappointed as a rookie, putting up just 3.5. With Murphy on the interior, Crosby and Wilson could get more space to get after quarterbacks off the edge.

Murphy has received a lot of buzz over the last few weeks and is expected to test incredibly well at the NFL Combine. He should run a sub 4.90 40-yard dash and post incredible numbers in the vertical. Murphy is drawing comparisons to Ed Oliver and Geno Atkins, both of whom were undersized defensive tackles with a ton of pass-rushing upside.

Getting a quarterback is and will be priority No. 1 for the Raiders for the foreseeable future. But if they are unable to trade up in Round 1, Murphy is a pretty solid backup plan.

 

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