Grading every AFC West team’s offseason after the 2021 NFL Draft

(Photo by Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports) Justin Herbert
(Photo by Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports) Justin Herbert /
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(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) Carl Nassib and Johnathan Abram
(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) Carl Nassib and Johnathan Abram /

Las Vegas Raiders

  • Grade: B+

The recurring theme of the Jon Gruden/Mike Mayock regime at draft time for the Las Vegas Raiders has been filling definite needs. But they’ve been filling these needs with guys who most certainly would’ve been available in 20 or so picks later when they select again in the draft.

This first happened with defensive end Clelin Ferrel at fourth overall two years ago and now Alex Leatherwood with their first-round selection last week.

It’s a tad head-scratching. But hey, at the end of the day, you grab the guy you like while he’s there with no second-guessing.

As far as Leatherwood, specifically, though pretty much every draft pundit expected him to go early on Day 2, no one could question the Alabama pedigree, his specific success, and the need at right tackle for the Raiders. He and Kolton Miller should be a solid tackle tandem in front of Derek Carr.

On the defensive side, Las Vegas did great on Day 2 of the 2021 draft by grabbing the highest-rated safety in reigning Jim Thorpe Winner and former TCU Horned Frog, Trevon Moehrig. He and Johnathan Abram next to him at strong safety should be one of the most dangerous young safety tandems in the league if the thumper Abram can keep his head up and stay healthy.

In addition on the defense, they added a nice disruptor up front in 26-year-old defensive end Yannick Ngakoue. He’s an especially important addition with the aforementioned Pat Mahomes and Justin Herbert looming.

The Raiders also stopped by a division foe’s stomping grounds and grabbed one (look away Bolt fans) Casey Hayward. The once top-flight corner fell off terribly last year in Los Angeles, but he has proven himself long enough through his career to have a possible resurgence in Las Vegas at the age of 31.

The Raiders also happen to be one of the favorites in the Aaron Rodgers sweepstakes. Again, the Broncos are a more viable trade destination, the prospect of Rodgers and “Chucky” Gruden in Las Vegas is quite spicy.

Though the Raiders addressed a couple of big needs in the draft and free agency this year, the talent and depth still isn’t there to be in any serious title contention conversation short term. But this offseason bodes well for the progressing decade-long tenure of Gruden.