The Las Vegas Raiders come into the 2023 NFL Draft with several roster holes to fill on both sides of the ball. They also have the No. 7 pick, which means they could take a big swing and try to find their franchise of the future. With that in mind, here are the three best Raiders NFL draft targets: Anthony Richardson, Christian Gonzalez, and Tyree Wilson.
QB Anthony Richardson, Florida
Hopefully, teams aren’t picking in the top 10 of the NFL draft all that often. For the Raiders, with a loaded roster (especially on offense), it’s somewhat shocking they are picking this high in the 2023 NFL draft after a disappointing 5-12 finish.
Since the Raiders hope to have a much better 2023 season with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo now in the fold, it may make sense for the Raiders NFL draft pick this season to be the QB of the future.
With the draft about a month away, it seems like QBs C.J. Stroud from Ohio State and Bryce Young from Alabama will be the first two off the board. After that, if a QB falls to No. 7, it will be Anthony Richardson from Florida or Will Levis from Kentucky.
If Richardson drops to this point, he would be an excellent selection for the silver and black.
Anthony Richardson is off the charts athletically. He did things at the NFL combine that the league hasn’t seen in 20 years. The issue with the signal-caller is he doesn’t really know how to play quarterback yet. While he had moments of brilliance for the Gators, he was wildly inconsistent.
With Garoppolo starting this season and maybe even next, the Raiders would be one of the teams able to give Richardson time to develop without the pressure of starting and having to win games right away.
While it doesn’t help this season (although Richardson is so athletic that Josh McDaniels could put in some packages for him), Richardson would be the best long-term pick for the organization.
CB Christian Gonzalez, Oregon
Addressing a more immediate need than quarterback, the Raiders could also take a cornerback at No. 7. The first-round cornerback class is deep in the 2023 NFL Draft, and Oregon CB Christian Gonzalez seems like the best of the bunch.
Gonzalez has good size at 6-foot-1, 197 pounds, and put up explosive athletic numbers at the NFL combine. He ran a blazing 4.38-second 40-yard dash and finished with the second-highest vertical jump and fourth-highest broad jump at his position.
The former Oregon Ducks star profiles as a true shutdown CB1 at the NFL level, and that’s smoothing the Raiders desperately need. The team is likely losing starting CB Rock Ya-Sin in free agency, and their best cover man, Nate Hobbs, is best in the slot.
The Raiders’ defense was not good last year at any level, and picking a CB in the 2023 NFL draft who can take away top wide receivers would be huge. Of all the first-round Raiders NFL draft choices at No. 7, Christian Gonzalez is the most plug-and-play for Week 1.
DE Tyree Wilson, Texas Tech
So, the first two Raiders NFL draft options are the best player for the future in Anthony Robinson, or the best player for Week 1 of 2023 in Christian Gonzalez. What’s behind door No. 3 is the best player available on the board, regardless of need or position.
That player could be Texas Tech defensive end Tyree Wilson.
Wilson is a 6-foo-t6, 271-pound pass-rusher who put up 27.5 sacks in his final two seasons with the Red Raiders.
This might seem like an unnecessary pick with Maxx Crosby and Chandler Jones already on the roster, but Wilson is a great prospect and could help the Raiders in the short and long term.
Jones was last offseason’s big free-agent signing for Las Vegas, but he disappointed with just 4.5 sacks last season. He’s also easy to cut after 2023. Wilson could rotate in with Jones or win his spot outright if he comes in hot.
However, the only small downside for Wilson is that he is a little raw, technique-wise. Playing in a rotation next season and learning from Jones and Crosby could be the best thing for his development and put him on track to be the double-digit sack monster that he could be.
While there are bigger holes to fill on the Raiders roster in the 2023 NFL Draft, this is how teams get better. They select the best player available when it is their turn to pick and figure out how to put them in the best position to succeed.