While Southern California defensive lineman Leonard Williams steals headlines, others could go in the top 16 that not a whole lot of people know much about.
And most fans should. Without adieu, some names every Raiders fan should know on draft day:
Randy Gregory, DE/OLB, Nebraska
Gregory is arguably the best edge rusher in the draft — the only other in the conversation being Bud Dupree. He has running back speed and defensive tackle power, all this in a six-foot-five, 235 pound frame.
He’s also the only guy in the conversation as the draft’s best overall player, short of Leonard Williams. Both are game changers, but play different positions. Gregory ran a 4.64 second 40-yard-dash at the combine and threw up 24 bench reps.
He dominated in the run and pass game at Nebraska, despite being double-teamed constantly. His game versus Rutgers in 2014 was hands-down his best, and show off his upside against lower-level NFL tackles. But it doesn’t end there.
Against Miami, and soon to be first round pick Ereck Flowers, his dominance helped the Huskers win a game that they had no reason to be in. That win, and most of Nebraska’s wins in 2014, are because of Gregory.
The one red flag is a failed drug test at the combine. Some teams likely removed him from their draft boards entirely. Whomever takes Gregory will receive him at a substantial discount — he was believed to be a top-10 pick in February — similar to Justin Houston.
Houston was taken in the third round of the 2011 draft after failing a drug test for marijuana, and has been one of the best and most upstanding players in the league since. The downside is Josh Gordon-like, though Gordon had other red flags.
Bud Dupree, DE/OLB, Kentucky
There’s no questioning Dupree’s athleticism. He’s probably the best pure athlete in the draft, but his skills as a football player need work. He doesn’t punch, rip or spin off the line, and relies heavily on speed and power.
But that’s what you pay coaches for.
Dupree will be dominated at the NFL level until he learns how to play the edge properly. But once he does, game over. You have one of the game’s elite edge rushers, who has the speed and agility to be a force against the run as well.
Dupree ran a 4.56 second 40-yard-dash at the combine, along with a 42 inch vertical. What’s most amazing, his 10-yard-split on his 40 time was faster than Amari Cooper and Kevin White, the two top receivers in the draft.
All this comes on a six-foot-four, 270 pound frame.
While most are infatuated with Cooper, Leonard Williams and Marcus Mariota, Dupree may have the highest upside of anyone in the draft.
Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford
Peat faced some of the nation’s best edge rushers on one of the nation’s best teams. He’s unquestionably the most pro-ready tackle in the draft, with arguably the most upside. He has enough power to be an upper echelon run blocker, but enough quickness and agility to be a premier pass rusher.
His six-foot-seven body carries 313 pounds, lean muscle and 34 inch arms. Peat can improve against speed rushers in the passing game, but overall, is about as safe of an early first round pick you can hope for.
Mario Edwards Jr, DT, Florida State
Edwards is a semi-under-the-radar prospect as far as mainstream media goes, but it’s very possible he goes in the top half of the first round. All the same, he could be drafted as late as the third day.
All the talent is there — physical, knowledgeable, instinctive — but excess weight and a perceived lack of desire to win every battle has some scouts knocking him way down.
Edwards is six-foot-three and 279 pounds, with 33 inch arms. He’s got the get-off and punch to help him advance, and if he can do the things coaches want, can be an exceptional player in the NFL. But some teams might not see that happening.
Jason Leskiw is SFBay’s Oakland Raiders beat writer and member of the Professional Football Writers of America. Follow @SFBay and @LeskiwSFBay on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of the Oakland Raiders.