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Las Vegas Raiders NFL draft picks 2021: Analysis for every selection

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Alex Leatherwood's NFL draft profile (0:40)

Check out the highlights from Alabama OG Alex Leatherwood's college career. (0:40)

The 2021 NFL draft was held April 29 through May 1 and every Las Vegas Raiders' draft pick will be analyzed here.

After last season's virtual draft, Cleveland played host to festivities this year with a handful of potential draft picks present and socially distanced because of COVID-19.

Here's a pick-by-pick look at how each player Las Vegas has selected will fit.

Analysis of every NFL pick | Updated NFL depth charts


Round 1, No. 17 overall: Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama

My take: Um ... yeah, the Raiders had a huge hole at right tackle, but Leatherwood probably could have been had 20-plus picks later, and defense is still the biggest hole on the team. Is this a reach? Taking a defensive player here or trading back from 17 to get more picks and still being in position to draft Leatherwood, the fourth O-lineman selected but not a consensus top-5 O-lineman, seemed a more profitable move. Unless there were no takers or the Raiders simply loved Leatherwood that much. Perhaps the Raiders move Leatherwood, who played guard to start his college career, to right guard and slide Denzelle Good, who played right tackle and left guard last season, to right tackle.

Roll, Tide?: Leatherwood is the third Alabama player to be drafted in the first round by GM Mike Mayock and coach Jon Gruden in three years, along with running back Josh Jacobs (No. 24 overall in 2019) and receiver Henry Ruggs III (No. 12 overall in 2020). So yeah, the Raiders have a certain 'Bama pipeline working (as well as with Clemson, as the Raiders have drafted five Tigers since 2019). Leatherwood was a unanimous first-team All-American and first-team All-SEC in 2020, so he is accomplished at the collegiate level, but is he a true plug-and-play right tackle in the NFL?

Project, or plug-and-play? At 6-foot-6, 312 pounds, Leatherwood is an imposing figure for a reimagined Raiders offensive line. But he is far from a polished product. As noted above, he began his college career as a right guard in 2018 before switching to left tackle in 2019, where he played 1,554 snaps. And he did have an uptick in pressures allowed, doubling from 7 to 14, and in pressures that resulted in sacks, going from none to 5 from 2019 to 2020, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Plus, he was called for 17 penalties over the last two seasons, tied for the second-most among FBS offensive linemen in that span.


Round 2, No. 43 overall: Trevon Moehrig, S, TCU

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Trevon Moehrig's NFL draft profile

Check out the highlights that make TCU's Trevon Moehrig a prospect in this year's NFL draft.

My take: Boom! The Raiders needed a safety and they got the top-ranked center fielder in the draft, the Jim Thorpe Award winner as the nation's best defensive back last season. Las Vegas has Johnathan Abram, but he has a hard time staying on the field, and re-signed former first-rounder Karl Joseph. Moehrig, though, complements them both and might be better in coverage than either Abram or Joseph. Moehrig's 19 pass breakups over the last two seasons are the most among all college safeties and, when lined up at safety, he did not allow a touchdown as the primary defender in coverage in 2020, per ESPN Stats & Information. And from 2019 to 2020, Moehrig broke up 26% of passes when he was the primary defender in coverage, the fourth-best percentage in the FBS (minimum 20 attempts as the primary defender in coverage). And for those of you still upset by the Raiders' seeming reach of Alabama offensive tackle Alex Leatherwood at No. 17 overall, how much better would you have felt with Moehrig at 17 and Leatherwood here? Yeah, needs met.


Round 3, No. 79 overall: Malcolm Koonce, DE, Buffalo

My take: Another need, another need addressed. Even if Koonce was rated by some as a fifth-round talent. No matter, the Raiders, even after adding Yannick Ngakoue in free agency, need numbers on the edge, and Koonce is a raw but malleable talent. The irony? He comes from Buffalo, alma mater of Khalil Mack, whose hold out in 2018 forced the Raiders to trade him to Chicago. The 6-foot-3, 250-pound Koonce isn’t going to beat out Ngakoue, Maxx Crosby or even Clelin Ferrell but should bring some versatile depth after Las Vegas parted ways with Arden Key this offseason. Fourteen of Koonce's 87 sacks came in the past two seasons, even though he played in only six games last season.


Round 3, No. 80 overall: Divine Deablo, S/LB, Virginia Tech

My take: If nothing else, Divine Deablo, projected by many as a fifth-round selection, has one of the best names in the draft. A safety by nature, the Raiders announced him as a linebacker. At 6-foot-3, 226 pounds, Deablo began his college career as a receiver but found his niche after switching to defense as a junior, courtesy of his size and hands. He would have to bulk up to play on the second level in the NFL but the Raiders do need linebackers who can cover. Consider: Deablo had four interceptions and four pass deflections in nine games for the Hokies last season, to go with 55 tackles, two for a loss. Yeah, the Raiders' defense could use that activity.


Round 4, No. 143 overall: Tyree Gillespie, S, Missouri

My take: The Raiders are loading up on safeties, having taken Trevon Moehrig in the second round and Divine Deablo (who will be converted to weakside linebacker) in the third, and signing Karl Joseph in free agency. Does that mean the Raiders are done with 2019 first-rounder Johnathan Abram? No. But the position needs depth badly and Gillespie provides exactly that. The 6-foot, 210-pounder is known as a sure tackler who played deep as a free safety in college. He had 12 passes defensed but no interceptions with two sacks at Missouri.


Round 5, No. 167 overall: Nate Hobbs, CB, Illinois

My take: Amik Robertson, a fourth-round pick last year who had a hard time getting on the field, has competition for the open slot corner spot. Hobbs (6 foot, 195 pounds) is bigger than Robertson (5-foot-8, 187 pounds), and the four-year starter is not afraid to stick his nose in the pile, with 168 career tackles and 12.5 for a loss. He also returned kicks for the Illini, so special teams play is key. Hobbs, who had three career interceptions, is the fifth of six Raiders draft picks on the defensive side of the ball.


Round 7, No. 230 overall: Jimmy Morrissey, C, Pittsburgh

My take: Having traded Pro Bowler Rodney Hudson, the Raiders felt the need for depth and competition at center. Sure, Andre James is the clubhouse leader, and Las Vegas did sign veteran Nick Martin, but Morrissey is no slouch. The 6-foot-2, 305-pounder started 47 games for the Panthers and is the epitome of a "Gruden Grinder," having won the 2020 Burlsworth Trophy as the most outstanding player in college football who began his career as a walk-on. A two-time team captain, Morrissey also played a game at right guard -- versatility is key for the Raiders' O-line -- and was charged with giving up just two sacks over his last two seasons. Also, all seven Raiders draft picks played last season, rather than opting out, for what it's worth.