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Evaluating the four biggest Las Vegas Raiders draft needs 2023

The Las Vegas Raiders enter the 2023 NFL Draft seeking the pieces that will both help them get back to the playoffs and help establish a long-term core for the future. Holding the seventh pick and four top-100 selections, there’s an opportunity to significantly improve the roster.

Las Vegas already addressed several positions in NFL free agency. it signed Jimmy Garoppolo to be its starting quarterback in 2023 and added wide receivers Jakobi Meyers, Phillip Dorsett and Cam Sims to the depth chart.

Related: Las Vegas Raiders draft picks 2023

However, this team is still a lot of moves away from being considered a legitimate contender in the AFC. If the franchise wants to be competitive in 2023 and create a young foundation it can build from, the upcoming NFL Draft will be crucial.

Let’s dive into the top Raiders draft needs in 2023.

1. Quarterback

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Josh McDaniels and the Raiders’ organization should have all the confidence in the world starting Garoppolo in 2023. He isn’t a great starting quarterback, but he executes the offense and makes decisions exactly how his coach wants. From that perspective, the quarterback might not seem like the most glaring need for Las Vegas.

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However, Garoppolo has an extensive history of injuries issues and the Raiders could cut him in 2024 for $13 million in cap savings if he’s a post-June 1 cut. Even if Garoppolo sticks around for a second season, though, he was barely just an above-average starter when playing under the best possible circumstances a quarterback could ask for.

The Raiders’ offense needs a ceiling-raiser. While Anthony Richardson and Will Levis have their flaws as prospects and likely should learn from the sideline in 2023, they offer franchise-caliber upside. Richardson is eerily reminiscent of Josh Allen and Cam Newton while Levis is a good athlete with the strongest arm in the draft class.

Garoppolo can help a team win a few playoff games if the supporting cast around him is perfect. Las Vegas likely won’t ever be able to replicate the offensive line and weaponry he had in San Francisco. So, roll the dice on a quarterback who could develop into becoming the star of the offense.

2. Cornerback

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One of the biggest knocks on the 2023 Raiders offseason is the lack of improvements made defensively. A defense that allowed an average 98.8 passer rating with a 25-6 TD-INT ratio and 67.5 percent completion rate to opposing quarterbacks only made marginal additions to its secondary.

Related: Josh McDaniels denies report top prospect taken off Las Vegas Raiders’ draft board

While defensive coordinator Patrick Graham’s scheme might not necessarily require elite talents to be effective, he does need quality coverage weapons. Las Vegas doesn’t have to take a cornerback in the first round, but it shouldn’t leave Day 2 without addressing the position.

Players like Emmanuel Forbes (Mississippi State), Cam Smith (South Carolina), Tyrique Stevenson (Miami) and Clark Phillips II (Utah) all stand out as potential targets. Phillips will be available in the second round, even if Las Vegas trades back, and his playmaking ability paired with his football IQ and work ethic stand out. No matter who the target is, Las Vegas needs cornerbacks.

Related: Las Vegas Raiders mock draft 2023

3. Edge Rusher

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A good defense can never have enough quality pass rushers and we certainly wouldn’t classify the defensive performance in Las Vegas as good. Maxx Crosby is still one of the best pass rushers in the NFL, but there isn’t a lot to bank on outside of him.

While some will point to Chandler Jones, the 33-year-old pass rusher showed signs of regression last season. After earning an 89.8 PFF pass-rushing grade in 2021 – 47 pressures, 11 sacks – it fell to 60.4 this past season. He isn’t as explosive coming around the corner as he used to be and it’s a safe bet Las Vegas will cut him in 2024.

If the Raiders prioritize drafting an edge rusher in the second or third round, they’ll accomplish multiple things. First, they land a high-end rotational pass rusher who can rotate with Jones to keep him fresh. Doing that alone should provide a spark for this defense. Just as important, the Raiders will have a young talent who can they coach up into becoming the perfect complementary edge rusher opposite of Crosby in 2024 and beyond.

4. Offensive Line

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Of the many things Raiders’ general manager Dave Ziegler should’ve learned from his time with the New England Patriots is the importance of the offensive line. However, that was one of the biggest problems for Las Vegas last season.

The Raiders ranked 26th in PFF’s Pass Blocking Efficiency (82.8), allowing 200 pressures, 138 hurries and 23 sacks in 17 regular-season games. Considering pass protection is paramount for Garoppolo or a young quarterback to be effective, it remains a pressing need.

If Las Vegas doesn’t draft a quarterback in the first round, it can grab one of the top offensive tackles in the 2023 NFL Draft (Peter Skoronski, Paris Johnson Jr). If Ziegler waits until the second round, Ohio State right tackle Dawand Jones stands out as the ideal plug-and-play starter for Las Vegas next season.

Related: If you’re a fan of the Raiders, check out #RaiderNation rumors, rankings, and news here.

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