Las Vegas Raiders: Ranking the top five options with the 13th pick in 2024 NFL Draft

Las Vegas Raiders
Credit: Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

Within two weeks of the 2024 NFL draft, the Las Vegas Raiders have a few glaring needs, which gives us a clue as to what they could do with the 13th overall pick.

After a few notable free-agent signings, the Raiders have done little to fill voids along the right side of their offensive line or at cornerback. 

The front office could also spice up the quarterback competition with a rookie signal-caller capable of competing with Gardner Minshew and Aidan O’Connell for the starting job. 

Anyone who believes that teams simply choose the best player available without consideration for roster needs has oversimplified the approach. 

As noted last week, general manager Tom Telesco has a strong track record of addressing offensive line needs early in drafts.

So, based on roster needs, Telesco’s draft history and the most likely players available, let’s go through a top-five ranking for the Raiders’ most probable options with the 13th overall pick. We’ll start with the top choice and then go through each of the other potential alternatives.

Related: Mark Davis gives Las Vegas Raiders go-ahead to trade up for quarterback

1. Taliese Fuaga, offensive tackle, Oregon State

Taliese Fuaga NFL Draft
Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Taliese Fuaga may be the perfect pick in terms of value, need and schematic fit.

Fuaga has made all 25 of his collegiate starts at right tackle, and he’s demonstrated the ability to handle zone-blocking assignments, though some teams may see him as a guard in that scheme.

Whether at guard or tackle, Fuaga can immediately earn a starting spot on the right side of Las Vegas’ offensive line. 

As the Chicago Bears’ offensive coordinator, Luke Getsy employed a heavy zone-based blocking scheme. This will likely be the case in Las Vegas, with former San Francisco 49ers assistant James Cregg set to coach the offensive line.

Fuaga could be a dominant pass-blocker with his aggressive nature. He can also reach second-level blocks to open up lanes for the ground attack.

The Raiders should pencil him in at right tackle first. If he’s not quick enough to seal off speedy edge-rushers, the 6-foot-6 334-pounder may have a long, decorated career at guard.

Related: Full 7-round Las Vegas Raiders mock draft

2. JC Latham, offensive tackle, Alabama

JC Latham, Las Vegas Raiders, 2024 NFL Draft
Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Before you envision flashbacks of Alex Leatherwood, whom the Raiders selected with the 17th overall pick in the 2021 draft, just know that JC Latham is a much different prospect from his size (6-foot-6, 342 pounds) to his tendency to initiate contact rather than letting defenders bring the battle to him.

At Latham’s size, he may have some limitations regarding his ability to get across the formation to clear back-side lanes, though he’s equipped to execute on combination blocks and move upfield to open up big plays on the ground for running backs.

Latham’s sheer power and ability to win one-on-one battles on the perimeter would give the Raiders’ starting quarterback a reliable bodyguard opposite left tackle Kolton Miller. 

As a starting right tackle over the last two years, Latham hasn’t had an issue keeping his quarterback clean in pass-blocking sets, and he shouldn’t have much of a problem in that area on the pro level if he controls his tendency to prematurely extend his reach, which compromises his balance.

If the Raiders want a tone-setter with a unique blend of size and quickness and on the edge, Latham could be the pick at 13.

Related: Updated 2024 NFL mock draft

3. Troy Fautanu, offensive lineman, Washington 

Troy Fautanu
Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Troy Fautanu isn’t a seamless fit for the Raiders in terms of position need like Taliese Fuaga, but his traits may be appealing to general manager Tom Telesco and offensive coordinator Luke Getsy. 

At the NFL Scouting Combine, Fautanu finished with the second-highest athletic score among offensive tackles in the class, per NFL.com. In the past, Telesco has favored athletic offensive linemen.

Compared to Fuaga, Fautanu isn’t as technically skilled with his hand technique, but he’s a fluid lateral mover and finds action in open space, which will allow him to be effective in zone-blocking schemes. 

Fautanu isn’t a finesse player though. He can bulldoze defenders when he leads as a blocker in the run game and has heavy hands that can put defenders on their heels.

At Washington, Fautanu played on the left side of the line, mostly at tackle. If the Raiders take him, they would have to be confident that he can either flip to right tackle or kick inside as a full-time guard.

4. Michael Penix Jr., quarterback, Washington 

2024 NFL Draft QB rankings, Michael Penix Jr.
Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

If the top tackles are gone before pick 13, general manager Tom Telesco could target a quarterback.

The Raiders shouldn’t force a quarterback choice, though they would have to use their intel about where the second-tier signal-callers could go in the draft. 

Since his pro day, Michael Penix Jr. has gained steam among media pundits as a potential first-round pick.

The Raiders hosted a visit with Penix. If they think he can be their franchise quarterback, Telesco can justify taking him at 13 to avoid the risk of missing out on him in the second round with the 44th overall pick.

Penix’s deep-ball accuracy, toughness, and resolve to bounce back from multiple season-ending injuries to help lead Washington to the College Football Playoff Championship Game will likely appeal to head coach Antonio Pierce, who seems to value a certain character in his players.

In addition to Penix’s favorable physical traits and intangibles, Pro Football Focus’ Sam Monson also noted that Penix does a good job of going through his progressions, scanning the entire field.

Because of Penix’s playing experience and NFL-level arm, he could walk into training camp and immediately challenge Gardner Minshew and Aidan O’Connell for the starting job. 

Though critics may believe that Penix is a reach at 13, the Raiders may not feel confident about trading back into the first round or up in the second round for him. If that’s the case, he’s a realistic option on Day 1.

Related: Las Vegas Raiders might have to trade up for top target in NFL Draft

5. Terrion Arnold, cornerback, Alabama 

Terrion Arnold
Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Though Tom Telesco’s draft track record shows that he’s selected a cornerback once in the first round (Jason Verrett in 2014), the Raiders must consider value in this spot.

At 13, they may be able to pick the first cornerback in the draft, which is an appealing scenario for a team that has a need at the position. 

The Raiders allowed Amik Robertson to walk in free agency, and they haven’t signed a veteran cornerback yet. Brandon Facyson and Jakorian Bennett are the two current candidates to start opposite Jack Jones.

You can choose between Terrion Arnold and Quinyon Mitchell as the top players at the position in this class.

That being said, if the Raiders want the cornerback who has more upside coming out of a zone-based scheme, Mitchell seems like the guy. 

However, if defensive coordinator Patrick Graham favors versatility, Arnold could be the ideal pick because of his extensive experience playing in the slot and ability to supplement the run defense.

In the NFL, a player’s ability to perform at a high level in various roles and scenarios usually makes him a more valuable asset because weekly game plans can change drastically based on the opponent. That should be considered in a toss-up decision between Arnold and Mitchell.

Maurice Moton covers the Las Vegas Raiders for Sportsnaut. You can follow him on Twitter at @MoeMoton.

Mentioned in this article:

More About: