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Las Vegas Raiders: Assessing urgency to fill top roster needs before the 2024 NFL Draft

Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

After the Las Vegas Raiders agreed to terms on deals with Christian Wilkins and Gardner Minshew, the fan base has grown restless with general manager Tom Telesco’s patient approach. 

Do the Raiders need to make another splashy acquisition before the draft?

Typically, teams address the biggest positions of need in free agency to avoid reaching to fill those same voids during the draft. 

Thus far, the Raiders have poured most of their financial resources into the defensive line, re-signing Adam Butler and John Jenkins in addition to signing Wilkins to a four-year, $110 million deal. The front office also added depth at tight end and running back by signing Harrison Bryant and Alexander Mattison, respectively. 

So, what’s next for the Raiders in free agency with a little more than a month until the draft? Do they need at least one more notable signing before turning their full focus to the rookie class? 

Let’s take a look at the Raiders’ top needs, which are positions without a clear-cut starter, and assess a level of urgency (on a scale of one to 10) to fill each position.

Related: Get your latest Las Vegas Raiders news here

Quarterback

Michael Penix Jr.
Credit: Sara Diggins/American-Statesman / USA TODAY NETWORK

Yes, the Raiders still need a quarterback, but their next move at this position should involve a rookie signal-caller. 

Las Vegas already has a veteran with starting experience, Gardner Minshew, who can challenge Aidan O’Connell for the starting job. 

Now, the Raiders need a young quarterback who fits new offensive coordinator Luke Getsy’s system. Keep in mind that the previous offensive regime led by former head coach and play-caller Josh McDaniels saw O’Connell as a fit last year, but that group is no longer in place.

O’Connell has earned a spot in the team’s summer quarterback battle with his late-season performances last year, throwing for eight touchdowns without an interception over his last four starts. However, he must show growth to impress a new offensive coaching staff and beat out a more experienced starter in Minshew.

Minshew’s two-year, $25 million ($15 million guaranteed) deal doesn’t take Las Vegas out of the quarterback market, though. The Raiders signed him at a salary rate comparable to a bridge-gap quarterback. His contract ranks 19th in average annual salary and 27th in guaranteed money among players at his position, per Spotrac.

Barring a trade, the Raiders look like they’re in range to draft the fifth or sixth quarterback in the class, but that doesn’t mean that signal-caller will be the fifth- or sixth-best quarterback in the class. 

If the Raiders really like Michael Penix Jr. or Bo Nix, don’t rule out a move back into the first round or a move up in the second round to take one of them (if available) as competition for O’Connell and Minshew.

Free-agent urgency meter: 1

Offensive tackle 

This year’s free-agent offensive tackle group didn’t have much beyond the big names like Mike Onwenu, Tyron Smith, Trent Brown and Jonah Williams. So, general manager Tom Telesco had no reason to overpay for a stopgap player at the position.

The Raiders could consider versatile offensive lineman Billy Turner who has experience at right guard and right tackle. He played those positions for the Green Bay Packers during Luke Getsy’s time as the passing game coordinator with the team.

If the price point is right, Las Vegas can also give Mekhi Becton a shot to show why he went 11th in the 2020 draft. He’s struggled with injuries in his four years with the New York Jets but started in 16 games last season.

The Raiders may strongly believe that Thayer Munford Jr. can handle a full-time starting role. In spot starts last year, he played well on both sides of the line. 

If Munford has an inroad to the starting right tackle spot, the Raiders may wait until the draft to address this position. 

Even if that’s the case, Telesco should still add a veteran swing tackle for some depth. Keep an eye on Kendall Lamm and Cameron Fleming for that role.

Free-agent urgency meter: 3

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Offensive guard 

If the NFL season started today, DJ Fluker would probably line up as the first-string right guard. He hasn’t played a regular-season snap since the 2020 season with the Baltimore Ravens. 

With Fluker’s three-year gap in action, the Raiders shouldn’t feel overly confident in him being a surefire starter.

Even if Tom Telesco plans to select a guard early in the draft, he needs to sign an interior offensive lineman who has been active since the COVID year. 

Fluker, who turned 33 on March 13, may not make the final roster. So, Las Vegas will likely add a veteran guard in the coming weeks.

Fortunately for the Raiders, they still have a few decent options on the free-agent market.

Halapoulivaati Vaitai has extensive experience as a right guard. If the coaching staff considers moving Dylan Parham to right guard, Connor Williams and Dalton Risner could continue to play left guard in Las Vegas.

Cody Whitehair’s best years are likely behind him, but he’s familiar with Luke Getsy’s system from their time together in Chicago.

Free-agent urgency meter: 10

Las Vegas Raiders need a cornerback 

Tre'Davious White, Buffalo BIlls
Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

The Raiders didn’t re-sign Amik Robertson, and he signed with the Detroit Lions in free agency, which opens up a spot on the boundary and backup slot cornerback snaps. 

The Raiders found a midseason waiver-wire gem in Jack Jones, who recorded four pass breakups and two pick-sixes while allowing a 63 passer rating in coverage, but who’s going to start opposite of him? 

For now, Brandon Facyson and Jakorian Bennett would battle for the spot.

However, the Raiders hosted cornerback Tre’Davious White for a visit on Monday.

Clearly, the Raiders feel the urgency to add a veteran cornerback before the draft and that should be the case.

Bennett had a rough rookie year, allowing a 102.5 passer rating in coverage and missing 17.9 percent of his tackle attempts. The team benched him on defense for the final three weeks of the 2023 season. 

Mostly because of injury, Facyson only played 44 defensive snaps last season. He suited up for the final three games of the previous campaign while Bennett transitioned to a special teams-only role.

Facyson seems like the lead option on the boundary for now, but once the Raiders sign another veteran, he’ll likely move down the depth chart. 

We haven’t seen much action on the cornerback market. Among the notable names, Stephon Gilmore, Xavien Howard, Adoree’ Jackson, Steven Nelson, Rock Ya-Sin, and Kristian Fulton are still available on the market. Any one of those guys would be a solid addition to the Raiders secondary.

With $28.3 million in cap space, Las Vegas can find a significant immediate upgrade at cornerback, which would ease the pressure off having to take one with the 13th pick in the draft. 

Free-agent urgency meter: 8


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

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