NFL Draft expert reveals sleeper pick for Las Vegas Raiders in first round

Las Vegas Raiders
Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Now that the bulk of free agency is in the rearview mirror, the Las Vegas Raiders’ team needs are much more defined. There’s no greater need than finding a new franchise quarterback in Vegas, as Aidan O’Connell and Gardner Minshew likely aren’t the long-term solutions for Antonio Pierce’s team. Not if the plan is to get back to the playoffs anyway.

Having already spent some money on a veteran free agent, if the Raiders upgrade their QB room from here, it’s likely to happen in the 2024 NFL Draft. Yet, the Raiders don’t have it as easy as some of their competitors who are guaranteed to be in position to take a top QB, like Chicago, Washington, and New England.

Instead, by being stuck at No. 13, the Raiders have to be concerned about other teams picking ahead of them, such as the Vikings and Broncos at 11 and 12. This means if the Raiders are targeting someone like J.J. McCarthy in case he slips further than expected, they may have to mortgage their future by trading their first plus a future first-round pick for the Michigan QB.

However, there’s always another option, such as drafting someone like Washington’s Michael Penix Jr., who’s been a bit overlooked in the draft process as of late. Yet, as NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah notes, Raiders fans shouldn’t rule Penix out.

“Speaking of somebody with a high upside, I would not sleep on a name that has not been mentioned much, but Michael Penix Jr., I would not sleep on that one with the Raiders there at 13, which could surprise some people.”

Daniel Jeremiah on Michael Penix Jr.’s first-round draft interest

Even if Penix isn’t at the very top of the Raiders’ draft board (and maybe he is), he’d still provide another developmental option for Vegas to take a chance on. The front office already has an idea of what they have in O’Connell, and while there are traits to like, his limited mobility translates to a much lower ceiling. That won’t change with Penix either, but the arm talent is obvious.

If Penix is still available after Minnesota and Denver make their selections, then plucking Penix could make a lot of sense, depending on who’s available. Not to mention, if the Vikings decide not to take a QB at 11 for some reason, perhaps their plan involved returning to Penix later at 23, but the Raiders could easily curtail those plans by making him their pick instead. It may be a bit higher than his projected draft range, but ‘reaching’ for a QB is a lot better than not having one at all, and if he pans out, no one will care where he was selected.

Related: Las Vegas Raiders ‘make the most sense’ to trade up for a first-round QB

Related: 2024 NFL mock draft: Broncos, Vikings get QBs, projecting J.J. McCarthy’s landing spot

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