3 Players the Raiders Can Draft to Rebuild Their Defense

Max Staley
Jon Gruden and the Raiders lost, 42-21, to the Titans in Week 14.
Jon Gruden and the Raiders lost, 42-21, to the Titans in Week 14. / Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images
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The Oakland Raiders got off to a surprisingly fast start. The team was 6-4 after Week 11, and looked poised to be in the hunt for a Wild Card berth. But things quickly fell apart. The Raiders are now mired in a three-game losing streak, and only have a 1.0 percent chance at making the postseason, per Football Outsiders.

While the offense has certainly regressed as of late, the brunt of the blame will likely fall on the defense. Oakland is the league's second-worst defense, per Football Outsiders' DVOA metric, and the Raiders have surrendered 38.7 points per game (PPG) during this three-game skid.

With that in mind, here are three players the Raiders could target with their two first-round picks (projected to be No. 14 and No. 18 heading into Week 15) in the 2020 NFL Draft to rebuild their defense.

1. Kristian Fulton, Cornerback, LSU

Kristian Fulton is one of the top-ranked cornerbacks in the 2020 Draft.
Kristian Fulton is one of the top-ranked cornerbacks in the 2020 Draft. / Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

One of Oakland's biggest needs will be rebuilding its secondary. The Raiders' secondary checks in as the second-worst pass defense in the league, per Football Outsiders' DVOA rankings, and Oakland surrenders the fifth-most passing yards per game. Jonathan Abram's return will likely help stabilize the secondary next year, but adding a top-flight talent like LSU's Kristian Fulton could really improve this unit. Fulton has 12 passes defended, which is tied for the 14th-best mark in the country, and is often considered the second-best corner in this class behind Ohio State's Jeffrey Okudah.

2. Isaiah Simmons, Linebacker, Clemson

Isaiah Simmons has six sacks, two interceptions and 93 tackles this season.
Isaiah Simmons has six sacks, two interceptions and 93 tackles this season. / Joe Robbins/Getty Images

A converted safety, Isaiah Simmons is one of the most versatile linebackers in the draft. He's great in pass coverage, which is obviously a need in Oakland, and he's big and athletic enough to be a force in the run game as well. Simmons is a jack of all trades, and his unique versatility could be key for the Raiders' defense that needs help across the board.

3. Javon Kinlaw, Defensive Tackle, South Carolina

Javon Kinlaw has six sacks this season.
Javon Kinlaw has six sacks this season. / Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

Oakland spent its first pick in last year's draft on Clemson's Clelin Ferrell, and while he's shown flashes, he hasn't developed into a consistent disruptor. He has 3.5 sacks on the year, 2.5 of which came in one game, and this pass-rushing unit needs a boost. The Raiders have the 10th-lowest sack percentage in the NFL, and a league-worst 51 QB hits. Rookie Maxx Crosby, who has 7.5 sacks and 12 QB hits, looks like he's going to be a part of the future, though. With Crosby and Ferrell hopefully developing into a decent pass-rushing duo on the edge, drafting an interior disruptor to pair with Maurice Hurst looks like a solid option. There are few better DTs available than Javon Kinlaw, who moves remarkably well despite his massive 6-foot-6-inch frame and 310 pound body.


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Max Staley is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Max Staley also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username mstaley1212. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.

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