NFL Draft Prospects Raiders Must Target After 2024 Shrine, Senior Bowls

NFL Draft Prospects Raiders Must Target After 2024 Shrine, Senior Bowls

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    Kansas edge Austin Booker

    Kansas edge Austin BookerMichael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    After going 5-4 under interim coach Antonio Pierce, the Las Vegas Raiders decided to give Pierce the job on a full-time basis.

    The next step for the Raiders, Pierce and new general manager Tom Telesco is to strengthen a roster that showed a lot of promise down the stretch. With $43.4 million in projected cap space, Las Vegas can afford to do much of the legwork in free agency. However, a strong draft class would go a long way toward building a long-term contender.

    This past week, the Raiders and the rest of the NFL got an up-close look at several intriguing draft prospects at the East-West Shrine Bowl and the Senior Bowl.

    Below we’ll examine three players who stood out during the week and who should be firmly on Las Vegas’ radar heading into the offseason.

Austin Booker, Edge, Kansas

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    Kansas edge Austin Booker

    Kansas edge Austin BookerScott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    The Raiders may not be eager to target a pass-rusher early in the draft for a couple of reasons. For one, there’s a good chance that Las Vegas gets aggressive in its pursuit of a future franchise quarterback. Secondly, the Raiders just used a first-round pick on Tyree Wilson in 2023.

    However, the Raiders do need more help on the edge. Maxx Crosby is a star, but he accounted for 14.5 of the team’s 46 sacks last season. Malcolm Koonce was the only other Raider with more than five sacks.

    Fortunately, Telesco may be able to uncover a gem in the latter rounds, and Kansas’ Austin Booker is a prospect to track. The Bleacher Report Scouting Department reported that Booker shined during Senior Bowl practices, and he continued to stand out in the game itself.

    “Kansas’ Austin Booker flashing AGAIN,” Brent Sobleski of the B/R Scouting Department posted on X, formerly known as Twitter. “Long arms, good first-step quickness, with some explosive traits. Might have one of the most intriguing yet raw skill sets among this year’s class.”

    Booker may not be polished enough to make an immediate impact, but he has the traits needed to become a long-term contributor on Las Vegas’ pass-rushing rotation.

Frank Gore Jr., RB, Southern Miss

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    Southern Miss RB Frank Gore Jr.

    Southern Miss RB Frank Gore Jr. Chris Leduc/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    The Raiders shouldn’t be desperate for a running back, even if they allowed Josh Jacobs to depart in 2024 free agency. They likely saw enough from Zamir White down the stretch to feel comfortable having him as the Week 1 starter if necessary.

    However, it would behoove the Raiders to pair White with a strong complementary back. Southern Mississippi’s Frank Gore Jr. could be a very intriguing No. 2 option.

    Gore, the son of longtime NFL standout Frank Gore Sr., is a compact (5’7″, 199 lbs), physical runner with enough speed and shiftiness to generate big plays. He was named the offensive MVP of the East-West Shrine Bowl after racking up 87 rushing yards and a touchdown.

    48 of those yards came on an impressive scoring run.

    While Gore largely showcased his rushing ability at the Shrine Bowl, he’s a capable pass-catcher out of the backfield. He rushed for over 1,100 yards this past season but also caught 27 passes for 221 yards and three touchdowns.

    That receiving ability could be important if Gore should land in Las Vegas. While did solid work on the ground, he wasn’t regularly used as a pass-catching option, finishing with 15 receptions for 98 yards.

Quinyon Mitchell, CB, Toledo

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    Toledo CB Quinyon Mitchell

    Toledo CB Quinyon MitchellMichael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    The Las Vegas defense took some major strides under Pierce, and it finished the year ranked 12th in passing yards allowed and ninth in points allowed. However, it would behoove the Raiders to continue bolstering their secondary this offseason.

    The Raiders dumped cornerback Marcus Peters in late November, and Amik Robertson is scheduled to be a free agent in March.

    Following a handful of stellar practices during Senior Bowl week, Toledo corner Quinyon Mitchell should be high on Las Vegas’ wish list.

    “No matter who he’s faced, he’s gotten into each receiver’s hip pocket, showing off his agility and burst out of breaks,” Cory Giddings of the B/R Scouting Department wrote. “During
    one-on-one drills, the two-time All-MAC performer showed off his ball
    skills by recording an interception. More importantly, he displayed
    plenty of speed to run with all receivers he faced throughout the day.”

    Mitchell, a talented 6’0″, 195-pound prospect, showed plenty of ball skills in college too. Over the past two seasons, he recorded an impressive six interceptions and 37 passes defended. He’d be a fantastic addition to a Raiders defense that ranked 17th with 13 interceptions in 2023.

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