The Raiders aren’t scheduled to pick until the third round of the NFL draft after trading their first two selections for star wide receiver Davante Adams.
It’s difficult to project which players might be available Friday by the time the Raiders are on the clock for the 86th selection.
Throughout the week, we will let a computer do it for us. The Review-Journal will run a mock simulation each day and break down the prospect who is selected for the Raiders. Wednesday’s was conducted with the Pro Football Focus draft tool. The choice is offensive tackle Max Mitchell of Louisiana.
He was outstanding for the Ragin’ Cajuns this season and could compete for playing time this year before taking over as the potential right tackle of the future.
Mitchell went off the board immediately before fellow tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere in this exercise, the final simulation before the draft.
He could prove to be a steal.
Mitchell didn’t play the best competition on a game-to-game basis, but he did earn the highest Pro Football Focus grade of any offensive tackle in the nation.
“The competition level is a concern with him, but he allowed only one pressure on 47 pass-blocking snaps in his lone Power Five game last year against Texas,” the site wrote of Mitchell in its draft guide. “While Mitchell isn’t going to blow anyone away physically, he’s consistent and versatile.”
Mitchell’s leap to elite status as a senior didn’t come as a surprise to anyone who had been closely monitoring his college career.
The 22-year-old Monroe, Louisiana, native showed improvement each season until finally being named an All-American this year.
That earned him invitations to the Senior Bowl and the NFL combine and put him squarely on the radar of NFL teams. It’s an accomplishment he truly started believing in during his sophomore year at Louisiana.
“My offensive line coach helped me realize I had the potential and talent to do it,” Mitchell said at the combine. “I took a big step after my freshman year and started picturing what could happen down the road. It kind of became a reality during senior year when agents start calling you and you start reading about yourself a little bit. It’s surreal still, just being here.”
He didn’t have to look far for inspiration, either.
College teammate Kevin Dotson was selected two years ago by Pittsburgh and was the Steelers’ starting left guard this season before suffering an injury in Week 10.
“I talk with him all the time,” Mitchell said. “He just gives me little tips on how to handle things and I got to see how he handled himself for three years and learn from him.”
That gave Mitchell some confidence he would be able to play at the next level, but his experience at the Senior Bowl really confirmed that belief. While he wasn’t a standout at either, he didn’t look out of place.
“It showed that I could play at the next level,” he said. “It was awesome to go out there and face the best of the best in the country and get an early look at what that next level might look like. Definitely boosted my confidence and showed me what I may need to work on a little more.”
He could stand to add some bulk. Mitchell played at less than 300 pounds last season before weighing in at 307 in Indianapolis. Not carrying around as much weight as some of his peers may be one of the reasons he moves so fluidly in his pass sets and is so smooth in protection. He probably needs to add more strength to avoid getting overpowered at the next level and become more of a road grader in the run game, though.
“While Mitchell has good lower lateral movement and ability to redirect, he lacks upper-body strength, which affects his ability to quickly anchor against defenders who are attempting to convert speed to power,” reads his Draft Network scouting report. “Mitchell shows athletic traits that translate to the NFL, but his success will be determined by his ability to gain upper-body strength to not only be able to effectively block speed rushers but also rushers who have an element of power in their game.”
It’s part of why some teams project Mitchell as a guard, though he hasn’t taken any snaps there since 2019. He did play plenty at both tackle positions.
Mitchell is open to anything and believes versatility will be one of his strengths in the NFL. It’s one of the traits Raiders’ general manager Dave Ziegler said he is looking for in the draft.
The other players selected in our previous simulations were Nebraska interior offensive lineman Cam Jurgens, Cincinnati cornerback Coby Bryant and LSU guard Ed Ingram.
Contact Adam Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on Twitter.