Oakland Raiders: Marshawn Lynch’s Impact On 2017 NFL Draft

If the Oakland Raiders indeed land Marshawn Lynch, what effect would that have on their 2017 NFL Draft plans?

With the 2017 NFL Draft approaching, its looks like their is mutual interest Marshawn Lynch returning to the field as an Oakland Raiders running back. While Lynch will most certainly add octane to the Raiders offensive engine, the immediate impact wouldn’t be felt on the field.  Instead, it will be felt on the draft board.

After losing Latavius Murray in free agency to the Minnesota Vikings, the Raiders are very thin at running back. Before the news on Lynch, it was thought that Reggie McKenzie would consider drafting a running back with the 24th overall pick. But if the Raiders are able to sign Beast Mode, there is a pretty good chance the Silver and Black brain trust would look to bolster a defense that was over-matched at times last season.

So who could be on the board if the team decides to draft defense? There are plenty of good choices.

Zach Cunnignham, LB – Vanderbilt

Although there was some improvement at this position in 2017, it remains a big hole in the Raiders defense. Pro Football Focus’ most improved linebacker, Perry Riley, remains unsigned leaving Corey James as the Raiders highest rated linebacker. Even if the Raiders decide to re-sign Riley, they still need a lot of help at linebacker. If the Raiders stay at No. 24 overall and refrain from trading up, there is a good chance Cunningham will be on the board.

Malik McDowell, DL – Michigan State

McDowell is an enigma. He has tremendous physical talent with questionable work ethic, making it difficult to predict where he will be selected in the draft. If a coach can find a way to properly motivate the former Michigan State Spartan, he can have a deep and lasting impact on a defense. An intense no-nonsense coach like Jack Del Rio could be what McDowell needs to realize his potential.

Jabrill Peppers, S  – Michigan

Peppers projected draft position is all over the map. Pundits who believe Peppers lacks the size to make a serious impact defensively have him going in the late first round. For those in love with his explosiveness, Peppers is worth a top-five selection.

If Peppers drops to the 24th pick overall, he is a no-brainer first-round selection for the Raiders. Michigan’s ball-hawking safety is very versatile and could help the Raiders in the return game and on offense while adding depth at both linebacker and safety.  There is debate as to where on the field Peppers will play. However, his talent and work ethic are not-debatable, making him worthy of a late-first round pick.

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