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3 sleepers Raiders drafted who could become stars

MOBILE, AL – JANUARY 30: Safety Tyree Gillespie #3 from Missouri of the American Team warms up before the start of the 2021 Resse’s Senior Bowl at Hancock Whitney Stadium on the campus of the University of South Alabama on January 30, 2021 in Mobile, Alabama. The National Team defeated the American Team 27-24. (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)

There’s been just one playoff appearance since 2003 and no division title in nearly two decades. Did the Raiders find anyone late in the draft that can help right now?

It’s been another fascinating offseason for a franchise that always seems to do things a little differently. The Las Vegas Raiders will call Sin City home for the second straight year. But one of the team’s biggest shortcomings happens to be a side of the ball that despite additions via the draft and free agency just never seems to make progress.

Perhaps that’s the reason that head coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock on banking on new defensive coordinator Gus Bradley to right the ship, per say. The Raiders made seven picks in this year’s draft and five were on defense. In fact, the club took a tackle in the first round and a center in the final round – meaning the Raiders did not draft a skill position player.

The discussion here is whether some of the lesser-known prospects could emerge as standouts. If the Raiders are to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2016, it may be essential that at least three of their rookie class does.

3 Raiders’ picks who could turn into stars

3. S Tyree Gillespie (Missouri)

This could be an interesting position battle to keep an eye on. In 2019, the Raiders used a first-round pick on strong safety Johnathan Abram. Three years earlier, the franchise used the 14th overall selection in the draft on Karl Joseph. The former has struggled to stay healthy and the latter is back with the club after a season with the Browns.

This year, the club opted for University of Missouri safety Tyree Gillespie. He totaled 45-plus tackles in each of his final three seasons with the Tigers. He could help the Raiders improve the league’s 24th-ranked rushing defense.

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