Top 5 sleepers to target for Day 3 of the 2024 NFL Draft

Las Vegas Raiders
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During NFL draft season, we read a lot about the top prospects, but film junkies enjoy the hunt for sleepers, under-the-radar players who have the potential to become stars. Can the Las Vegas Raiders find another Day 3 gem like Maxx Crosby in this year’s class?

Well, that’s easier said than done. Raiders general manager Tom Telesco doesn’t have a recent history of hitting big on late-round picks, but he’s working with assistant general manager Champ Kelly and a new scouting department, which may result in stronger results between Rounds 4 and 7. 

Keep in mind that Telesco has drafted starting-caliber players like Drue Tranquill, Kyzir White, Rayshawn Jenkins, and Desmond King in the middle rounds during his time with the Los Angeles Chargers. 

Can he find a roster cornerstone on the third day of the 2024 draft? 

Let’s go through five potential Day 3 targets who should be on the Raiders’ draft radar.

Rasheen Ali, running back, Marshall

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Raiders fans know what speed can do for an offense, and the team needs more of it in the backfield.

Running backs Zamir White and Alexander Mattison will likely split most of the touches on the ground in the upcoming season, though neither ball carrier has shown an extra gear with breakaway speed.

Rasheen Ali can become the Raiders’ change-of-pace running back to complement White and Mattison.

In 2023, Ali recorded six 50-plus-yard gains as a ball-carrier and pass-catcher. While at Marshall, he had a decent role in the short passing game, hauling in 75 passes for 557 yards and three touchdowns. 

Of course, skeptics question whether Ali can outrun defenders on the pro level after a productive collegiate career with a program that played within Conference USA and the Sun Belt Conference, but a player’s uncanny speed can help him make plays against any level of competition.

In Las Vegas, Ali wouldn’t be expected to carry a heavy workload alongside White and Mattison. Early in his career, he can pick his spots, especially late in games against fatigued defenders.

In a well-executed outside zone run scheme, Ali can get to the perimeter and turn on the afterburners for explosive gains.

Ali ruptured his bicep tendon in a strong showing during Senior Bowl week, but he’s expected to be ready to take the field in the summer.

Related: Las Vegas Raiders: Ranking the top five options with the 13th pick in 2024 NFL Draft

Javon Baker, wide receiver, UCF

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The Raiders need a big-play receiver on the perimeter with speedy deep threat Tre Tucker mostly exclusive to the slot wideout position. 

This offseason, the Raiders parted ways with Hunter Renfrow, and they didn’t re-sign DeAndre Carter, which creates opportunities for a fourth receiver on the depth chart.

Tom Telesco should have his eyes on Javon Baker if he slips past the third round.

If you watched Baker since his transfer from Alabama to UCF, you’ll notice a combination of his ball-tracking ability and strong hands. He attacks the football when it’s up in the air and beats defenders for contested catches.

As a straight-line runner, Baker isn’t a burner with a 4.54-second 40-yard time, though he has enough speed to get over the top and stretch the field.

As an explosive playmaker averaging 17.9 yards per reception over his last two years at UCF, Baker could carve out a role on the perimeter when Jakobi Meyers lines up in the slot.

NFL Insider: Las Vegas Raiders smart to snag Michael Penix Jr. with the 13th Pick

Sataoa Laumea, offensive lineman, Utah

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On Monday, the Raiders signed Cody Whitehair, who played guard and center under offensive coordinator Luke Getsy with the Chicago Bears.

Coming off a down season, Whitehair’s best years may be behind him, though he may be serviceable in the short term.

That being said, the Raiders will probably draft at least one guard next week. If they focus on offensive tackle early in the draft, Sataoa Laumea could be a target early on Day 3.

As a four-year starter at Utah, Laumea played right guard and right tackle for two years apiece, two of the Raiders’ biggest needs on the offensive line.

Laumea has experience in a zone-blocking system, so he should be a schematic fit for Getsy’s offense.

At the Senior Bowl, Bleacher Report’s Brent Sobleski highlighted a recurring issue with Laumeau’s ability to mirror quicker defenders on the edge, which is why he may be best suited to move back inside to right guard on the pro level.

Still, Laumeau has shown that he has the lateral agility to be effective in a blocking scheme that allows him to get out in space and showcase his ability as a pulling lineman in the run game.

Related: Las Vegas Raiders mock draft 2024: Building the team and finding a QB

Tyrice Knight, linebacker, UTEP

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If you examine Tom Telesco’s recent draft history, you’ll notice that he’s taken a linebacker in three of his last four classes with the Los Angeles Chargers

By the way, Telesco has drafted a handful of solid starting off-ball linebackers, including Denzel Perryman, Kyzir White, and Drue Tranquill.

Robert Spillane, Divine Deablo, Luke Masterson, and Darien Butler will all be unrestricted or restricted free agents in 2025. 

If the Raiders add a late-round linebacker, Tyrice Knight could be the pick who adds more athleticism to the group.

Knight is a charged-up defender who projects as a weak-side linebacker capable of leading the team in tackles behind the line of scrimmage. 

With Maxx Crosby and Christian Wilkins commanding most of the attention up front, Knight may be able to get to ball-carriers and quarterbacks untouched, using his ability to shoot through gaps and finish plays. 

Knight’s skill set should allow him to become an immediate contributor on special teams, but he has the upside to earn a starting role at linebacker because of his reliable tackling and decent ball production in coverage, with 16 pass breakups and two interceptions over the last three years.

Related: Las Vegas Raiders: Assessing urgency to fill top roster needs before the 2024 NFL Draft

Dwight McGlothern Jr., cornerback, Arkansas

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Fortunately for the Raiders, the 2024 class features a deep cornerback group.

Remember, as a general manager, Tom Telesco has only drafted a cornerback in the first round once in a decade.

If Telesco continues that trend, the Raiders may not address their cornerback need until the middle rounds of the draft. In the fourth or fifth round, Dwight McGlothern Jr. could be an ideal fit for the team’s needs on the boundary.

In two terms at LSU, McGlothern flashed a few times as a playmaker and then fully broke out over the last two years at Arkansas, logging 16 pass breakups and seven interceptions with the Razorbacks.

McGlothern will likely slide to the fourth or fifth round because he’s a slender cornerback (6-1, 185 pounds) who ranked 30th in athletic scores among prospects at his position.

However, McGlothern has a knack for reading the quarterback in zone coverage, and he can see a play develop before it happens, which allows him to make a jump on a ball in his area. 

With a 4.47-second 40-yard time, McGlothern isn’t slow; he just wins with anticipation more than athleticism, a trait that doesn’t fade with age or when a player faces tougher competition.

Maurice Moton covers the Las Vegas Raiders for Sportsnaut. You can follow him on Twitter at @MoeMoton.

Related: 2024 NFL mock draft: Vikings snag QB, Jets get a steal in April’s first-round projections

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