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Defense beckons for Raiders in draft

NFL Network draft guru Mike Mayock usually has a pretty good handle on where the quarterbacks are headed in the NFL draft.

The Raiders have so many defensive needs — remember, they have Khalil Mack and still finished last in the NFL in sacks last season — and they could use an additional player in the first three or four rounds.

Clemson’s Deshaun Watson and Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes both have issues — and big fans as well — and there is a chance that Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer and Cal’s Davis Webb could sneak into the first round.

Assuming the addition of another offensive player (Marshawn Lynch)

Wednesday only further underlined the need for a defensive starter in the first round, here’s a look at positions in need of an upgrade:

Alabama’s Reuben Foster will slide because of a diluted drug test, after he was already sent home from the NFL combine for arguing with a hospital worker.

NFL Films producer Greg Cosell said he not only sees a lot of former 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis in Foster’s game, but also that Foster is a “more naturally athletic mover than Willis.”

Cornerback: USC’s Adoree’ Jackson is small but can cover and would step in immediately as a starting slot cornerback.


Raiders reach deals with Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks

In a nice going-away present for Raiders fans, Marshawn Lynch has agreed to terms on a contract that will bring the running back out of retirement to play for his hometown team.

The Raiders, who will move to Las Vegas in 2020, acquired Lynch’s rights by agreeing to trade late-round picks with Seattle in 2018, and Lynch passed a physical at the Raiders’ facility Wednesday morning.

Lynch replaces Latavius Murray, who signed with the Vikings, and will join Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington at running back.

Lynch, a five-time Pro Bowler, has not played since a Jan. 17, 2016, playoff loss to Carolina in which he gained only 20 yards on six carries.

[...] he still has 66 more broken tackles than the next closest running back in the NFL over the past four seasons.

Lynch’s new teammates are very excited about the news, with linebacker and former Seattle teammate Bruce Irvin tweeting, “Woke up feeling like it was Christmas.”

“Marshawn is one of the best running backs I’ve played against in my short career,” Raiders defensive end Khalil Mack said last week.

In nine NFL seasons, Lynch has rushed for 9,112 yards and 74 touchdowns.

[...] in 2015, he was limited to seven regular-season games and 417 yards and the postseason loss to the Panthers, largely because of an abdominal injury that required surgery.

Lynch visited the Raiders on April 5, and the only team he wanted to play for again was his mom’s favorite team.

The Raiders will give the Seahawks a fifth-round pick in 2018 in exchange for a sixth-round pick.

After attending Oakland Technical High School, Lynch played three seasons at Cal and ran for 1,000 yards in both 2005 and 2006, being named the Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year in 2006.

Marshawn Lynch is peak Bay Area in tweet about return to Oakland

Beast Mode Marshawn Lynch wrote about trade with the Oakland Raiders on Wednesday, and it did not disappoint.

Plenty of options for Raiders with 24th pick in draft

[...] general managers and scouts write players’ names on the team’s draft board, so obviously their favorites are going to be ranked higher than players who might have produced more or had a better pro day.

The Raiders could use a really good inside linebacker, but they could look at their board and decide to wait rather than take one with the 24th overall pick Thursday night.

If the draft went solely on measurements, Michigan State defensive tackle Malik McDowell would be a top-10 pick.

McDowell did not fare well at interviews at the NFL combine, according to personnel executives, and some questioned whether he really likes football.

McDowell is quite the piece of clay with which to work, one who already has the skill to beat one-on-one blocks and get inside pressure on the quarterback.

“I think he might be the most talented interior defensive lineman,” ESPN analyst Todd McShay said.

Washington’s Kevin King, meanwhile, could be the man at 24 if Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie goes for a defensive back.

King might be too big to play slot anymore, but there is a corner on the first-round board who scouts think can be plugged in right away against receivers lined up inside.

[...] he has hands for the ball, too, as he also started one game at receiver for the Trojans, the first time a player started both ways for USC since the 1960s.

6 inside-linebacker possibilities for Raiders’ draft

With success on the field comes lower NFL draft picks.

“The one thing that’s been more difficult, you have no idea who’s coming down at 24,” Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie said of his team’s draft spot.

Raiders fans might scream at memories of another Alabama linebacker — 2010 bust Rolando McClain — but Foster is more explosive.

Florida’s Jarrad Davis (6-1, 238): He can run (4.56 40-yard), even after missing the last four games last season with an ankle injury.

Davis also can finish tackles, and coaches and scouts love his personality and have him pegged as a future leader.

Raiders fans might scream, “Can he cover the tight end?” No, that is not a current strength.

“He had an elite workout at his pro day and I think it just helped solidify everything that you see on tape,” ESPN analyst Todd McShay said.

Ohio State’s Raekwon McMillan is considered the next best inside linebacker, but he plays small despite being 6-2, 240 and is not the name to remember — that’s Alex Anzalone, Davis’ teammate at Florida.

If McKenzie decides to get a much-needed defensive lineman or cornerback in the first round, he might look to Anzalone as his next inside linebacker in the second or third round.

With his long blonde hair, he stood out at the Senior Bowl, and then showed his physicality and smarts all week at practice, capping off the week with four tackles (one for loss) in the game.

“You saw at (Senior Bowl) practice how gifted he is athletically,” an NFC personnel director told NFL.com.

Raiders have done due diligence with Joe Mixon

Will they draft a running back if he doesn’t?

Oakland general manager Reggie McKenzie is waiting for a decision from Lynch, as he is not planning to pay the retired running back more than $3 million per year plus incentives, league sources said.

Lynch isn’t too keen on taking less than half the $9 million he was due to make in 2017 on his old contract with the Seahawks.

McKenzie hasn’t shown a willingness to use early round picks on running backs.

Considered by some the best running back in the draft, Mixon may be available when Oakland picks 24th in the second round because he was caught on video punching a woman in 2014.

While Raiders owner Mark Davis has made his stance against domestic violence clear, Mixon’s handlers and the league have been careful to call his incident an “assault” as he and his victim were not in a relationship and were arguing when she pushed him.

McKenzie visited with Mixon twice in March — at his pro day, as he wasn’t invited to the NFL combine, and again at the Raiders’ facility.

The Raiders are tight lipped about pre-draft visits and don’t usually talk about prospects, so they are likely giving fans a chance to wrap their heads around the idea of drafting the player in that video from the restaurant.

“When stuff like this happens, whether it’s domestic violence or drunken driving, whatever issue that comes up, we’ll be prepared to answer questions,” McKenzie said.

On the field, the 6-foot-1, 226-pound Mixon led Oklahoma to two Big 12 championships and most scouts and analysts agree he would be a top-20 draft pick on the football tape alone.

“Without a doubt the best running back in this year’s class,” former Raiders running back and NFL Network analyst Maurice Jones-Drew said.

If Mixon is gone by the time they pick in the second round or the Raiders decide to pass on him, there are plenty of other running backs available.

On average, between six and seven running backs have been drafted in the first three rounds in each of the past five years, but scouts think 11 or 12 will go this year.

Oklahoma’s Samaje Perine (5-foot-11, 233 pounds), who broke Billy Sims’ school rushing record, Texas’ D’Onta Foreman (6-foot, 233 pounds), who is faster than Perine but injury-prone, and Toledo’s Kareem Hunt (5-11, 216), who was a Senior Bowl standout, are all second- or third-round possibilities.

Round 1, 5 p.m. Thursday; Rounds 2-3, 4 p.m. Friday; Rounds 4-7, 9 a.m. Saturday ESPN or ESPN2, NFL Network

Raiders picks (round, overall selection): 1, 24; 2, 56; 3, 88; 4, 130; 5, 168; 6, 208; 7, 242; 7, 244

Raiders GM outlines team’s draft strategy

Raiders GM outlines team’s draft strategy

The way the Raiders’ brass tells it, the team officials and coaches might as well all wear “Best Player Available” buttons when the NFL draft starts Thursday.

Never mind that Oakland was 26th in the NFL in defense last year and added only one defensive player in free agency, as opposed to four on offense.

C’mon … it has to be “Best Defensive Player Available” when Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie is on the clock with the 24th overall pick.

Richard ran for 491 yards and caught 29 passes for 194 more in his rookie season.

The Raiders need a similar jolt on defense and have big needs at defensive line, linebacker and in the secondary, as defensive end Khalil Mack and linebacker Bruce Irvin were the only consistent playmakers last season.

McKenzie and Del Rio said they have been having a ball the past few months, talking to scouts, watching videoand coming up with projections for players who can help the team build off a 12-4, playoff season.

The Raiders added two likely starters and two backups to a sixth-ranked offense during the free agency.

Oakland could lure running back Marshawn Lynch out of retirement to replace Latavius Murray, or look to add another back in the draft, to go with Richard and DeAndre Washington.

On defense, Oakland added linebacker Jelani Jenkins, who over the past three seasons started 34 games for the Dolphins.

Whether they’re in this draft or postdraft or trade, somebody gets released, we’re going to do everything we can to upgrade our team; every position, including linebacker.

The Raiders need more push up the middle, especially after releasing Dan Williams.

Besides Justin Ellis and undrafted surprise Darius Latham, Oakland has only ends who can play inside in Mario Edwards, Denico Autry and Jihad Ward.

Reggie McKenzie doesn’t believe in using high picks on inside linebackers, going for the late value-pick or older plug-in in free agency in his tenure.

The Raiders need a slot cornerback, with the departure of 2013 first-round pick DJ Hayden, and those aren’t big shoes to fill.

Raiders’ McKenzie sees draft as deadline for signing Lynch

Retired running back Marshawn Lynch is still negotiating with Oakland, and general manager Reggie McKenzie said Friday that he would prefer to get the deal done by the time the draft begins Thursday.

Lynch, an Oakland native, visited McKenzie and coach Jack Del Rio two weeks ago, and should a contract be worked out, a trade with Seattle for his rights is expected to be a formality.

“I think every indication I got is he was excited to play for the Oakland Raiders,” Del Rio said Friday at a predraft news conference.

Free-agent running backs Adrian Peterson, Jamaal Charles and LeGarrette Blount remain on the market.

Lynch would have to file for reinstatement by the NFL once a contract is finalized, and that could happen after the Raiders trade for his rights.

McKenzie echoed Derek Carr’s statements, saying “I feel good” about getting the quarterback’s contract extension done before training camp.

Smith, who hasn’t played since November 2015 because he violated the league’s substance abuse policy, has had a hard time staying out of the news.

On March 9, he was detained at a San Francisco police station for public intoxication, and he gave a regrettable slurred television interview when his handlers didn’t pick him up.

Raiders to play 5 prime-time games, Niners 1

Raiders to play 5 prime-time games, Niners 1

The Raiders, coming off a 12-4 season, are a hot commodity, so much so that they were selected for a franchise-record five prime-time games when the NFL schedule was announced Thursday.

Oakland has three Sunday night games, including one at home against the Dallas Cowboys on Dec. 17.

The Raiders also host a Thursday night game against the Kansas City Chiefs on Oct. 19.

The other three nationally televised games are Sept. 24 at Washington, Nov. 5 at Miami and a Monday night game in Philadelphia on Christmas.

The 49ers will not play on Sunday night or Monday night in Kyle Shanahan’s first year as head coach.

San Francisco’s only prime-time appearance is Thursday, Sept. 21, against former Cal quarterback Jared Goff and the Los Angeles Rams in Santa Clara.

The 49ers open at home against the Carolina Panthers on Sept. 10.

The Raiders start on the road against the Titans, as Oakland tries to win in Nashville for the third season in a row.

Oakland plays its home opener the following week against the Jets.

The Raiders volunteered to travel to Mexico City for a second straight season and will play Super Bowl champ New England there Nov. 19.

Vic Tafur is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer.

Email: vtafur@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @VicTafur

Raiders schedule

Opponent

N.Y. Jets

L.A. Chargers

N.Y. Giants

@L.A. Chargers

49ers schedule

Opponent

L.A. Rams

N.Y. Giants

@L.A. Rams

Raiders exercise option on Mack

In the easiest decision that general manager Reggie McKenzie has made, the Raiders exercised their option for the fifth year of defensive end Khalil Mack’s contract in 2018.

McKenzie is first focused on new deals for quarterback Derek Carr and guard Gabe Jackson, who unlike Mack were not first-round picks and are entering the last year of their contracts.

The Raiders have $28 million in salary-cap space and plan to resume talks with Carr after next week’s NFL Draft.