With the NFL draft just a day away, the Oakland Raiders are busy finalizing their draft boards and scouting out potential targets for trades to move around in the draft.
There are a lot of questions surrounding the team as many experts do not know what the Raiders are planning to do. They sit in a decent position in the first, as they have the ability to move down and add picks or stand pat and select a very talented player at the top of the draft.
Reggie McKenzie showed some of his player evaluation skills by adding some solid players in his first draft at the helm and will be looking for a repeat performance in year two. The Raiders have several priorities for it to be considered a successful draft. They should be looking to trade out of the number three slot and add more picks in the middle rounds, where the depth of this draft is considered to be. The Raiders also need to add picks in next year’s draft in order to take maximize their ability to grab the elite talent that will be available. The final priority is to keep adding to the foundation of their roster by adding players that are not afraid to come in and compete from day one.
1. The Raiders need to trade down in the first: Reggie McKenzie has been dealt an awful hand by the previous regime that tried to “win now”, while sacrificing the future health of the franchise. McKenzie is attempting to take the steps for a rebuild that should have come several seasons ago. The Raiders roster is full of holes and unknowns, especially on the defensive side of the ball. McKenzie has only seven selections in the entire draft and four of them come on day three. Adding more selections in this draft should be a priority for the Raiders’ front office. A way to restock the cupboards would be to flip the third overall pick in the draft for a selection in the middle or late first round. They would be able to get better value out of their first round selection, as this year’s draft is not the strongest at the top, and would be able to add a couple more selections in the middle rounds. While the top of the draft is not considered to be particularly strong; the rest of the draft is considered to be very deep, specifically along the defensive line.
The Raiders might have a tough time finding a trade partner that wants to move up in the draft. With the draft being light in the “can’t miss prospect” department, teams are looking to move down in the draft. The Raiders’ would have to hope that one of the top two offensive tackles, either Luke Joeckel or Eric Fisher, would be available as teams are rumored to be tempted to trade up for those two players. A rumor floating around is that the Miami Dolphins would be interested in moving into the third slot from the 12th pick, if one of those two players is available.
The Dolphins are looking to replace former pro bowler Jake Long at left tackle, so they may be more inclined to give the Raiders a better package of picks than other teams might be willing. A deal would revolve around the concept of the two teams swapping first round picks and then the Dolphins adding in a couple mid-round picks. Using the popular draft trade value chart, the Raiders third overall pick is worth 2,200 points. The Dolphins first at 12th overall is worth 1,200 points. The difference in points could be made in a package including the 42nd overall, 77th overall, and a 2nd round pick in 2014. This would address all the wants for the front office as they add that second round pick and add another pick in the top 100. It also allows then to stock up an additional pick in next year’s draft.
An interesting twist to this possible deal would be the Raiders then shopping the 12th overall pick to the Niners, who have been rumored to be looking to jump in the early teens to grab an impact defensive lineman. This move would possibly involve the Niners sending the Raiders picks number 61, 74, and possibly a day three pick to swap picks in the first round. These two moves would increase the Raiders amount of top 100 draft picks from three to seven by adding four picks in the second and third rounds.
2. Add more picks in next year’s draft: The Raiders should definitely look to try to parlay those added middle picks into picks for the next year’s draft. I am not suggesting that throwing away those picks just solely for picks next year, but using trade downs to the later parts of rounds to add picks for next year. Next year’s draft class looks to be stronger, especially at the top end of the draft with the all-world talent Jadeveon Clowney likely being available. The quarterback class next year is predicted to a lot stronger as well with players like Aaron Murray, Tajh Boyd, and Teddy Bridgewater. Also available is probably the most electrifying player in college football in Marquise Lee. Adding picks in next years draft would allow the Raiders to put themselves in position to be able to trade up and grab one of these potential franchise type players to build around.
3. Don’t go swinging for the fences every time: There is a thought in baseball that you cannot go up to the plate looking to hit home runs every at bat and that you should just be looking to make solid contact as that will be more successful the majority of the time. This is the mindset the Raiders need heading in to the draft. They need to avoid looking to catch lightning in a bottle with high risk picks. They need to add players that are not the flashiest of players, but will come in and play solid football from day one.
Raiders’ Owner Mark Davis has said they want to model their rebuild after what the Niners have done across the bay. A lot of what the Niners have done is built their foundation upon a bunch of unsung heroes mixed in with their super star players. Players like Delanie Walker, Bruce Miller, and Ray McDonald do not get the publicity that other players do, but they are a big reason the Niners have been successful. They add players that are “football players”. The Raiders added some solid talent with the late rounds picks in 2012 with Tony Bergstrom, Miles Burris, and Juron Criner. They need to look to continue to add solid talent that can grow together and look to create long term success for the franchise.
The Raiders’ 2013 draft looks to be a turning point for the franchise. McKenzie has his hands full as he tries to add talent to a depleted roster with so few selections. Adding picks in the mid-rounds will allow him to add players that could come in and provide impact on the field and depth to the roster. They should also look to plan ahead and add picks in next year’s draft to go after some of the top level talent that is available in the draft. They will also look to add “football players” that will build the foundation of their roster as the move forward away from the salary cap hell they have be entrenched in for the last several seasons.