Trade back in the draft? B/R reports the Raiders are more likely to move back than up in the draft. Sure, why not? Move up and get Justin Herbert, Tua Tagovialoa or Jordan Love, if you love them and think they are the guy. The point is, any situation is in play for the Raiders.
Imagine trading up for Isaiah Simmons or Jeff Okudah? Grabbing the top defensive player at positions of needs is hard to pass up. Or better yet, the odd scenario one of the most pro-ready defensive prospects is available when the Raiders pick. The Raiders set themselves up perfectly to select the best player available in the upcoming NFL Draft.
How about continuing to build upfront? Pick up Tristan Wirfs, whose profile could make him a generational guard. You could also draft Javon Kinlaw or find an answer at receiver with Jerry Jeudy or Ceedee Lamb.
Las Vegas put every 2020 NFL Draft scenario into play because they addressed many needs in free agency. They did not show their cards by neglecting any team needs. Now, they have the luxury to do whatever they want on draft day. They are always the biggest wild card on Draft Day, but this year they will be an even bigger wild card since they addressed most of their needs in free agency.
No, the Raiders did not sign the best players at all their positions of needs. They didn’t even really attack their needs, in the same way, I would have as they ignored many players on my lists. However, they did sign players with versatility and starting experience which puts them in the perfect place to draft the best player available.
It sounds cliche. Obviously, you always want to get the best player with any draft pick. However, timing and personality come into the picture with traits, team needs, and production. You want to get a player who can help you as well as one you can put in the best spot to win when you think about developing players. The Raiders free agency success gives them the luxury of adding the most talent in the draft, instead of having to worry about filling needs.
This free agency class features players who can start or at least compete for starting reps. That gives Vegas added flexibility in the draft. The Raiders should get the player who can help them out the most. They should get the player with the most immediate talent and upside. They need playmakers and game changers on both sides of the ball.
A big-play receiver and a ballhawk on defense are both needed. You could argue they still need a quarterback, backup running back and some depth on both lines. How they get all that is up in the air but what they do won’t be influenced by missing on a need in free agency. Thus, Vegas can trade back and get a player who might need some development or they might trade up and get someone to impact the position groups immediately.
Last year, the Raiders went more with players with intangibles. They went after productive players and pieces of winning programs to lay the foundation. This year, they need to add explosive talent around those guys. Again, they have flexibility with how they do that thanks to their success addressing needs in free agency.
They signed Cory Littelton and Nick Kwiatkoski to fill their need for coverage backers. Demarious Randle and Jeff Heath give them added versatility in the secondary. Carl Nassib and Maliek Collins are two pass rushers on the right side of thirty with abilities to play across the line. All that pretty much provides the baseline to fill the Raiders’ holes on defense and gives them flexibility to add a playmaker in the front-seven or secondary.
On offense, they added Marcus Mariota the quarterback with starting experience and traits to beat out, backup or replace Derek Carr. They added a receiver to push Hunter Renfrow in the slot and Tyrell Williams onside with Nelson Agholor. Jason Witten gives them an added red zone target and blocking tight end. Again, they need to add some talent to the group but the basis is covered with the latest free agency haul.
Essentially, whatever the Raiders add in the draft is a bonus since they already set the foundation with last year’s draft and free agency and found solid complimentary fillers in this year’s free agency. Vegas gets the opportunity to add more pillars with their five picks in the first three rounds. Granted, the Raiders will need to use those five pillars wisely. They still need talent if they want to contend. Nonetheless, there’s no telling how they will use any of those picks because there is no glaring need they did not at least try to address already in free agency.
This is much better than in years past when the Raiders needed to fill roster gaps and find talent in the draft because they splurged on one player or didn’t splurge enough in free agency. It put tons of pressure to get every pick 100 percent right. They needed to find a player who could both help them immediately and develop into long-term success. Those expectations rarely pan out. At least this time, they can focus on finding the right talent whether that means trading up or down or making the selection.
Wait and See
Ultimately, the Raiders are the NFL Draft’s biggest wildcard, thanks to the draft capital they hold as well as how they addressed most of their needs in free agency. This gives them the luxury to trade back, trade up, select the best player available or reach for a player they really like. It’s hard to predict what the Raiders plan on draft day because they did not show their hand in free agency by ignoring any of their needs.