All the prognostication, the predictions, the simulations and mock drafts will come to an end next week! Well, at least, on April 28, when Mr. Irrelevant — the last pick — is announced during the NFL draft.
For three glorious days, the league’s ever-growing spectacle will put the most die-hard and hardcore fans in a trance. How else do you think the league managed to bamboozle networks to spreading the draft over the course of three days? It will be a state of bliss for many.
Raider Nation is no different.
There will be plenty eating up the Gruden-McKenzie Experience. It’ll be on full display April 26, when the Oakland Raiders are on officially on the clock with the 10th overall pick. The intrigue and mystery of how head coach Jon Gruden and general manager Reggie McKenzie blend creates some wild draft thoughts:
- Trade up: Highly unlikely, as Gruden seems to have the same sentiment when it comes to draft capital, attain more picks than give away. Still, it sure would be a Gruden move to climb the pick ladder and take running back Saquon Barkley.
- Trade down: There’s some quarterback-needy teams that could get antsy and desperate and move up to the 10th pick. Here’s an outlandish scenario — New England wants to move up and offers the Raiders its two first rounders (23 and 31) and tight end Rob Gronkowski. There’s grumblings Gronk is going to be moved.
- On the offensive: Impact defender seems to be the destined pick at No. 10, but would it stick in your craw if the Raiders took an offensive player? A wide receiver or offensive lineman, perhaps.
- Conventional wisdom: An overwhelming majority of mock drafts peg the Raiders taking linebacker Roquan Smith. Taking a linebacker at 10 would be wild because it’s the pick that makes sense. Of course, the 49ers could also snag Smith or Tremaine Edmunds due to Reuben Foster’s legal woes.
- Defense it is: Linebacker or interior pass rusher. The Raiders should be able to land a prime prospect in either position at 10. But, would taking another safety or cornerback high in the draft placate fans desperate for a demonstrative defense?
- Reach around: The Raiders could nab defensive tackles Vita Vea or Maurice Hurst, or edge rushers Marcus Davenport or Harold Landry at 10. All of those prospects would be considered “reaches” by some.
- Carr insurance?: The ultimate wild scenario is Gruden taking a QB in the first three rounds of the draft. A late-round pick (4-7) is more reasonable.
Time to run the Quick Slants:
- McKenzie is a firm believer in the best player available (BPA) philosophy. And that means his/or Gruden’s BPA. That’ll likely vastly differ from other evaluators.
- During McKenzie’s reign as supreme personnel man, the Raiders’ eventual first-round pick didn’t visit. Does that change with Gruden as the ultimate roster voice?
- Don’t be surprised if the Raiders take a punter in the later rounds. Special teams coach (and Gruden’s top lieutenant) Rich Bisaccia has a lot of sway in Oakland.
- Gruden has made it a point to exhibit his displeasure with the depth at wide receiver. The Raiders likely address that issue with a Day 2 (second or third round) pick.
- The perfect soundtrack to the draft angst? The Fugees’ “Ready Or Not”
- Like Gruden eloquently stated, the Raiders need to get more productivity from prior draft picks.
- Draft picks pan out, Gruden gets the credit. Said selections fail and the blame will fall on McKenzie.