Raider Nation, be prepared for all eventualities. That’s the best way to approach the upcoming 2023 NFL Draft. We’re a week away from the league’s annual event, and as you’ve probably seen, the predictions are as plentiful as the rumors. More so when it comes to the Las Vegas Raiders.
Thus, don’t be surprised by what the team does during the three-day draft.
The team has charted a course with “Los Capitanes” Dave Ziegler and Josh McDaniels at the helm. The general manager and head coach, respectively, are entrusted with steering the Silver and Black back towards greatness by owner Mark Davis, something the squad hasn’t navigated very well. The Bowl Cut Kid very much wants a winner and is exercising patience. Thus, the Zigs and Joshy Poo are going to get the bandwidth to go about their work—deliberately.
And I get the anger—I really do.
Raider Nation is very loyal—almost to a fault—and is as eager to see a successful team as the owner, if not more so. One of the integral parts of the season that will help the Raiders turn the tide from impotence to excellence is that Ziegler, McDaniels, and the rest of the Raiders scouting staff and personnel crew must do well in rounds one through seven of the draft. Now, will a team hit on all 12 picks? Hell. No. I’m not obtuse. No team will hit on every single draft pick.
The team must get a better return on investment (ROI) on its draft selections, especially the higher-round ones. Fundamentally, a team gets high draft picks because its squad is bad — atrocious even. And the ability to pick earlier in the draft is designed to improve that and give teams the chance to become good.
More “misses than hits” for the Raiders
The Raiders haven’t been able to do that. You’ve likely read all the draft misfire pieces. You can recite the draft busts by not only name, but height, weight, speed, position, and school, no?
Fortunately for Ziegler, the Silver and Black’s bar is set remarkably low. Which means he can operate with impunity during the draft, especially the first round.
If the Raiders trade up or trade down in the opening round, don’t be surprised.
If the Raiders stay put at No. 7 and make a selection, don’t be surprised.
If the Raiders select an offensive player, don’t be surprised.
If the Raiders select a defender, don’t be surprised.
This is a byproduct of Ziegler’s and McDaniels’ roster needing additional talent at multiple spots. Outside of Daniel Carlson (kicker), AJ Cole III (punter), Kolton Miller (left tackle), Davante Adams (wide receiver), Josh Jacobs (running back — if he returns), quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, and Maxx Crosby (defensive end), the Raiders need more stalwarts.
Dave Ziegler is in dire need of more stalwarts!
Las Vegas is in dire need of some serious talent infusion that offers youthful exuberance and explosion to a roster that’s devoid of it. Without question, the defense needs some serious prospects who can get to the quarterback and get their hands on the ball, as McDaniels and Ziegler noted. So, snagging a pass rusher (edge or interior) or a defensive back (cornerback who can take away the ball and cover) at the seven spot seems highly probable.
But if a quarterback — Ohio State’s CJ Stroud — remains on the board after the Houston Texans make the second-overall pick, don’t be shocked if the Raiders trade up to three to snag him. That’s not as probable as staying put at seven, but you can’t eliminate the possibility altogether.
Then there’s the matter of trading down. That, like trading up, requires two interested parties willing to work out a deal. The Raiders need another team that wants to go up to seven for a prospect, first and foremost. If that doesn’t happen, then expect Ziegler to make a pick at seven.
Oh, here’s another item that Raider Nation shouldn’t be surprised about: When the draft comes and goes and the picks are heavily slanted towards the offense, I mean, the head coach is an offensive-minded type, and while Ziegler has the final say on the roster, McDaniels and him are close friends going back to college.
There’s going to be some sway there.
But perhaps if Ziegler and McDaniels steer the Silver and Black towards success and together they build a roster that has not only solid starters but quality competition and depth, then perhaps the “all eventualities” line drops off. By that point, we should see a clear linear path the Raiders are embarking on.
Until then, be prepared for all possible jolts next weekend.
Outsiders Edge: Las Vegas Raiders Day 3 picks will be just as important as top selections