The Las Vegas Raiders have the most draft picks in the 2023 NFL Draft, with 12. Historically speaking, the Raiders haven’t had the best success drafting, no matter how many selections they may have. Remember Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock? Having five first-round picks in two years was supposed to be like stealing. As of now, only Josh Jacobs remains with the team, even though he hasn’t signed a franchise tender. But general manager Dave Ziegler is in his second draft on the job. What will he do? Will he draft twelve players or trade for more draft capital?
More picks? The trade conundrum looms heavy for the Raiders
By using the number seven selection as trade bait, Ziegler can trade back and acquire more picks. Ideally, in a perfect world, the Raiders would trade somewhere in the 10–18 range. They would acquire additional picks, perhaps a first-round swap, a second and/or third, maybe a fourth. Future draft picks could be in play, leaving the Raiders with 14 picks or more.
Increasing the odds in a craps game is usually a good thing. However, it doesn’t guarantee the Raiders a damn thing. The 1997 Miami Dolphins were the last team to draft 14 players; Sam Madison (44) and Jason Taylor (73) weren’t even first-round draft picks. For as good as they were, it was still just two diamonds in a whole lot of rough.
The new scouting department for the Raiders has been refined in its processes and includes the vision of the new top brass. Giving them more opportunities to earn their money should be a great indication of just where the franchise is headed. The plan up to this point has been to use free agency to stock the team with depth. Continue to develop young players and help them ascend into explosive players. Making the right picks is crucial, which is why they should consider…
Trading up gets less picks but better talent, in theory.
It’s no secret that the Raiders have their eyes on a couple players at the top of the draft. Should the top two picks break in favor of the Raiders, they have the opportunity to be patient and wait for pick seven or be aggressive and trade up. With 12 selections, the Raiders can afford to move up and down wherever they please. Major areas of concern could be addressed all over the place with 5-7 quality players.
Let’s be honest: for the folks who are part of the “trade for more picks” crowd, what’s the likelihood that the Raiders start 14 rookies in 2023? 10 rookies, eight rookies? If lucky, most good drafts yield 2–3 starters. Identifying multiple targets and particular draft slot ranges to make a solid trade is what the Raiders need from Ziegler.
A long list of needs…
A long-term solution at quarterback on a cheap rookie deal is how teams compete in today’s NFL. The most important position on the field has no clear-cut successor, and there are other holes in need of filling. The Raiders need impact players at the following positions: quarterback, defensive tackle, edge, tight end, safety, cornerback, guard, and linebackers inside and out.
Nine positions were just listed. So, out of 12 picks, you would think it would be a slam dunk. The best player available is a relatively easy place to be in terms of drafting. Provided the proper homework is done on every selection. Ziegler and assistant general manager Champ Kelly can prove to be brilliant tacticians and strategists by moving up and down in the draft to acquire targeted players.
*Top Photo: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
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