The draft is just days away and the stakes are getting higher. Each team has long decided who their targets are by this point. The questions which remain are where in the draft they would be taken. Some of the top teams would like to trade down while other teams would like to trade up.
Saturday, rumors began swirling that the Raiders were more than willing to choose one of the top left tackles should they be available at the third overall pick. The thing is, the Raiders already have a very good left tackle in Jared Veldheer, so one of either Veldheer or the draft pick would have to move to the right side.
This move would either mean drafting a right tackle well before a right tackle should be chosen or alienating Veldheer in the final year of his contract and thereby signaling his leaving the team for a left tackle job elsewhere next season. Then the team would have to spend yet another high draft pick to replace him.
Now, a day after this buzz is swirling, the Jaguars have sent out the message to hungry NFL journalists that they would do the exact same thing. They too have a left tackle in place in former number 8 overall pick, Eugene Monroe. They clearly saw the rumors of the Raiders taking one of the top tackles and are saying to those teams looking to trade up "If you want one of the top two tackles, you will have to trade with us, not the Raiders because they will both be gone by the third pick."
This exact same thing happened last month when reports had the Raiders interested in Geno Smith at number three overall. Shortly thereafter, the Jaguars were suddenly VERY interested in Smith and he was going second overall on mock drafts all over the internet. Now, those looking for QB's like the Cardinals and Bills have filled those positions so Geno is no longer the topic of conversation. Funny how that works.
Left tackle has remained the hot position in this draft. There are two "can't miss" prospects in this draft in Luke Joeckel and Eric Fisher with a third top prospect -- Lane Johnson. The Chiefs appear set to take one of them - most likely Joeckel - at number one overall, which means teams will be clamoring to trade up for the other one and possibly Johnson as well. The left tackle class drops off considerably after those three.
Those teams who could be in the hunt to trade up for a left tackle are the Lions at 5, Cardinals at 7, Chargers at 11, and Dolphins at 12. If either the Raiders or the Jaguars can drum up enough interest in trading up, even the Lions at pick 5 might think there will be no top tier left tackle on the board at pick 5. Not because they think the Raiders or Jaguars will take one of them but because they think a team or multiple teams will trade ahead of them.
Feel free to take part in this little dance if you like. I'll sit this one out.