Of all the hypotheticals, none is more hypothetical than the question of whether Oakland should trade the No. 4 pick. Surely there is a package out there that would make any team trade their pick, and — realistic or not — we have to be clear when we say that it's impossible to know what is and isn't a plausible option.
The idea with this piece is more to ask the question about whether trading down in the draft (presumably) is something Oakland should be actively pursuing. At No. 4, Oakland could set up their draft board and guarantee themselves one of the top four players, and so the question is, how does the option to trade stack up with those four guys?
Is there a line on the board that says if players X and Y are gone, we'll explore a trade? Is there a line on the board that says, if player X or Y is still available, we're hanging up the phones and picking them anyways?
Let's see what our writers think...
On Monday afternoon, ESPN's Bill Williamson drew up a meaningless piece proposing (seemingly without any real information indicating this was a reasonable thought) that Oakland could trade their No. 4 pick to the Browns in a package that might net them Cleveland's two first round picks.
Of course, this type of trade would be fantastic and would be something I would jump at in a heart beat, but my problem is with playing the game of guessing what teams would be interested in moving up, making up some fake trade and then dispensing it as if it's plausible.
Could it happen? Sure. Will it happen? It doesn't seem any more likely than the other bogus rumor of Oakland trading up to the No. 2 pick to get Leonard Williams.
So back to the question: if I'm Reggie McKenzie, am I actively seeking a trade partner to move down in the draft and acquire more picks?
For me, the answer to this question is rooted in one simple truth: the Oakland Raiders need a lot of help. Yes, an elite wide receiver is badly needed — as is an elite defensive lineman. But so is some talent in the defensive backfield, on the offensive line and maybe even in the backfield.
In my opinion, if Oakland gets the opportunity to stockpile picks — either 2015 or even 2016 draft picks — in exchange for the No. 4 pick, I say go for it. I'm not going to throw out potential trade packages because I simply don't know who is interested in what, but I'm simply saying that if the opportunity to add 2-3 really good players (even if it's over two years) comes about in exchange for getting one elite player, I say go for it.
The biggest question I have asked myself during this draft process is if Leonard Williams falls to the Raiders, should they pick him or trade back? While they couldn't go wrong either way, they would be better suited trading back if the price is right.
With the addition of Dan Williams in free agency, the Raiders are solid at defensive tackle with Williams and Justin Ellis, but drafting Leonard Williams would be a good move if he falls, considering he's the best player in the 2015 NFL Draft and could play defensive end for the Raiders.
Another scenario the Raiders should look to trade down is if Williams isn't there. In that case, Amari Cooper should be their next target, and if they can't find a reasonable offer, he should be the pick. But if the Raiders trade back into the 7-10 range, they would likely be able to land either Cooper or Kevin White (whichever falls), meaning they get their number one receiver along with additional picks they can use to address other needs.
The key with trading back though is there has to be a good offer on the table, otherwise they should stay at number four overall and take either Williams or Cooper.
There are a number of scenarios in which the Raiders absolutely ought to trade their pick:
Scenario #1: Leonard Williams is taken by Tennessee second overall. The Jaguars take their annual laughter, and Marcus Mariota is there at number four. In this situation, there are four or five teams which would seek to jump above the Redskins and Jets to get Mariota. I could see Cleveland, Chicago, Arizona, Philadelphia and Houston being interested in Mariota, and a few of those teams might give up the moon to get him.
Philadelphia is always looking to wheel and deal, and might give a Ricky Williams package to get up to fourth overall. Cleveland may have seen enough of Juan De La Futbol's shenanigans and they have two first rounders. Reggie can play all these teams against each other and take the best deal available. It should include at least two first and two second rounders, and possibly more. Any less for Mariota would be uncivilized.
Scenario #2: The Titans take Mariota and then the Jaguars ruin everything by taking Leonard Williams. The Raiders could take Kevin White or Amari Cooper, but it's likely that if they trade down a few spots that one or both of them will still be there. Some team in the top ten may be hot for Dante Fowler, Randy Gregory or Brandon Scherff. They may not want to risk sitting behind the Redskins and Jets. Or they may want one of the wideouts specifically. Either way, the Raiders can move down five or six positions and still get a quality player plus some great assets for the future.
Scenario #3: The Raiders fall head over heels for Leonard Williams and are convinced the Titans will take him. They package some later-round selections and move up to #2. They should not give up any picks in 2016, but should use this year's picks only. They plug in Leonard Williams at DT for the next ten years and Khalil Mack becomes Derrick Thomas. The Raiders win all the games forever, Amen.
Marcus Allen Krause
I am a believer in the trade down strategy more times than not, because it just makes sense to get as many high draft picks as possible. In this draft the only prospect that I wouldn't rather trade down on is Leonard Williams out of USC. There are plenty of good players that fit needs for the Raiders, so they can trade down and get a needed player from almost any spot in the first round so it just makes sense to trade.
The only player that is too good to pass up at a need position is the before mentioned Leonard Williams. If he is still there at 4 then you pull the trigger and walk away thrilled. He is the one player that you just can't pass up on. The need to get a dominate DE/DT like Williams, and the luxury of pairing a player of Williams' quality with Khalil Mack is simply too powerful of an addition not to pull the trigger on. When you add in that Leonard Williams truly wants to be a Raider it makes it a no-brainer to select him and not trade down.
Despite how good Amari Cooper and Kevin White have the chance to be, there are still other really good prospects at WR to make the decision to draft either of them instead of trade down. Same thing with the likes of Danny Shelton (who I like a lot) and Randy Gregory (who I would like if not for off-field concerns), there are just too many solid options at their positions to deny a trade for them. Shelton and Gregory are very good, but they are not quite at the level of Leonard Williams, who I don't advise passing on.
If Leonard Williams is gone, trading back is the choice to make if it's available. No doubt in my mind, the ability to get multiple high picks outweighs every other player choice except for the behemoth from USC. There is a chance that Leonard will be there and then that is the pick to make, but trading back trumps every other available player.
So many variables when considering this option. For instance if they were to trade down outside the top ten to pick up a second round pick as they did in 2013, I would say absolutely not. Everyone has their ideal scenarios that all suggest there is always a deal out there that would make it worth trading down. Everyone wants more picks, right? The cost is the question. It would depend on who is on the board, how far down they trade, and what they get back in return. I mean consider for a moment if the Raiders were to trade down instead of taking Khalil Mack. Would you rather have him or fill two needs? That is an easy answer. You take Mack then and you REALLY take Mack now.
For the Raiders' purposes, if they were to trade down inside the top ten, they would potentially have three picks in the top 40. With needs still at several positions including glaring needs at DE, WR, and OG, having an extra pick inside the top 40 and still having a top ten pick would help a great deal in filling all three of those needs.
This scenario is like asking to buy something from someone who is not selling. You get someone desperate enough and/or put enough money on the table and anything is for sale. Whether the Raiders are desperate or other teams will be putting a lot on the table to get their pick will depend very much on who is still on the board and if there is a player worth more to the Raiders or the teams looking to deal. I don't think the Raiders will get a deal that will be better than the player at the top of their board and say...