In most years, the elite talent in any particular draft is gone after the top 5-6 picks. 2018 isn’t most years. In previous years, prospects such as Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney were seen as locks to go in the top-three. While there are plenty of talented players in the upcoming draft, there is unpredictably as to which prospects will be taken in the top-ten due to these teams having many needs and a strong quarterback group. The result is that every one of the top positional players has a chance to be available when the Raiders select at ten overall.
Contributing to this is a top heavy quarterback class combined with plenty of teams having a need is creating a perfect storm that could see four, even potentially five quarterbacks selected in the top-ten of the 2018 NFL Draft, offering the Raiders the equivalent of a top-five pick.
The only four teams drafting ahead of the Raiders that are highly unlikely to pick a quarterback are the Buccaneers, Bears, and 49ers at picks 7-9. And it is a distinct possibility that one of those teams opts to trade back with a quarterback needy team such as the Buffalo Bills or Arizona Cardinals.
Every positional player, even Saquon Barkley, Bradley Chubb, and Minkah Fitzpatrick have a shot to still be on the board when Oakland picks. This creates a tough call, but also a good problem to have for the Raiders front office.
Here is a hypothetical big board of position players:
Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
Bradley Chubb, DE, N.C. State
Minkah Fitzpatrick, S, Alabama
Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame
Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
Vita Vea, DT, Washington
Derwin James, S, Florida State
Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan
Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA
Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
You get the picture. That is a lot of potential talent available at the tenth overall pick, and it leaves the Raiders with a bounty of riches from which to choose.
Perhaps even more significant than the plethora of options available is the fact that the Raiders can possibly select a top-five caliber talent, at a price slotted at the tenth overall pick.
Last year the Titans signed fifth overall pick Corey Davis to a four-year deal worth $25.4 million. Five picks later quarterback Patrick Mahomes was signed to a four-year contract worth $16.4 million by the Chiefs. That’s a swing of more than two million a year.
That is a significant difference considering the Raiders are about to become one of the most cash strapped teams in the NFL with Pro Bowlers Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper due for extensions. This means the Silver & Black will have to look towards the draft for value, and they can certainly find it this year if they land a top-five talent and pay them a contract slotted for the tenth overall pick.
Should the Raiders draft for immediate need? Or would they be better off picking the best player available? With this much talent available they may be able to do both. They could also consider a trade down with so many quality position players on the board. All good options.