If you go take a look at the myriad mock drafts around this month, you’ll find a fair share of them that have the Raiders doing something absurd- trading up to the first pick overall and taking Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray. That’s the very definition of clickbait, and while I wouldn’t by any means put it past Jon Gruden to do that, I find it highly unlikely.
But the prospect of the Raiders trading up is one I find slightly more likely. For much of last season, the Raiders had one of the worst records in football and were pegged in many very early mock drafts to have the number one pick overall and take Nick Bosa. He was the top prospect then and, despite his injury, has done nothing to dissuade anyone of the notion that he’s the top pass rusher in this draft. There’s been plenty of speculation around here the Raiders could trade down, but not so much about trading up, as the Raiders had too many holes to fill. Is that really true anymore, after free agency?
There are two facts that lead me to believe that trading up is a plausible scenario for the Raiders. First is the fact that the team drafting second overall, the 49ers, has taken three defensive linemen in the past four drafts, and signed Dee Ford a few weeks ago. Do they really want to take another lineman, or would they rather trade out for more draft capital and fill some of their needs on offense, such as receiver where they have essentially nothing?
The second fact is that the Raiders need a premier pass rusher more than anyone else in the draft, and have more ammunition to move up than any other team in the draft. If we assume the draft goes like we think without any trades, then Kyler Murray and Nick Bosa are the top two projected players off the board. That leaves Josh Allen and Quinnen Williams for the Jets to choose from. Would the Raiders be comfortable taking whomever is left? Williams might be the best overall player in the draft and is no “consolation prize”, but there’s no guarantee that the Raiders would be able to get another premier edge rusher even later in the first round. Montez Sweat, Brian Burns and Clelin Ferrell could all be off the board. What then?
If they decide Bosa or Allen is “their guy”, then they shouldn’t wait around and hope. They should be decisive and aggressive and go get him. With only three defensive ends on the roster in Arden Key, Josh Mauro and new AAF signing Alex Barrett, they need to get one of these top players desperately.
San Francisco has traded down from the second pick before, quite recently in fact. In 2016 they traded down from Pick 2 to Pick 3 with the Chicago Bears, who wanted to secure their quarterback in Mitch Trubisky. People panned that trade at the time, but Chicago at least has their franchise QB now, and it looks like a decent trade at this point with Chicago being a playoff team.
The Bears gave up the third pick and three mid-round picks to secure Trubisky, and I can’t imagine it would take much more than that to move up from four to two this year. Picks 4 and 35 might get it done, plus perhaps a sixth this year or next. The Raiders would have their pass rusher and still have two more picks in the top 27 in that scenario. A trade with the Jets to Pick 3 might be even less costly, as the Jets could definitely use both a DE and a DT.
Picking at four is an incredibly risky situation for the Raiders when the two players they really need, Bosa and Allen, are considered top-three prospects. That risk becomes even greater if the Cardinals were to pass on Murray for some reason and pick Bosa instead. Trading down is all well and good when you have many holes to fill and aren’t picky, but this is one year when perhaps the Raiders can and should be very picky indeed.
Should the Raiders look at trading up in the draft?
This poll is closed
No, take whoever is left at Pick 4
Yes, with the 49ers
Yes, with the Jets
No, trade down instead