The Las Vegas Raiders’ new general manager Dave Ziegler has done well during his first few months on the job. The Raiders and Ziegler were widely considered big winners during free agency as they were able to trade for Davante Adams, sign Chandler Jones and extend in-house Pro Bowlers Maxx Crosby and Derek Carr.
However, NFL general managers aren’t just judged by free agency and one could argue that the great ones are the ones who can crush it during the NFL Draft.
Ziegler will get a chance to prove his mettle in less than a week, but the rookie GM will be starting behind the eightball as the Adams trade cost him the team’s first two draft picks. It’s not that the Raiders can’t find a staring-quality player in the mid-rounds, Crosby was a fourth-round pick, Hunter Renfrow a fifth and Divine Deablo a third, but it’s undoubtedly going to be a challenge.
“We embrace that pressure,” Ziegler said during his pre-draft press conference. “We enjoy it. It’s part of the allure, I think, of this profession for a lot of people that get into it as the youth thrive and you want that pressure because it’s exciting.”
“When you find players in the mid-rounds that ultimately develop into core contributors for your team, there’s a level of pride in finding those guys. Not that all those players pan out. We know that they don’t. There is a level of pride in finding those players in the mid-rounds that can contribute for your team.”
The mid-round contributor Ziegler will be looking for next weekend will likely play right tackle. The Raiders struggled at that spot last year and, outside of re-signing Brandon Parker and Jermaine Eluemunor, that’s one need they haven’t addressed and it might be their biggest.
Typically, there aren’t many starting-quality offensive tackles available in the third round or later, but Ziegler also didn’t shoot down the idea of a draft-day trade-up:
“If there’s a deal to be made that’s going to benefit the Raiders, whether it’s moving up in the draft, whether it’s moving back in the draft, those are always things that we’re going to be open to and entertain if we ultimately think it’s going to be a good decision for us to add a good football player.”
In other Raiders links:
- High scoring Raiders: Las Vegas ranks fifth in highest-scoring drive percentage (44%) since 2020, per PFF.
- New draft strategy for the Silver and Black?: Take the best player available regardless of position, writes our Marcus Johnson.
- Week recap podcast: Daryle Lamonica passes, more Ziegler draft talk and mailbag questions.
- Gambling on Sin City: Oddsmakers still expect the Raiders to finish last in the loaded AFC West. But bettors are backing the Silver and Black in a big way to win the division and the Super Bowl, via the Las Vegas Review-Journal.