The first round of the NFL Draft played out how general manager Dave Ziegler and his staff thought it would — for the most part. That’s what Las Vegas Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels noted during his post-opening round press conference Thursday evening.
“Dave and his crew had done a great job of setting up the board and putting the proper grades on the players,” McDaniels began. The guys that we thought would get selected, were selected – for the most part. We figured there would be a run on receivers and there was, we thought that the tackles would have a good chance to be gone by the end of the day and they are, in terms of the guys who were highly rated. ... It’s about what we thought. Pretty quiet evening for us.”
The run on wideouts was pretty wild and once the dam broke, it broke. It definitely beckons the thought if Vegas did not trade for Davante Adams and waited till they picked at No. 22, a top-tier wide receiver prospect was no dice. They were gone. Thus, hooray for the Raiders for making the prudent move of landing a bona fide No. 1 wide receiver that’s got the established NFL pedigree than banking on a rookie to assume that mantle — eventually.
Add into the fact who the Green Bay Packers selected with the No. 22 pick (Georgia linebacker Quay Walker) — the Pack got No. 22 and No. 53 from the Raiders in exchange for Adams — McDaniels was more than pleased with the Raiders net return on pick 22.
“We talked about that at pick 22. There’s all those things that you can kind of look back on and so forth, but we made that decision a while ago and are very happy with what we received in that transaction,” McDaniels began. “I’m sure Green Bay is happy with who they picked tonight. Davante is a pleasure to be around and to have the ability to work with him just a little bit this week at the minicamp was fun for everybody. Just to start that process together, looking forward to more of that as we go through the spring.”
Green Bay, assumed to be targeting a wide receiver with their two first-round picks, selected a pair of defenders at 22 and 28 in Walker and Georgia defensive tackle Devonte Wyatt.
While Raider Nation saw no Silver & Black selection in the first round, Day 2 of the draft is when Vegas enters the mix. They pick in the third round and 85 prospects will have been selected beforehand, but once again, McDaniels dropped a “if we stay there” type comment. Ziegler and Co. will always entertain trade offers, but perhaps, letting all the pieces fall on the board and get a lay-of-the-land look at the board may be best.
“We’ll be very aware of how it’s kind of fallen tomorrow by the time we get to pick in the third round, if that’s where we pick. What’s happening in the second round as we head into the third round, who may have changed spots, what they may need in front of us and then what’s really the most important thing, what’s left on our board that we really are interested in?,” McDaniels said. “If there’s two of a certain player at a certain position that you’re interested in and you see five teams ahead of you and there’s two or three of them that might have the same need, that’s where you start to kind of put two and two together to try to get four. Sometimes you’re right, sometimes you’re wrong. Sometimes staying put is the right thing to do.”
But if you were hoping to get some insight or clues on who the Raiders are looking at or what position group is atop their draft board, that sensitive info remains inside the team’s draft war room.
The rumor mill certainly churned up something fierce on Raiders tight end Darren Waller. But several high-profile Raiders nixed the notion from owner Mark Davis, to quarterback Derek Carr, and McDaniels last night.
“Darren’s a really important part of our team. I’ve loved my time being around him. He’s a Raider, he’s going to be a Raider,” McDaniels said. We’re looking forward to what we’re going to do together.”
Waller himself addressed his situation — namely two years remaining on a supremely cheap deal for an elite tight end.
“My agent is doing his job and they’re having discussions and whatever comes from that, comes from that,” Waller said. “But I’m focused on learning a new system and trying to be a great teammate. Just playing football and being a part of and being around guys like this. It’s not something that’s going to be around a long time, so I just focus on that. Things like money and all that will take care of itself.
“I’m already blessed, so I’m grateful for where I’m at right now.”
If He Had Stayed
Per usual, there were players prognosticated to be first-round talents that dropped completely out and then there were prospects not to be thought of as Top 32 talents make it into the opening foray.
One does have to wonder if Ziegler remained a New England Patriot, would the team have selected Tennessee-Chattanooga guard Cole Strange? Perhaps the best surprise pick of the first round, Strange did dominate the competition at TC.
And who knows, he may develop in New England.