Part of what makes the draft so special is there’s a storyline and subsidiary impact with each pick. And Las Vegas making several trades during the draft, and a big one before it, as well as doubling up at running back, offensive line and defensive tackle added to the drama.
So, let’s dive into how some of Dave Zielger’s and Josh McDaniels’ decisions impacted some of the players and the team as a whole.
Winner: Davante Adams trade
One of the downfalls of trading for Adams was the Raiders had to give up their first- and second-round picks of the draft. That meant it was going to be a lot more difficult to fill the team’s other offensive hole at tackle.
The top three at the position — Evan Neal, Ikem Ekwonu and Charles Cross — were for the most part always considered out of reach, but there was hope that Trevor Penning or another starting-caliber tackle would slide down to pick No. 22. Penning got close, going 19th overall to the Saints and while Tyler Smith, who was the 24th pick by the Cowboys, would have been available for the Raiders, many think Smith is more of an interior lineman.
After that, the next edge protector off the board was Nicholas Petit-Frere at the beginning of the third round. So, even if the Raiders still had their first-round pick, it would have been difficult to find a starting right tackle with where they were going to pick in the first round. Plus, the second round ended up being a wash since no tackles were selected unless they wanted Petit-Frere, Abraham Lucas or Bernhard Raimann.
Then, in the hypothetical situation where Las Vegas doesn’t make the deal for Adams, the team would need to add a wideout early and that market shrunk quickly as well.
By the 18th pick of the draft, all six of the first-round receivers were taken. The Raiders' best option on Day 1 likely would have been Christian Watson who, coincidentally, ended up going to the Packers with the second pick of Round 2.
From there, Alec Pierce and Skyy Moore would have been available as with the 53rd overall selection, but I think it’s safe to say the Raiders are happier with the wideout they’ve already had in the building for a couple of weeks now.
LOSER: Josh Jacobs
It’s been a rough few days for Jacobs. On Friday, Ziegler announced that he wouldn’t be picking up any of the fifth-year options for the organization’s 2019 first-round picks — Clelin Ferrell, Jacobs and Johnathan Abram — and the draft signaled even less of a commitment to the back.
While it was in the fourth round, the Raiders spent their second pick of the draft on Georgia running back Zamir White. Later, they doubled down at the position with their last pick of the three-day extravaganza by taking UCLA’s Brittain Brown.
But it isn’t just that Ziegler and McDaniels spent a couple of Day 3 picks to make the position room a little more crowded, it’s that they seem to be drafting particular types of players in regards to the ground game.
The Patriots ran a ton of gap runs last season and that’s the type of system that Parham fits into. Meanwhile, White split carries a year ago but still had the fifth-most rushing attempts on gap runs in the SEC, and Brown sat at a 75 to 26 gap-to-zone carries ratio last year, so the direction of the run game is pretty clear.
Zamir White split carries with James Cook and still had the 5th-most gap runs in the SEC last season (82, via @PFF).— Matt Holder (@MHolder95) April 30, 2022
The Patriots were one of the most gap-heavy teams last season and Jacobs is a zone back who had 3x as many zone attempts than gap last year#Raiders #NFLDraft
Jacobs has always been known as more of a zone runner and had almost three times as zone rushes as gap rushes — 168 to 57 — in 2021. That’s not to say that the Alabama product can’t fit into Mcdaniels’ system, but the writing does seem to be on the wall that his time with the organization could be coming to an end in the next year or so.
WINNER: Brandon Parker
As mentioned above, Las Vegas was expected to be in the right tackle market this offseason. However, after failing to sign someone new in free agency, the organization brought back a familiar face in Parker.
Even without a pick until the third round, there was skeptism about the Raiders rolling with the four-year veteran and a lot of chatter about finding an upgrade in the draft. But Ziegler and Co. stayed away from the tackle position until the last round.
Granted, Parham has some experience holding down the edge but Ziegler specifically mentioned guard and center when asked about where his first pick as general manager will get work.
“All our offensive linemen, they all get cross-trained across the board. . . The interior guys all work at guard and center. He’ll be no different than all the other guys on our team,” Ziegler said about Praham. “We’ll give all the guys opportunities to work at both spots.”
So, it sounds like Parker has managed to survive another round of the offseason, and his next task is to beat out Alex Leatherwood for the starting right tackle spot, which he did less than a year ago.
LOSER: Raiders’s secondary
Heading into the draft, many expected Las Vegas to add to it’s secondary. Projected starting corners Trayvon Mullen and Rock Ya-Sin will be playing on contract years, and the team only has Tre’von Moehrig and aging Duron Harmon to play Patrick Graham’s two-high coverages.
Not to mention, the Raiders’ top two outside cornerbacks from last season — Casey Hayward and Brandon Facyson — departed in free agency.
The need was certainly there but the team opted to ignore it’s defensive backfield in the draft. And it wasn’t for a lack of opportunities as notable prospects like Tariq Woolen, Coby Bryant and Damarri Mathis were available for the Silver and Black, but they opted to roll with the crew they already have.
To McDaniels’ and Ziegler’s credit, the team’s issue in the secondary is more of a future problem than an immediate one, but don’t be surprised if this time next year we’re talking about how the Raiders could really use a cornerback and/or safety.
WINNER: Darren Waller
Waller is a winner in part because he’s still on the team. Rumors started swirling before the draft that the Packers were looking to make a run at the superstar tight end, but that, obviously, never came to fruition. Instead, he’ll be returning to the desert to build on his pedigree and will have less competition for the ball than some anticipated.
Beyond the trade rumors, there was a little belief that the Raiders might draft a tight end. McDaniels and the Patriots are known for using multiple players at the position, and Waller turns 30-years-old in September and will be playing on the second to last year of his current contract. So, it was fair to assume the team would be looking for his eventual replacement and someone who could contribute right away.
However, that’s not what happened and Las Vegas only drafted offensive linemen and running backs who aren’t known for catching the ball out of the backfield on that side of the ball, no wide receivers or tight ends. That means the former All-Pro will still get his fair share of targets and won’t have to look over his shoulder at his potential replacement.
LOSER: Denzelle Good
Good is no stranger to facing adversity. The former seventh-round pick earned starting spot with the Colts in 2017 but went on to battle injuries before being claimed off waivers by the Raiders in 2018. He eventually became a first-stringer again a few years later, only to tear ACL in Week 1 of last season.
Now a 31-year-old coming off a major injury, Good’s starting status was once again in jeopardy, and the Raiders adding offensive linemen in the draft doesn’t help matters.
As previously mentioned, Parham is expected to compete for playing time on the inside, and the club’s second to last pick of the draft, Thayer Munford, can serve as the team’s sixth or seventh offensive lineman having played both guard and tackle at Ohio State.
Also, with the Raiders’ draft strategy further suggesting they are going to run a gap run scheme offensively, the likelihood of John Simpson retaining a starting spot increases. Simpson was a good pass blocker last season but struggled in John Gruden’s zone-heavy scheme and has always been a better gap run blocker, going back to his days as a prospect coming out of Clemson.
So, with Simpson on the left and potentially Parham at right guard, Good could easily be the odd man out. And while he does bring some versatility as a guard/tackle combo type of player, that role is also up for grabs with the team bringing in the younger Munford who has a similar resume.