The NFL Draft is essentially one big domino effect. Each pick impacts how other teams approach the draft, especially in the first round. So, the Las Vegas Raiders, who hold the seventh selection overall, have six counterparts who can alter their strategy and each can impact the Silver and Black in different ways.
Everyone knows the Panthers are targeting a quarterback but which one they opt to take will significantly alter the Raiders’ plans. In recent weeks, there has been a growing suspicion that Carolina will take Alabama’s Bryce Young with the No. 1 overall pick. So much so that DraftKings Sportsbook currently has Young as the heavy favorite to be the first player off the board with -1600 odds.
According to Vinny Bonsignore of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Young is also the Raiders' top choice and would have been their pick had they outbid the Panthers for the first pick of the draft.
“There is smokescreen that goes on and we get that. So you can’t 100 percent buy into something. There is always a little bit of caution involved, but… I know that they really like Bryce Young,” Bonsignore said on the Morning Tailgate with Clay Baker. “I think that’s who they would have ultimately taken had they gotten that No. 1 pick. That’s just my feeling based on certain conversations and things like that… but I think there are two guys, Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud, that they would probably draft.”
Obviously, if Young is the first player taken, that decreases the likelihood that Las Vegas drafts a quarterback in the first round, and where Stroud goes could completely take the position off the table, leading us to the second pick of the draft.
ESPN’s Matt Miller reported that Young is the only quarterback the Texans are considering with the second overall pick. If the Alabama signal-caller isn’t available, the suspicion is Houston could target a defender like Young’s teammate, Will Anderson Jr., which would impact Las Vegas in a couple of different ways.
The sooner Anderson Jr. comes off the board, the urgency for edge defenders increases, and the likelihood of someone like Tyree Wilson from Texas Tech being available at No. 7 decreases.
Hypothetically, if quarterbacks are taken with the first four picks, then Anderson Jr. falls into the Seattle Seahawks’ lap and the Detroit Lions are the only team standing in the way of the Raiders getting Wilson. Whereas the Texas Tech product could head to Seattle in the other scenario.
The other way Houston opting for a defensive player with the second pick impacts Las Vegas’ draft strategy is that would make Stroud available at No. 3, creating an interesting trade-up opportunity for the Silver and Black...
The Arizona Cardinals hold a lot of cards in this draft with the third overall pick. They could stay put and take Anderson Jr. (if he’s available) or Jalen Carter from Georgia, which would have a similar impact on the Raiders as mentioned above. Or, Arizona could field trade offers for the pick, especially if Stroud is still available.
Las Vegas might be willing to move up for the Buckeye based on Bonsignore’s comments, making the Raiders and Cardinals potential trade partners. Obviously, the two parties successfully or unsuccessfully striking a deal will have an impact on how the Silver and Black operate throughout the draft.
Everyone expects the Indianapolis Colts to draft a quarterback, it’s just a matter of who. Part of that will depend on what Houston and Arizona do, but whoever Indianapolis takes will alter Las Vegas’ strategy.
As we know, the Raiders are in the quarterback market too, so they will either have to stay put at seven and roll with the guy—or one of the guys—the Colts don’t want, or try to trade ahead of the Colts to get their pick of the litter. In the latter scenario, the Cardinals will likely try and get their two potential trade partners into a bidding war.
Also, if Indy takes the signal-caller Vegas wants, Vegas could easily pivot to the best defensive player available at pick No. 7 and try their luck in next year’s quarterback class.
In other words, it’s all a matter of who the Colts want.
The Seattle Seahawks and the Raiders have nearly identical quarterback situations. With Geno Smith, Seattle has a starter in place for next year but could use someone for the future, much like Jimmy Garoppolo in Las Vegas. While drafting a QB isn’t a pressing need for either city, it is an option, and what direction the Seahawks go in will impact the Silver and Black.
If they don’t draft someone under center, Seattle has been a hot destination for Anderson Jr., Wilson and Carter to land. All three should be on Las Vegas’ radar, but there is a scenario where Houston, Arizona and Seattle take them off the table.
Whether the Seahawks opt to draft for the future of their franchise or address a more immediate need in the trenches, the Raiders will have to adjust their approach in the first round.
While Jared Goff has two years left on his contract, the Detroit Lions can get out of it next season with only $5 million in dead cap while saving about $27 million in cap space, per OverTheCap.com. That puts a quarterback in play with the sixth pick overall, but the Lions and Raiders have similar needs outside of the most important position in sports.
Detroit could use a defensive tackle like Carter or an edge to pair with Aidan Hutchinson, making Wilson an option as well. They also just traded away cornerback Jeff Okudah which could signal that they’re narrowing in on Oregon’s Christian Gonzalez or Devon Witherspoon from Illinois, both of whom have been linked to the Silver and Black in several mock drafts.
This is another situation where the Raiders have to settle with their second or third choice at a specific position because their needs align with a team that’s drafting in front of them. We’ll find out soon enough how it all plays out!