What are the odds that the Oakland Raiders use all four of their top-35 draft picks without any trades?
This was a question posed on a podcast I was listening to lately, and the truth is, I’m not sure anyone has a number in double-digits as an answer to that one. With Jon Gruden — the impatient, sometimes irrational captain of the Raider ship — at the commands, it seems hard to imagine a scenario in which the Raiders aren’t moving up or back at some point next week. In fact, even Mike Mayock hinted at his interest in moving down in the draft just last week.
So let’s play this one out a bit…
Let’s say the Raiders don’t fall in love with anyone still on the board at No. 4 — maybe they’ve cooled on Josh Allen or don’t see a perfect fit with Quinnen Williams — and so they move down in the draft 4-8 spots. In this scenario, my guess is that they’d do so because there are some guys in that range that they like almost as much as Allen or Williams — but who could that be?
The three names that might be a good fit in my mind are Ed Oliver, Rashan Gary and Montez Sweat — guys I’d classify as “tier-two” defensive lineman. I say “tier-two” because I think they’d all be disappointing picks at No. 4 — but if you somehow ended up a bit further down in the draft, there could be something there. Check out their measurables…
Weight: 277 lbs
40-Yard Dash: 4.58
Bench Press: 26 reps
Vertical jump: 38″
Broad jump: 120″
College Stats: 34 games, 119 tackles, 23 TFL, 9.5 sacks, 1 FF
Weight: 287 lbs
40-Yard Dash: 4.73
Bench Press: 32 reps
Vertical jump: 36″
Broad jump: 120″
College Stats: 32 games, 192 tackles, 53 TFL, 13.5 sacks, 5 FF
Weight: 260 lbs
40-Yard Dash: 4.41
Bench Press: 21 reps
Vertical jump: 36″
Broad jump: 125″
College Stats: 27 games, 105 tackles, 30.5 TFL, 23.5 sacks, 1 FF
Just so we understand how crazy some of those numbers are above, all three guys out-jumped linebacker Devin White (who is 6’0″ and 237 pounds) — and Sweat even out-ran him. The point? All three of these guys are freaks. So why aren’t we talking about them in the same breath as Josh Allen, Nick Bosa and Quinnen Williams? Each guy has their own answer.
For Gary, it’s the lack of production. Coming out of high school he was the top recruit in the country — and while he played well in college, 9.5 total sacks is massively alarming. For OIiver, who is the only inside rusher of the three, people are concerned with his size — even though he came in around same height and weight as Aaron Donald, he lacks the dominance that Donald displayed. Finally, for Sweat, it’s his lack of refined pass rush moves that appear to be locks to translate into the NFL.
Despite these flaws, I think all three guys present interesting case studies for the Raiders in the 2019 draft. When a team is picking at No. 4, the expectation is that you come away with a sure-fire future pro-bowler — and unfortunately, none of these guys fit that bill. Is the potential there? Absolutely. In fact, you could argue that all three guys might have even higher ceilings than the top three defensive linemen in this draft — but potential is a scary word for a team like the Raiders.
So here’s my thinking: rather than looking at these guys as trade down candidates, I’m more intrigued in any of the three as trade up candidates. I think if you’re the Raiders you need to stay at No. 4 and draft Bosa, Allen or Williams. Those three are as close to sure-things as you’re going to find, and the Raiders cannot afford to miss.
With that said, this is the beauty of having three more picks in the top 35. Let’s say a team like the Dolphins is on the clock at No. 13 and one of these guys is still out there — would they consider an offer of No. 24 and No. 27? Based on the draft value chart, Oakland’s two other first-round picks combine to be worth 1,420 points — equivalent to the No. 8 pick (theoretically). Even No. 24 + No. 35 would get you enough points to move up to No. 10.
If I’m the Raiders, that is the kind of move I’d be all over. Imagine walking away from the first two days with Quinnen Williams, Rashan Gary and a third top-35 guy. Immediately a haul like this moves the Oakland defensive line from the bottom of the league into respectability — with a young core of Williams, Gary, Maurice Hurst, PJ Hall and Arden Key (all of whom would be on rookie contracts for the foreseeable future).
As far as how I’d rank the three guys? Gary scares me the most simply because it’s hard to project a guy who couldn’t produce in college producing in the pros — regardless of the athleticism he has. I’d probably put Oliver first (even though he is like Williams in that he’s probably best suited to play inside), then Sweat and then Gary.
VERDICT: Trade up into the early teens to snag one