The NFL draft is all about maximizing value. Why use a higher pick on a coveted prospect if you can trade down, pick up another pick and still get your guy?
The Raiders have a valuable commodity in the No. 10 overall pick, especially if a top quarterback remains on the board at that spot. A team may want to trade up for a signal caller, or a position player the Raiders don’t hold in high regard.
There should be plenty of good prospects if the Raiders stand pat. We went over five excellent options worthy of the No. 10 spot. Now let’s examine five top prospects who could be available even if the Raiders trade down into latter portions of the first round. These guys might also be had if Reggie McKenzie goes against his track record – Jon Gruden will have influence here – and trades back into the first round after using the No. 10 pick. Here are five good options who would look good in Silver and Black:
DT Maurice Hurst, Michigan
The Raiders are hell bent on improving their interior pass rush. It might be their biggest need after signing so many in free agency. The former Wolverine might be the best interior pass rusher in this draft, with power and creative moves disrupting the pocket from the inside. The Raiders have some level of interest, considering they brought him in for a draft visit. Hurst posted a photo on Instagram Monday night saying he was at the Raiders facility.
Hurst’s talent and college production is unquestioned, but health issues may drop him in this draft. He was sent home from the NFL combine after being diagnosed with a heart condition, though doctors cleared him to workout at Michigan’s pro day.
Hurst seems like a near-perfect football fit, even if he’s a smidge small and can stall against hulking linemen. He could be a mid-round target, and would fill an important need right away.
OT Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame
The Raiders could use an upgrade at right tackle, the one spot that has lacked consistency on an otherwise stout offensive line. They also need a left tackle of the future after Donald Penn calls it a career after 2019 at the latest. McGlinchey could fill both needs. McGlinchey’s considered the draft’s best offensive tackle, yet could be had in the middle or back end of the first round. He’s a solid leader with strong work ethic and sound technique. Analysts say he has inconsistency issues, and must fare better against power rushers. Even if some consider him unspectacular, he should be a steady NFL starter. That’s vital to a Raiders offensive line paying big money to three interior linemen. He could be a productive, cheaper option on the outside.
DT De’Ron Payne, Alabama
The Raiders need a defensive tackle. Payne doesn’t have Hurst’s skill set, and should be considered more of a prototypical defensive tackle. That isn’t a bad thing. Payne is an excellent run stopper, who analysts say has pass-rush skill that can be unlocked by the right coaching. He showed great improvement in that area last season. Payne would help the run defense right away. He has incredible strength, with surprising athleticism. He’s a football-first player and was known for leadership at Alabama. Payne seems like a safe solid pick in an area of need, and might be had in the late teens.
“The production hasn't always matched the ability but he is strong, he's athletic,” NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah said last week in a conference call. “(He has) really quick hands. I think he's got a little bit of stiffness in his ankles. That's one of the only knocks I had on him. But he plays hard and he's a really intriguing player.”
EDGE Harold Landry, Boston College
Landry is all over the map in recent mock drafts. He could be taken deep in the round or far, making it tough to predict exactly when he’ll be available. He could provide depth off the edge in the short term and become a long-term compliment to Khalil Mack off the opposite edge. Analysts say Landry has all the tools to be a solid NFL pass rusher, with burst and bend and raw speed. He’s adept creating turnovers, not just sacks, and shows a willingness to defend the run off the edge. Analysts say he must expand his technical repertoire, and do better converting speed to power.
CB Josh Jackson, Iowa
Denzel Ward is considered this draft’s top cornerback, and there’s a group of quality cover men right behind him. Jackson’s an intriguing option, considering his size (6-foot-1, 192 pounds) and ball skills. The former Iowa Hawkeye made played on 25.7 percent of his targets, per NFL.com, and showed well in big games. He doesn’t have a long track record of success, which might push him down some in the draft. He has long arms and can play physical at the line of scrimmage, though his 40-yard dash didn’t wow. Either Jackson, or one of the other highly regarded cornerbacks (listed below) could help a Raiders secondary going through yet another renovation.
Other trade-down targets to consider: CB Jaire Alexander (Louisville), LB Rashaan Evans (Alabama), OT Kolton Miller (UCLA), Edge Marcus Davenport (UT-San Antonio), CB Mike Hughes (Central Florida)