How Raiders should approach NFL trade deadline at positions of need
Raiders fans wanted Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock to go get Stefon Diggs out of Minnesota. They got Zay Jones instead. That’s a far cheaper option and yet another attempt to fortify an ailing receiver corps decimated by injury, ineffectiveness and Antonio Brown’s dramatic exit. Relying on Jones and Trevor Davis isn’t ideal, but they should be patient over trying to snag a veteran at this stage.
Let’s not forget that next year’s NFL draft class is loaded with quality receivers, and the Raiders have two first-round picks to acquire one of the best. They can choose one ideal for their system, who won’t demand top dollar for four years at least, and might not be the headache that Brown or other receivers upset with their current situations.
A perfect example of why to avoid trades -- yeah, hindsight is 20/20 -- they gave up a third and a fifth-round draft pick last year for Brown. Would fans rather have Terry McLaurin, who would’ve been available at the Raiders third-round pick -- they LOVED him at the Senior Bowl -- over Brown’s scorched Earth campaign? Again, the AB experiment was worth making for the price, but still, you get the point. Sometimes the best trades are the ones you don’t make, especially while rebuilding from the ground up.
The Raiders have lost Vontaze Burfict for the entire season after his appeal for leniency fell on deaf ears. That, and Marquel Lee ending up on IR, leaves the Raiders razor-thin at an important position.
Tahir Whitehead has managed well in the middle and Nicholas Morrow has shown tremendous growth, but they need depth there. Recent acquisition Dakota Allen and practice-squad promotion Justin Phillips are the next men up there, and a veteran certainly could help. Giving up a draft pick for someone unfamiliar with Paul Guenther’s somewhat complex system to play the base defense doesn’t sound like a good use of capital.
But, if there’s someone on the street who could step in … then maybe. The fit would have to be near-perfect to make a move for depth.
The Raiders aren’t getting a ton from first-round pick Clelin Ferrell, though Maxx Crosby and Benson Mayowa have emerged as quarterback chasers working with a solid interior rotation. Arden Key is out for a couple weeks and hasn’t flashed when healthy, so an extra guy to create quarterback pressure could be useful. That’s also a position that could make an instant impact with these simple instructions: “see quarterback, hit quarterback.”
The Raiders could go big for a productive veteran on a terrible team or get someone on an expiring contract for one of their two third-round picks. But, again, why give up a pick on an older player and lose the opportunity to take a younger one who could help make a splash entering Las Vegas in 2020?
The defensive line always was viewed as a multi-year rebuild through the draft. The Raiders could expedite the process by adding one now, but -- as I’ve been screaming throughout this story -- discipline should be key to preparing this franchise for sustained success.
The Raiders have a good thing going in the running game, and there’s no need to mess it up. But the Raiders worked out LeGarrette Blount and Bo Scarbrough this week, though they didn’t sign either player.
The running back corps doesn’t have a bigger back, though Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington are similar talents. Both guys are short, not small, and have filled in well when Jacobs needs a spell. The Raiders might want to diversify their position group and add a power back. It’s hard to see a trade adding to the crew, unless it’s for a lower-round draft selection.
Let me explain why this position is here. The Raiders certainly don’t need another cover man. They have plenty, both veterans and new guys. It’s actually a position of strength, with Daryl Worley able to roam around the secondary playing different positions because the Raiders have enough talent at outside cornerback.
They might be able to use a veteran like Nevin Lawson as a trade chip -- maybe Gareon Conley for a big-time talent -- to add to a position of need without giving up a coveted draft pick. The Raiders must be cautious not to hinder their quest to build this team through the draft, and completing a rare player-for-player trade could involve their relative surplus of defensive backs.