Raiders

NFL Draft 2020: Should Raiders trade up for Justin Herbert, Tua Tagovailoa?

NFL Draft 2020: Should Raiders trade up for Justin Herbert, Tua Tagovailoa?

As the Raiders transition from the Bay Area to Las Vegas, coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock are preparing for a vital offseason in their rebuild.

The Raiders have five picks in the first 92, including Nos. 12 and 19 overall, and are slated to have at least $51.8 million in cap room for free agency. 

Before the Raiders can go about patching up their defense or upgrading their offensive weapons, they need to decide what to do at the quarterback position. 

Derek Carr is under contract until 2022, but the Raiders can cut the quarterback for minimal loss if they deem it necessary. Rumors have swirled about the Raiders' desire to pursue Tom Brady should he become a free agent, and multiple teams reportedly sense Carr could become available.

The Raiders can go a number of different directions at quarterback as they move to Sin City. While Brady's name gets all the publicity, the Raiders do have two first-round picks in the 2020 NFL Draft which they could package together to move up to select a top-tier quarterback in this year's class. 

Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow already should be buying a house in Cincinnati, as he's all but assured to be the Bengals' selection at No. 1 overall. But what about Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa or Oregon's Justin Herbert? Both signal-callers have high upside and were expected to be the first two quarterbacks off the board before Burrow went and set the country on fire while leading LSU to a national championship.

As the NFL Scouting Combine gets underway, let's take a look at the second and third best quarterbacks in the class, and whether or not the Raiders should make a move up the draft board.

Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama

If not for the fractured hip he suffered against Mississippi State, Tagovailoa would be right there in the conversation with Burrow for the No. 1 overall pick. As is, the Alabama product got good news from surgeons a few weeks ago, as NFL Media reported his hip has healed and he has good range of motion. He is expected to resume football activities sometime next month if progress continues.

At 100 percent, Tagovailoa was one of the most electric players in college football. He came off the bench to lead Alabama to the 2018 College Football National Championship and rose to stardom not long after. In nine games this past season, Tagovailoa threw for 33 touchdowns and just three interceptions while completing 71.4 percent of his passes and leading the country with a 206.9 efficiency rating. 

Tagovailoa measured at 6-foot even Monday in Indianapolis. While he lacks ideal size and has a tainted injury history, he has a quick release, great feet and a strong arm. He throws from a solid platform and is a great decision-maker in the RPO game. 

To the tape!

His ball placement on slants and corner routes is a thing of beauty,

Improvisation is an underrated aspect of his game.

And the deep ball ...

If Tua is healthy, a number of teams will be clamoring to pay a king's ransom to go up and get him.

Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon

An NFL scout's dream, Herbert (6-foot-6, 236 pounds) has all the physical tools to be the prototypical NFL quarterback.

He has great mobility and a bazooka for a right arm.

Herbert's issue during his time at Oregon was a lack of consistency, which can partly be blamed on having three different head coaches, three different offensive coordinators and two offensive schemes during his four years in Eugene, Ore. Herbert needs to work on his anticipation, as sometimes he'll wait too long to rip it.

All in all, Herbert has great feet, a massive arm and can be a big factor in the RPO game. He can make some ridiculous throws on the run.

There aren't many guys in the NFL who can make this throw.

Herbert starred at the Senior Bowl and no doubt will test through the roof at the Combine. If he nails the interviews with teams, he'll be top-six pick.

[RELATED: Raiders should sign Sanders to revamp receiving corps]\

To trade or not to trade

With so many early picks, Raiders have some ammo to move up in the draft should they deem it necessary. But based on recent NFL history, they would have to pay quite the price tag to jump and take either Tagovailoa or Herbert.

The Raiders have a number of needs and would be better served by keeping their picks and stocking their roster with as much talent as possible. There's no doubt Gruden would love to see Herbert or Tua throwing darts in silver and black, yet with Tagovailoa's injury history and Herbert's inconsistency, the Raiders would be wise to hang back and address their other needs.

But if Gruden wants his QB, he just might go get him.

NFL Draft 2020: Six receiver prospects Raiders should target on Day 2

NFL Draft 2020: Six receiver prospects Raiders should target on Day 2

An offense without weapons at wide receiver is like a great white shark without rows of razor-sharp teeth. It doesn't pose nearly as much of a threat.

That's what the Raiders' offense had to deal with in 2019. While Hunter Renfrow was a revelation in the slot and Darren Waller blossomed at tight end, the lack of weapons at receiver put a ceiling on Jon Gruden's offense.

Tyrell Williams will be back as the team transitions to Las Vegas, and the Raiders hope the plantar fascitis that hampered him last season is a thing of the past. The Raiders signed Nelson Agholor and hope to get more out of Zay Jones, but they need to add dynamic playmakers if they plan to take the next step.

The Raiders should add an elite receiver with one of their two first-round picks in the 2020 NFL Draft, but one isn't enough. Make no mistake, adding either CeeDee Lamb, Jerry Jeudy or Henry Ruggs would make the offense worlds more dangerous, but more help is needed. No, the Raiders won't use both first-round picks on receivers, they have too many other needs to focus just on the hole out wide.

But they have three third-round picks, a fourth-round pick and fifth-round selection to play with, and this draft class is loaded at receiver, giving the Raiders several Day 2 and Day 3 options to look at.

K.J. Hamler, Penn State

I'm going to start here. Hamler is a household name and he'll likely be off the board in Round 2, but the electric Penn State receiver has the explosiveness and big-play ability the Raiders sorely lacked in 2019.

He has the route-running and hands to make him a high-target slot receiver in the NFL and his ability to make defenders miss and turn a 9-yard gain into a huge chunk play is something that should have Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock salivating. Hamler isn't any sort of hidden gem. His ability and break-neck speed are well-documented and the Raiders no doubt will have their eye on him.

Exhibit A:


Chase Claypool, Notre Dame

There were questions about Claypool's positional fit before the NFL Scouting Combine. Some teams asked the 6-foot-4, 238-pound receiver to workout at tight end. That doesn't matter now.

After running a 4.42 40-yard dash and recording a 40.5-inch vertical at the combine, it's clear that Claypool's size and freakish athleticism will allow him to find a home in the NFL.

Only two wide receivers since 2005 have recorded a sub 4.45 40 while measuring 6-foot-4 and 235 pounds. Claypool and Calvin Johnson.

He can be a vertical threat on the outside or operate in the slot as a possession receiver to move the sticks. His versatility will make him a coveted Day 2 pick. Claypool likely won't be available in Round 3, but with a class this deep and versatile it's hard to tell who will go where after the first four receivers are off the board.

Contested-catch ability? Check.


K.J. Hill, Ohio State

As shown by last year's draft class, Mayock and Gruden put a premium on production and culture fit. Look no further than Ohio State's K.J. Hill.

No player has caught more passes in Ohio State history than Hill, and that includes the likes of Cris Carter and Michael Thomas.

At 6-foot, Hill comes with some physical limitations -- so did Renfrow -- but he's a silky route-runner with elite separation skills, good hands and natural run-after-the-catch ability. The Buckeye star should be available in Round 3, and it's easy to see Gruden selecting Hill after an adding outside threat in Round 1.


Michael Pittman Jr., USC

The Raiders really struggled in the red zone last season. A healthy Williams should give them a boost, but they'll need more to capitalize on scoring opportunities.

Introducing, USC's Michael Pittman Jr.

The 6-foot-4 receiver is long, strong, has huge hands and a massive catch radius. He is great at winning on nine routes, comebacks, quick outs and slants. His big frame and physicality give him the ability to win on contested catches.

Pittman isn't the fleetest of foot and can struggle to create separation but the physical tools will be hard to pass up.


Devin Duvernay, Texas

If the Raiders have learned one thing from going against Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs, it's that deadly speed is something you need to have lots of and it can't be taught. That's why I opened this with Hamler, despite him not being a "hidden gem," and that's why we now arrive at Devin Duvernay.

The 5-foot-11 Texas slot receiver can burn it up. Speed, hands and physicality are what you need to know about his game. When the ball is in his hands he's as dangerous as anyone. His lack of separation agility has some people questioning his fit, but he has skills you just can't teach and could be a dynamic weapon for the Silver and Black. Oh, and he had zero career dropped passes in the red zone during his four years in Austin.

[RELATED: DTs Raiders could look to draft in Round 1]

Van Jefferson, Florida

I'll end this with a high-floor prospect who is a likely Day 3 selection.

Florida's Van Jefferson is a nuanced route-runner with good ball skills. While the hands are good and the routes are clean, Jefferson will be 24 when he takes an NFL snap and has an average athletic profile.

He can play both outside and in the slot. He thrives in the middle of the field and should have a productive NFL career as a second target.

Raiders set to use rest of Khalil Mack trade assets in 2020 NFL Draft

Raiders set to use rest of Khalil Mack trade assets in 2020 NFL Draft

The Raiders traded Khalil Mack just before the 2018 regular season and didn’t get anything in return to help that year’s roster. That was a main reason why that season went up in smoke and put the Raiders’ decision under fire.

Jon Gruden in particular became a punching bag the trade's detractors, without evidence of the trade's return coming for a year or more. 

The Raiders head coach is about to get a fat dividend check. 

The Mack trade will start looking a bit different next month, because the bulk of assets exchanged will be used either to acquire NFL draftees or as trade chips.

As a reminder, the Raiders traded Mack, a 2020 second-round draft pick -- coughing up that selection remains an eybrow raiser, but it got the deal done -- and a conditional 2020 fifth-round draft pick that is now a seventh-round draft pick to Chicago for first-round draft picks in 2019 and 2020, with a 2020 third-round draft pick and a 2019 sixth-round draft pick.

The Raiders used the Bears’ 2019 first-round pick to acquire running back Josh Jacobs. That’s not a bad deal even as a straight swap, but there’s a lot more to account for when evaluating this deal.

Following where the 2019 sixth-round pick would require heading down a rabbit hole leading to Wonderland, so let’s just say it was traded to the Jets along with Kelechi Osemele for an asset that started a series of 2019 in-draft trades that helped acquire several members of an excellent draft class, including Trayvon Mullen and Hunter Renfrow.

Here’s what the Raiders have yet to use from the Mack trade:
2020 first-round draft pick (No. 19 overall)
2020 third-round draft pick (No. 81 overall)

Here’s what the Bears have yet to use from the Mack trade:
2020 second-round draft pick (No. 43 overall)
2020 seventh-round draft pick (No. 223 overall)

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Using those selections will give us a clearer picture of what the trade looks like, even though it’s imprudent to evaluate draft picks until they’ve played a few NFL seasons.

Raiders fans should have some level of confident coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock will do the right thing with extra assets considering how well last year’s draft went, the Jacobs pick in particular.

This year’s No. 19 overall draft pick is an important one, likely producing the other headline name in a deal that will be remembered alongside shipping Mack to Chicago and the Jacobs pick.

[RELATED: Mack makes All-Decade Team, largely for work with Raiders]

Our latest NBC Sports Bay Area mock draft has the Raiders taking Alabama safety Xavier McKinney at No. 19, while Gruden and Mayock could be looking for a cornerback or a defensive tackle at that spot. It’s also a trade chip that could get the Raiders into the second round, where they currently don’t have a selection.

The Jacobs pick made fans feel a lot better about the Mack trade, especially with 2019 fourth-round draft pick Maxx Crosby proving a formidable edge rusher with 10 sacks as a rookie. Using their assets correctly might even make the Raiders come out ahead, or darn close to it, with young players on the roster and money Mack would’ve demanded spread out among several other veteran free agents who are good but not at Mack’s elite level.