The Raiders have four picks in the top 35 overall of the 2019 NFL Draft, and then aren’t scheduled to pick again until the fourth round.
That's a lot of downtime for two active minds. General manager Mike Mayock and head coach Jon Gruden might not want to sit idle for 70 selections waiting to add another football player. The Silver and Black have too many needs, to feel comfortable watching possible contributors will get reeled out of the draft pool in the second and third rounds.
“I’d love to get a couple more picks in there,” Mayock said Thursday during his pre-NFL draft press conference. “I just think we have a lot of holes that need to be filled. I think that’s a really good place to go fishing. If we can, we can.”
They would have to throw chum in the water to reel those picks in. You get that by trading down, stepping back from a scheduled pick for more volume. The Raiders won’t be adverse to that. They traded a ton last year, and have the assets to do whatever they want in this draft. They also have so many valuable commodities high in the draft that they won’t have to step back much to increase their haul.
Trading down slightly from No. 4 would reap the greatest return, though trade options remain with picks later in the first-round or the early second.
Additional selections would be nice, especially if a coveted player remains available at a slightly lower draft spot. It might be worth strong consideration if the Raiders are still looking defense early and value a cluster of Montez Sweat, Rashan Gary and Ed Oliver nearly as much as Quinnen Williams and Josh Allen.
They could drop from No. 4, pick up some picks and still get someone in that first trio.
If not, Mayock says the Raiders will be comfortable selecting as scheduled at Nos. 4, 24, 27 and 35. Just as he’ll fight against reaching for a player at a particular slot, he won’t take just any deal to add selections.
The goal remains the same.
“What we keep talking about upstairs is we better find four foundation football players,” Mayock said. “We define foundation as talent and football character. That’s what we want, guys who love the game. If we don’t move up, down or anywhere, we better get four of those guys.”
Staying put significantly decreases the team’s margin for error, but could increase the opportunity to draft a coveted player without interference from other teams. It would also address fewer needs when the Raiders have so many spots in need of an upgrade.
Mayock’s grand point is key. The Raiders need players who can form an organizational bedrock, and grow with the franchise during Gruden’s long tenure here. They could use instant impacts from quite a few, always a tough ask for a rookie.
The Raiders believe they have veteran insurance at most positions to take some pressure off new kids. That should help the Raiders feel free to add the best players regardless of position. Except edge rusher. They need a few of those guys.
The Raiders are in position to move up and down the draft board, or stay put with enough high picks to add impact players in a pivotal that could go a long way in shaping the Gruden/Mayock era. There’s a ton riding on these picks, and Mayock is excited to help make them.
“We laugh about it all the time but, A.) I don’t feel any pressure about it, B.) I love it and embrace it because it’s going to give us an opportunity to continue to try to turn the corner here and become a good football team, and I think what (having so many early picks) really gives us is flexibility and that’s what I love about it.
"Obviously, we could move up and you got to know what you are trying to do and how you are trying to do it. You can try to increase your draft capital by moving down or you stay the same, and four of the first 35 picks gives you an opportunity to consider all those scenarios multiple times, and again, that’s why we are opening up the lines of communication with all the teams around the league.
“I keep telling our guys, and you guys have heard me say this before, we need to be nimble, and nimble means depending on what the situation is to be able to react quickly according to the situation and make the right decision.”