The Raiders are in a unique position entering next year’s NFL draft. They’re currently armed with three first-round draft picks, accumulated from the Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper trades and one automatically given to them.
If they use them all, it would mark the 16th time in the common draft era that an NFL team has made three first-round picks in the same draft. That information comes courtesy of ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert.
The New York Jets set a record in 2000 with four first-round selections. Recently, the 2017 Cleveland Browns used three first-round picks, and the 2013 Minnesota Vikings did the same thing.
The Raiders, too, have been in this position before. They used three first-round picks in 1988, to great effect.
They selected receiver Tim Brown (No. 6), defensive back Terry McDaniel (No. 9) and defensive tackle Scott Davis (No. 25) that season. Brown became a Hall of Famer. McDaniel started 137 games for the Raiders over 10 seasons and made five Pro Bowls. Davis didn’t last that long, but he was a three-year starter in five seasons with the Raiders.
Raiders coach Jon Gruden gladly would take a similar haul, but he must select appropriately to do so. That 2019 first round will set up his massive rebuild, without a slate of lower draft picks that season -- the Raiders astonishingly gave up a 2019 second-round pick in the Mack trade, The Raiders have two more first-round selections coming in 2020.
“This is where you get a great opportunity to build,” Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie said. “You have pieces you can use to really build on what we have. With Gruden and the coaches that I’ve got here now, knowing where we’re heading schematically on both sides of the ball and special teams, we’re going to build this thing. We have the ammunition to build this thing really well here.”
That’s if, of course, the Raiders select well. That’s when we’ll be able to compare what was given away to what was received.
The Cleveland Browns did well in 2017, with defensive end Myles Garrett (No. 1), starting safety Jabrill Peppers (No. 25) and productive tight end David Njoku (No. 29) taken in the first round.
While those picks can become trade fodder to move up or down in the NFL draft, the Raiders might be wise to go for quantity considering how much they need at so many positions.
If the season ended today, the Raiders would have three picks in the top 17, providing several opportunities to draft top talent. The Raiders recently have struggled to find productive talent in the first round. Mack and Cooper were the only Pro Bowl players selected in the first round since 2004, per the AP. Also, per the AP, just three draft picks during Gruden's seven-year tenure in Tampa Bay, when he controlled personnel, made the Pro Bowl.