Mock drafts can be silly. Mapping outcomes is inherently futile in an enterprise with so many variables. Case in point: It takes just one trade to outdate every mock draft out there.
Yet, we do them because they’re fun. They spark conversation about your favorite sport, even without a game set until September.
They do have some practical use. NFL teams typically do quite a few, in fact, as they prep for different scenarios when they’re on the clock.
NFL Network's Mike Silver said Thursday that the Raiders didn't do that heading into this NFL draft, with runs Thursday-Saturday. Per Silver, head coach Jon Gruden plans to conduct things in "real time." The Raiders have the No. 10 overall pick, and 10 more selections after that.
Thursday’s focus hones on the first round, where the Raiders need to find an impact player with a high draft slot. They would love an early quarterback run, with pushes top-end players toward them on the draft board. Having one of the top four passers on the board could increase their trade value.
They still have an idea of how much they’d want in return for a trade down the draft board. They certainly have a range for how much they’d sacrifice to trade up for edge rusher Bradley Chubb, which The Athletic reported as a possibility.
Here’s a few things we know, per sources, that could impact the Raiders first-round decisions:
They like Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith. If he's available at No. 10, expect the Raiders to take him. Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick intrigues them, as well as some other quality defenders possibly available at No. 10.
“There’s going to be five or six defensive players available there that are big time, game-changing defensive players,” NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said. “So I don't care whether you're talking about one of the two safeties (Fitzpatrick or Florida State’s Derwin James), (Ohio State cornerback) Denzel Ward, one of the two inside linebackers, (Washington defensive tackle) Vita Vea. One or two or three of those guys is going to be there for them, and I think they can take that in any direction. And I think Jon Gruden’s a very aggressive guy, and he wants to get this thing fixed quickly in his mind. They have selections at 10, 41, and 75. Whatever they do at 10 will trigger the direction they head in the next two rounds.”
There’s significant focus on the Raiders shoring up their defense, but they’ve done research on offensive tackles. That includes Notre Dame’s Mike McGlinchey, who could be a selection at No. 10 or just below should they trade out. Whether or not they get him, the offensive line should be a focus at some point in the draft.
A trade down would offer more picks for a team with serious needs, or provide assets to help trade up in later rounds. It could put McGlinchey in a more favorable draft spot. The Raiders have met with edge rusher Marcus Davenport, another intriguing prospect outside the typical cluster linked with the Raiders.
Several scenarios could play out in this Raiders draft, including one nobody has mentioned to this point. The NFL draft’s one certainty is its unpredictability. The Raiders have mapped out as many scenarios as possible, and have several contingency plans based on what goes down Thursday night with a pivotal selection in a pivotal draft.