It’s time to get the crew together and get ready for the NFL Draft next week. From all that we’ve been told, it looks like the Oakland Raiders are going to be very active this time around.
Raider Nation has been subjected to countless mock drafts and so many draft rumors over the last several months, it’s mind boggling. All the conjecture, all the guesses, all the arguing will soon be over as it’s draft week in the NFL. This draft for Oakland could shape up to be one of the most energetic, and exciting, drafts in recent history.
That’s the upside of having the 10th pick overall in the draft, and a collection of 11 picks overall. With the amount of quarterbacks going in the top 10, possibly four or more, the Raiders are in a position to nab a top quality prospect a positions of need including linebacker, defensive back and even offensive line.
But wait there is more.
Raiders head coach Jon Gruden, in an interview on NFL Network, said he will be “manning the phones” on draft day trying to move around. That sentiment was echoed when Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie suggested that the Raiders have pieces they’d be willing to trade to move up in the draft.
All of that makes sense when you consider Oakland currently has 77 players on the roster. Add in a possible 11 more players in the draft, that leaves only two roster spots. There is still the undrafted free agency (UDFA) period and other possible free agents are still available – namely linebacker Navarro Bowman. The Raiders also said they’d look to bring in some free agent kickers and punters too.
Something Has to Give
When asked about his standard UDFA acquisitions with such a cramped roster, McKenzie was clear.
“We will make room for players we want to get,” McKenzie said Friday.
Its seems pretty clear from his answers and tone fans can expect even more roster churn. There is not a lot of cap liquidity left on the roster though, according to Over the Cap. They show the Raiders have just shy of $3 Million left in cap space. That is not enough to sign all the Raiders draftees, even if they cut some players loose. It also would be made more difficult if they had the opportunity to resign Bowman.
Only four major players offer any sizable cap savings if cut or traded. linebacker Bruce Irvin, center Rodney Hudson, guard Kelechi Osemele, and tight end Jared Cook. Given what we’ve heard over the past few months, all of them seem to be in the Raiders plans. Maybe Cook is the lone exception with his $5.675 million salary.
The bottom of the roster is a place to free up money under the cap – albeit not massive numbers. Players like cornerback Dexter McDonald, defensive tackle Darius Lathem, and running back DeAndre Washington, are all examples of players the Raiders could free up cap space for. I am only using these three names as examples, I have not heard any of them mentioned as cuts.
So if the Raiders were going to make some moves in the draft, what would they do?
Even with a possible high number of players getting let go, I still feel like the Raiders are going to trade volume for surgical talent. I don’t necessarily see them moving from the #10 pick, but it’s certainly possible they move up from the 41st pick back into the 1st round. I also see the Raiders trying to acquire more top 100 picks in round two or three. They could do this by packaging up later round draft picks, future picks, players, or a combination of players and picks. The Raiders could even trade back in round three just to get another top 100 pick, or more to be used in other trades. Everything is on the table right now.
The biggest deciding factor will be the possible trade partners. It takes two to tango and finding the right dance partner – at the right price – is not easy. Still there are rumblings. Just today the Detroit Lions hinted they might be willing to move down from the number 20 pick. McKenzie believes there will be some teams looking to get more picks in the later rounds., something the Raiders just happen to have a lot of. Whether these moves actually happen is another story, but it will be exciting to see how this draft unfolds.
Make sure to follow draft day on Silver And Black Today as I will be in Alameda covering the first two days live.
Also, don’t forget to catch us tomorrow on our CBS Sports Radio Las Vegas 1140-AM live show – Silver and Black Today. We’ll be joined by one of the really good guys in the business, Scott Bair of NBC Sports Bay Area. He’ll talk Raiders schedule, draft, and more with us. If you’re not in Las Vegas, you can download the Radio.com app and stream it no matter where you are in Raider Nation.