Raiders Draft: The Five Best Pick/Trade Options for Oakland

alex chavezCorrespondent IApril 26, 2008

Oakland's 5 Choices Today

Amid all the speculation and rumors, here are the five most likely scenarios for the Oakland Raiders today. If Al Davis is tired of paying top signing bonus money to risky rookies, Oakland will trade down for the first time in anyone's memory . Football’s financial landscape is different now than it was in the 70s, 80s, and 90s, so it doesn’t matter that Davis never trades down, this could be the year he does it.

Lane Kiffin’s little teasers that they don’t need McFadden but still might draft him because of his star potential is an attempt to get the Jets to trade up for McFadden. So, let’s get to the bottom of all this speculation.

Assuming the Rams or Falcons take Glenn Dorsey (who Oakland would jump all over if available), Chris Long or Darren McFadden will be sitting there at #4. Here are the 5 most probable outcomes.

#1 – The Raiders take Chris Long.

An immediate starter at RE, Long would begin his career already as an above average run-defender and pass rusher. When I first started scouting Long, I was leery about his ability to rush the passer out of a 4-3 DE position. However, after looking at the film, and reading the scouts' analysis on Long’s footwork, hand-placement, explosiveness, and strength, I can certainly see why he’s drawing favorable comparisons to the Seahawks’ impressive Patrick Kearney. The guy can do it all, and his knowledge of the game (instincts) allows the Raiders to rest assured Long will not be a bust.

#2 – The Raiders trade down with the Jets, who draft Darren McFadden.

The Jets, though they know the Chiefs won’t draft McFadden, have to be worried that another team will trade up with Oakland or Kansas City and take the stud Arkansas running back. Mangini would love to add McFadden’s star play and marketability to the “other” New York franchise and improve a moribund offense. The Raiders get a 3rd round pick (moving down 2 slots is likely not enough of a drop to receive a 2nd rounder in return).

The Chiefs would then take either Vernon Gholston or Chris Long to replace Jared Allen, or they take QB Matt Ryan, or OT Ryan Clady. The Raiders choose next and would still be guaranteed either Long, DT Sedrick Ellis, or outstanding and coaching-staff-impressing linebacker Keith Rivers. With the 3rd round pick, the Raiders can focus on massive but injured Texas tackle Tony Hills or small-school gem running back Calvin Dawson from the University of Louisiana-Monroe .

#3 - Raiders draft McFadden and keep him, then trade back into the 1st round for Dallas ’ 22nd or 28th pick.

Oakland has a few weapons at the running back position, but if given the opportunity to draft a guy who ripped through tough SEC defenses three years in a row, Davis could easily convince himself to do so. After all, the odds of Fargas staying healthy an entire season are roughly 1 in 5, and the odds of Michael Bush regaining his pre-injury explosiveness is still debatable. Someone at the Raiders facility let a reader of mine know that Oakland was a little underwhelmed by Bush’s speed last season, and this lack of explosiveness might have been the reason Oakland didn’t activate him at all.

As mentioned in a previous article, Fargas got fat against 3 of the 5 worst run defenses in the league. Whatever one’s feelings may be, the running back situation is certainly not rock solid and an upgrade (especially considering DMac’s pass catching skills) would bring points, money, and buzz to an Oakland franchise that needs all three.

Al Davis would trade back into the 1st round to draft someone he felt could start right away. Guys like WR Devin Thomas or Limas Sweed, LB Jarod Mayo or Dan Conors, and LTs Sam Baker or Carl Nicks could be options.

#4 – There are numerous projects that the Raiders would love to have a shot at in the 3rd or 4th round. I see the Raiders trading 2009 picks to jump into the middle rounds

Oakland would love to come out of this draft with 4.3 forty-speed running back Calvin Dawson or massive DTs Red Bryant and Frank Okam. Bryant or Okam would immediately push Turdell Sands for playing time as a starting defensive tackle. 

Calvin Dawson rushed for 100+ yards against BCS schools Alabama , Arkansas , Kansas , Kentucky , Clemson, and Texas A&M. At over 200 pounds, Dawson is an every-down player and would challenge Fargas for the best all-around back on the roster.  He also has the McFadden-esque speed that Davis covets. Dawson stated that the Raiders, among other teams, have talked with him.  

I also see Davis jumping back in to get a receiver like Cal ’s Lavelle Hawkins , Virginia Tech’s Eddie Royal, Appalachian State’s Dexter Jackson, or Kansas State ’s Jordy Nelson if any of them drop to the 3rd round.

#5 - Raiders trade down with the Ravens if Baltimore covets Matt Ryan and the Falcons pass on him, or the Raiders trade down with the Saints if they want one of Dorsey or Ellis. The Ravens would have reason to think that the Chiefs – who pick right after Oakland – might jump on Matt Ryan or trade down with another team that would.

The retirement of Steve McNair leaves Baltimore with Kyle Boller and Troy Smith at the QB position. The swing and miss on Boller might make new Ravens coach John Harbaugh remiss to use another 1st round pick on a slinger. Furthermore, the trading away of Jared Allen will make Baltimore more likely to stay put, watch the Chiefs draft Vernon Gholston, and have Matt Ryan fall to them.

The Saints have been hot in their pursuit of Dorsey, and might still be willing to give up a similar package (their 1st and 2nd, or their 1st and LT Jamaal Brown) for Ellis, if Dorsey is taken by Atlanta . If either of these trades occur, the Raiders would still be in position to draft Ellis (if the Rams go with Gholston and the Falcons take Ryan), Keith Rivers, OG/OT Branden Albert, or WR Devin Thomas.

As for the talk about a big trade with Dallas, I just don't see Oakland wanting to slide down to the bottom of round 1 in exchange for the #4 overall. Down there you're looking at solid possible starters, while we all know Davis wants the game-breakers.


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