Best- and Worst-Case Scenarios for Oakland Raiders' Top 3 Picks
While general manager Reggie McKenzie will be looking to improve the team’s depth and talent throughout, it is in the first three rounds that he can find the most impact players.
Fortunately for the Silver and Black, this year’s draft is quite talented at a number of positions they could stand to upgrade.
Although a team will never want to draft based on need alone, filling such needs with some of the best players available is a realistic possibility with this class.
Here is a look at the best- and worst-case scenarios for each of the Oakland Raiders’ top three picks in the upcoming draft.
Round 1 Best Case
With the fifth overall pick in the first round, the Raiders are in a bit of an interesting spot. While there is certain to be a top prospect available, the number of scenarios that could unfold in the picks beforehand make it extremely difficult to predict.
Ideally, either Jadeveon Clowney or Khalil Mack will be available when the Raiders are on the clock, giving Reggie McKenzie and his staff a fairly easy decision.
Whether or not that situation works itself out remains to be seen, but it seems quite unlikely at this point.
Clowney and Mack are arguably the two best prospects in this year’s class and could easily be off the board within the first three picks, if not sooner.
Having significant needs elsewhere, like addressing the future of the quarterback position, the Raiders could still make use of the fifth overall pick either way.
However, one of this year’s top pass-rushers falling to them gives them the best chance for the kind of instant-impact player they are seeking.
Round 1 Worst Case
While the Raiders have done well to improve a number of areas throughout the roster, it would be tough to argue against any one selection should they deem the prospect worthy of the fifth overall pick.
Having said that, the worst-case scenario for the Raiders in the first round would be for them to trade up in hopes of landing of a prospect they don’t believe will be available at that fifth spot.
There are certain to be several teams within the top four selections willing or looking to trade down.
However, due to the depth of this draft class and the expensive cost of moving up, this is something the Raiders should stay away from no matter how much they like a given prospect.
For a team needing to add depth across the board, sacrificing one or more mid-round selections to move up will present anything but good value.
Should the Raiders not be satisfied with the prospects set to be available at their selection, a trade down to add more picks—even in a deal that comes below market value—would be the better option.
Round 2 Best Case
Again, this year’s draft class is considered extremely deep at a number of positions, one of which is most certainly the wide receiver spot.
With the free-agent addition of James Jones, the Raiders have upgraded the group already, but adding to it even further could give them the kind of receiver depth they have lacked for quite some time.
Here, possible targets include Davante Adams (Fresno State), Cody Latimer (Indiana), Jarvis Landry (LSU) and Allen Robinson (Penn State).
Each of these wideouts, and several more, are second-round prospects that could easily be instant contributors at the next level.
With such depth at the position, it is quite possible that the majority of the second-round receivers would be first-round talents in any other year, thus representing great value for any team with a need at that spot.
As such, in search of impact players, selecting a receiver in the second round would be the best-case scenario for the Raiders in this year’s draft.
Round 2 Worst Case
If the Raiders are unable to land one of the top pass-rushers in the first round, a logical assumption would be for them to target the position later on in the draft instead.
While they should indeed look to add depth to the position in the mid to late rounds, targeting a pass-rusher as early as the second round may not be the best strategy for missing in the first.
Unlike the deep receiver class, the talent level in edge-rushers has a more significant drop-off after the projected first-round prospects.
Unless a player falls on draft day, an edge-rusher selected here would seem to be more of a stretch for a need when more value can be found elsewhere.
For example, other than receiver, there should be a number of impact interior defensive linemen available in the second round. This could include players like Ra'Shede Hageman (Minnesota), Dominique Easley (Florida) and Will Sutton (Arizona State).
While adding depth to the edge rush remains a significant need for the Raiders, second-round talent at other spots—like defensive tackle—could provide the kind of value they should be seeking in a deep draft class.
Round 3 Best Case
Assuming the Raiders are looking elsewhere with their first-round selection, addressing the future of the quarterback position should remain a priority as late as the third round.
If the Raiders are indeed committed to Matt Schaub for the next few seasons, seeking one of the draft’s developmental quarterback prospects here would be their best bet.
This could include David Fales (San Jose State), A.J. McCarron (Alabama), Aaron Murray (Georgia) and Tom Savage (Pittsburgh), to name a few.
Each of these players could benefit from learning for a season or two behind a proven veteran like Schaub, ideally taking over at the end of his current contract.
The addition of Schaub should not rule out selecting a quarterback in the first round, but if they do choose to address other areas of the roster, there should be several developmental quarterbacks that could fit well with the Raiders here in the third round.
Round 3 Worst Case
Running back is one of several positions that is without first-round talent in this year’s draft, and this group’s top prospects should instead start to come off the board in the second or third round.
Earlier in the offseason, with uncertainty at the position, running back would have been a realistic option for the Raiders here.
Since then, with Darren McFadden re-signed and Maurice Jones-Drew added in free agency, questions in the backfield have been addressed quite well.
With second-year player Latavius Murray also in the fold, adding another running back this early would overcrowd an already talented backfield when value can be found elsewhere.
Despite the ideal “best player available” draft strategy, running back is a position the Raiders should avoid both here in the third round and quite possibly throughout the draft entirely.