The NFL season may still be going on, but fans and teams are already thinking heavily about the upcoming draft. The Raiders absolutely nailed their draft in 2019 and another strong showing could catapult the team into legit contenders. The team has a desperate need for wide receiver and linebacker talent. Luckily, there are really strong prospects at both positions in the 2020 draft class.
Spending years as a draft analyst, general manager Mike Mayock has proven to have a strong eye for young talent.
Raiders to Be More Aggressive: Report
The Raiders played it relatively safe in the 2019 NFL Draft and only traded down a couple of times. While they didn’t make any big splashes last year, it’s looking like Mayock could make things a little more interesting in 2020, according to Matt Miller at Bleacher Report:
“Last year, [Mike] Mayock was getting his feet wet, so they didn’t trade much. This year? I bet he starts working the board,” is how a rival team executive put it. And he’s right; last year, the Raiders did trade twice in the second round but otherwise largely stayed put during the draft. This year, the league expects Mayock to have a little more fun trading picks.
The quarterback position is unsettled long-term, the team needs another wide receiver and a middle linebacker, and this year’s draft is very good at those spots. If Mayock and Jon Gruden get excited about a player, the team’s two first-rounders could get packaged real fast.
Armed with two first-round picks and no second-round picks, it’s possible the Raiders trade down a bit to acquire more draft capital. If some rumors are to be believed, the team could be interested in drafting a quarterback. That may require them to trade both first-round picks.
It’s also possible that Mayock’s “fun” comes in the later rounds. He has three picks in the third round and no picks in the second, fifth or sixth rounds. Mayock proved that every pick is valuable as the team found late-round steals like Maxx Crosby, Foster Moreau and Hunter Renfrow. It wouldn’t be a surprise if the Raiders dealt at least one of those third-rounders in order to get some picks in the fifth and sixth rounds.
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Do Raiders Go Linebacker & Wide Receiver in First Round?
The biggest reason the Raiders should hold onto both first-rounders is that they could find real game-changers at positions of need. If the team could leave the first round with either Isaiah Simmons or Kenneth Murray and either CeeDee Lamb or Henry Ruggs, not a soul in the Raider fan base could complain.
The only reason the team should consider trading up is they really feel like they need to make a move at quarterback. If Gruden and Mayock feel comfortable riding with Derek Carr in 2020, then they should use the higher picks to fill needs. The Raiders aren’t landing Joe Burrow or Tua Tagovailoa unless they trade up, but the team could still find a solid prospect later in the draft.