The NFL Draft is closing in and new Las Vegas Raiders general manager Dave Ziegler will be getting his first shot at running the show. He’s impressed fans by pulling off the Davante Adams trade and other moves he’s made in free agency but how he performs in the draft could make or break his career. Former general manager Mike Mayock had some huge misses in the draft during his three years with the team and that ultimately sealed his fate.
Ziegler isn’t going to have too many chances to impress as the Raiders traded away their first and second-round picks as part of the Adams deal. However, that doesn’t mean the team won’t figure out a way to get back into the first two rounds. Ziegler isn’t ruling out trading up in the draft.
“Those opportunities always exist,” Ziegler said at his pre-draft press conference. “You can look at some of the statistics of teams that are more willing to trade. Some teams are more willing to trade up. Some teams are more willing to trade back. There’s some teams, you look at their draft-day history, and they’re not willing to trade at all. We go through all that data, No. 1, to understand what some of the trends are of certain regimes, but we also work through those conversations. … If there’s a deal to be made that’s going to benefit the Raiders, whether it’s moving up in the draft, whether it’s moving back in the draft, those are always things that we’re going to be open to and entertain.”
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This Year’s Draft Isn’t Top-Heavy
With there not being a lot of top quarterback prospects this season, it’s a good year for teams to trade down. This isn’t a top-heavy draft. The Raiders could benefit from that as they won’t have a need at quarterback for a while after extending Derek Carr recently.
There could be teams that don’t love what’s available to them in the first round and would prefer to wait to see what happens next year. The Raiders could feasibly trade next year’s first-round pick for one this year if they really wanted to. The team is in a good spot as they don’t need to force anything but could take advantage of a team desperate to trade down on draft night. Just because the Raiders traded away their two top picks doesn’t mean they won’t be major players on draft night.
Players Raiders Could Look at if They Traded Up
The biggest needs the Raiders have are along the offensive line. They could also use an interior pass rusher and another safety. Two defensive players who could be worth trading up for are Georgia defensive tackle Jordan Davis and Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton. Both players have the talent to be top-10 picks, but if they start to fall in the draft, the Raiders could take looks at them.
Davis is more of a run stuffer than a pass rusher but he’s got elite athletic traits. He could be molded into a great pass rusher. Hamilton might be the best player in the draft but safeties aren’t that valuable to teams these days. He’d fill a big need in the defensive backfield for the Raiders and pairing him with Trevon Moehrig could give the team an elite safety duo for a long time.
As far as the offensive line goes, the Raiders could use an upgrade at right tackle. Trevor Penning out of Northern Iowa would be a great player to target. He could fall later in the first round, which would make it easier for the team to trade up. He might be a player who would be worth trading up for.