We are coming down the home stretch of the 2018 NFL season. This is where some teams can make a last-minute playoff run while other teams fight for a higher pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. Of course, by fight for I mean lose to get a higher pick. While many would like to believe tanking isn’t a real thing in the NFL I would argue differently. When you are mathematically eliminated from the playoffs a team’s sole focus should be turned towards the draft and how to improve their roster to the greatest ability.
With the draft order starting to shake out, the Oakland Raiders are in one of the most difficult spots of all teams. They currently are the second overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. The team is 2-10 at the moment and end the season with a tough stretch of games. For them, it would be in their best benefit to “tank” the rest of the season. Their roster is in desperate need of an influx of talent and a higher draft spot would certainly help.
Draft Picks Acquired, Lock and Load
It was made clear once Jon Gruden became head coach of this team that he was building for the long term. If it wasn’t clear when he was hired, it certainly became clear after he traded away the best player on the team on both the offensive and defensive side of the football. Luckily, the return for these players was great, as the Raiders currently have three first-round draft picks this year.
As it stands right now the Raiders own the second, 22nd (from Dallas Cowboys), and 26th (from Chicago Bears) picks in the draft. When the Raiders made these trades it did look a lot better, as Chicago wasn’t projected to win the division and the Cowboys looked to have a pick in the early teens. It’s safe to say neither of those aged well as both teams are gearing up to win their division and make a playoff run. Still, the bright side remains with the Raiders own pick at second overall.
Number One Option Not Available So What Next?
The best player in this year’s draft class, pass rusher Nick Bosa, looks to be a lock to go first overall. If that is the case, Gruden is about to find out the real meaning of pass rushers being hard to find. Bosa is a great talent and a major need for this team as well. If he is not available to the Raiders then it puts them in a little of a predicament.
Looking past Bosa there is a slur of defensive talent across the board. The next two best options behind Bosa are Alabama’s Quinnen Williams or Houston’s Ed Oliver. Both are special talents who would better any defensive line. However, when you look at the Raiders depth chart you see two young interior defensive linemen already starters.
Last year, the team spent a second-round pick on P.J. Hall. Would they really be that quick to move on from someone one year after spending a high pick on them? Probably not, to be honest. Then you look at the other defensive tackle position, which is currently being filled by fifth-round pick Maurice Hurst. Hurst fell in last years draft because of a heart problem but has been one of the league’s best run-stopping linemen this season. That’s a player the team definitely can’t bench. So if you can’t take the best pass rusher and don’t need interior help, then where do you go if you are the Raiders?
Where to Go Second Overall
Having three draft picks may allow you to get away with reaching for a player early in the draft. This opens them up to a player like Greedy Williams at cornerback or Justin Herbert at quarterback.
For many, Herbert might sound like a crazy draft pick. After all, they still have Derek Carr and he is carrying a big contract. Still, if Gruden has shown us anything since his tenure started, it’s that he isn’t afraid to move on from players to get “his guys” in the building.
On the other side, Williams would provide secondary help the team desperately needs. Second overall would be a bit of a reach but Williams is a true playmaker at the corner position.
Roaring 20s Could Be the Draft’s Sweet Spot
After potentially missing out on Bosa, the Raiders could look at their other two picks to address the edge need. This year’s pass rushing group looks to be one of the deepest we have seen in years. The class is loaded with talent from the top down, allowing for the Raiders to still get their pass rusher later in the draft.
Players like FSU’s Brian Burns, Mississippi State’s Montez Sweat, Kentucky’s Josh Allen, or even Florida’s Jachai Polite should all be options the Raiders are scouting hard. Each one of these players you can make a case for being the second best pass rusher. This will lead to teams having different preferences on which players they like best, allowing some to fall to the Raiders in the 20s.
With the other first round pick, the team should look to add a playmaker. In years past, we have seen a good amount of running backs taken in round one and have success. Unfortunately for the team, there doesn’t look to be a back worth taking this high. There is, however, a group of receivers that should treat any team.
Like the edge class, this year’s crop of wide receivers is loaded with talent. We have already seen a number of underclassmen declared that would fit the Raiders needs. Players like Arizona State’s N’Keal Harry, N.C. State’s Kelvin Harmon, Ole Miss’s D.K. Metcalf, or Georgia’s Riley Ridley could all be options for this team.
View the original article on Last Word On Pro Football: Oakland Raiders 2019 NFL Draft Outlook