The Raiders have three first round draft picks at the moment, but Jon Gruden makes it clear that the franchise is ready to trade any of their selections.
No team has the ability to control April’s NFL Draft more than the Oakland Raiders. Jon Gruden and company have three picks in the opening round, but that doesn’t mean they’ll bring in three players on Day One. Instead, look for Oakland to be very active in trade talks right up until they’re placed on the clock.
Gruden is excited about working with new GM Mike Mayock to rebuild his roster. He raves about the quality of Mayock’s relationships all around the NFL. The executive’s familiarity with executives all around the league is a big reason why Gruden believes “there’s a lot of potential for trades” heading into the draft.
What’s unclear is what shape any sort of deal might take. The Raiders seem equally likely to move up or down depending on what other teams offer. All of Gruden’s transactions in his first year were designed to make the team younger and provide roster flexibility moving forward. It seems likely that his focus will shift significantly in year two with Mayock’s help.
That doesn’t mean the Raiders will immediately look to restock the roster with established veterans. Gruden says the organization is still looking for “blossoming young players” via free agency. There aren’t going to be a ton of players who fit that definition on the open market, but the Raiders seem optimistic they can unearth a few diamonds in the rough.
The draft is still going to be this team’s primary vehicle to improve in 2019 though. Fans were justifiably upset by the decision to move stars like Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper for draft capital, but those trades can’t fully be evaluated until the Raiders are permitted to draft and develop the players selected with those picks. It will take several more seasons to fully determine just how good or bad those deals were for the Raiders.
The good news for fans of the beleaguered franchise is that Mayock’s arrival should give the team a solid plan for growth moving forward. The deals they do or don’t make around the draft will now be a part of a coherent strategy for improvement. No one knows what that plan is at the moment, but at least the Raiders are working to form one with three first rounders at their disposal.