The NFL Draft is almost upon us and the Las Vegas Raiders were suspiciously quiet until recently. On Friday, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that the team could be interested in one of the top quarterbacks in the draft should they fall out of the top 10. If the Raiders really like a quarterback that much, it can’t be ruled out that the team would consider trading up into the top 10 to ensure they get their guy.
ESPN’s Bill Barnwell detailed a three-way trade that would get the Raiders the No. 7 pick, which is currently owned by the Detroit Lions:
I don’t think you can ever rule out the possibility of Jon Gruden falling in love with a quarterback. Derek Carr hasn’t been holding the Raiders back, of course, but remember how the Chiefs leveled up when they replaced the steadiness of Alex Smith with the upside of Patrick Mahomes? If Gruden thinks Justin Fields or Trey Lance have something close to that sort of ceiling, he’s not going to let Carr (or Mariota) stand in his way.
So, we have a three-way trade. The Raiders send a third-round pick and their 2022 first-rounder to the Lions to move up 10 spots and grab their quarterback of the future. Carr will start in 2021 and then become a trade candidate as he enters the final year of his deal in 2022, just as was the case for Smith in Kansas City. The Raiders also send Mariota, who just took a pay cut, to the Patriots for a fifth-round pick, where there will be a battle of Heisman Trophy winners at quarterback between Mariota and Cam Newton.
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Do Raiders Want a QB This Bad?
It’s fun to speculate this time of year but it’s far more likely the Raiders trade back than trade up. There’s no way they’re going to make a play at getting into the top 10. The team could’ve gotten involved in trade talks for Russell Wilson or Deshaun Watson but there’s been no indication they showed any interest.
Why would Jon Gruden ignore two proven superstars and then be willing to give the keys to his offense to an unproven rookie? He wouldn’t. Obviously, Gruden loves quarterbacks and is going to take a look at all of the ones available in the draft. Any quarterback drafted could be a potential opponent for the Raiders in the future so it’s wise to do his homework now. That doesn’t mean that he’s planning to do anything yet.
Raiders Have Much Bigger Needs
The Raiders are bringing back Derek Carr after having a career year and were able to retain Marcus Mariota as the backup. The team has an excellent quarterback situation and there’s no need to shake things up. Quarterback play has been far from the team’s biggest issue.
Using a first-round pick on a quarterback would be a very bad call. The two biggest things the Raiders need to find in the draft are a starting free safety and right tackle. Those are the most glaring needs on the entire roster. Luckily, there should be some strong options. If the Raiders can actually nail the draft this year, they might be a lot closer to the playoffs than people realize.
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