There is no doubt that these past two weeks have been a roller coaster for Oakland Raiders fans. The firing of Jack Del Rio and the hiring of Jon Gruden signifies change coming to this organization. Will that change be seen on draft day?
The Raiders have a variety of holes on both sides of the ball. With that being the case, it would make sense for them to stay put where they are and draft best player available in order to fill those needs. However, what if they didn’t?
Gruden is an offensive minded coach and when it comes to talent evaluation knows exactly what it is that he likes. With the drastic turnaround that this offense needs in order to compete, he may look at it as in the Raiders best interest to trade up and grab Saquon Barkley out of Penn State.
Saquon is easily the best running back in this years draft class. He can run, catch, block, and do just about anything that you ask of him. The Raiders haven’t had a consistent playmaker at running back since Darren McFadden and even then his injuries played a big role in ability.
Latavius Murray and Marshawn Lynch had both proven to be capable backs in this system, but they were not the dominate backs that this regime had hoped. Barkley appears to be talented enough to be another great running back in this league.
A back of Saquon’s caliber would certainly boost this offense. He would take pressure off of Carr and force defenses to pay more attention to the run game, allowing Cooper to be in more one-on-one coverage in the pass game. These are just a few of the possibilities that could come in drafting Barkley.
Many people will point to the fact that, in general, Reggie Mckenzie does not trade up for players in the draft. This is true. However, the hiring of Jon Gruden looks to be something that was done by Mark Davis that went over the head of Reggie. This means that when it comes time on draft day, the decision to trade up may be something that ends up in Gruden’s court rather than Reggie’s.
The one thing that could be considered, is, how much would it cost? In all likelihood the Raiders would need to jump to the number three pick in order to get ahead of the Browns at number four. This might cost a whole lot depending on what that slot is valued at. No one knows what the Raiders may consider if they are in this position on draft day. One thing is for sure, though, this might be the most interesting Raiders draft in quite a while.