The Oakland Raiders have acquired the number one pick overall in the 2017 draft in a deal with the Tennessee Titans. Oakland sends two starting lineup regulars RT Austin Howard and TE Mychal Rivera as well as the Raiders number one pick in the 2017 draft (6th overall). The deal drew mixed reviews among the fans and media. Although there is excitement in bringing in a top talent, there are worries about how losing Rivera and Howard will effect the team.
The Raiders have stated there are three main reasons for making this deal. First, they feel there is a prospect who was lights out in recent interviews, is a top-pick worthy talent, and fills a primary need. Therefore they felt comfortable moving up for a player that could be a solid piece of the Raiders future.
Second, dealing Rivera and Howard frees up salary to sign a few free agents. One hole to fill is at free safety since starter Charles Woodson retired this past offseason. Another thought was it also frees up money to possibly extend Khalil Mack’s contract, the team’s best player.
Third, although Howard is a solid tackle, second-year pro RT Donald McMahon was waiting in the wings with tremendous potential to be a pro-bowl caliber player. McMahon arguably wound up being the Raiders most talented draft pick last season, and they felt he should start developing. Rivera was the best TE on the roster, but was necessary to complete the deal. This plays back to the second point though where the newly freed-up cap room can be used to sign another TE.
Many feel the Raiders will be going after a RB with the top pick given their anemic running attack over the past two seasons. Arian Foster led the team in rushing in 2016 with only 671 yards and a 3.23 yards per carry average followed by Dixon Loving with 162 yards. Newly departed RB Latavius Murray was third with 149 yards and a 2.44 yards per carry average. Also there are two or three top RB prospects in the draft this year. The Raiders new offensive coordinator Kody Lyght has known to work well with running backs which also plays to this line of thinking. Others feel the Raiders will simply take the best player available on their draft lists given this team has only won 7 games over the last two years, and need help in almost all areas.
Time will tell as the draft nears who the Raiders will choose, and time will also tell whether or not their gamble will pay off.