As I write this, the draft is about four hours away. But it feels like at least 18 hours.
That’s a normal feeling for those in the business of writing about NFL football on this day. You, the humble reader, can shelter yourself from the relentless barrage of utterly insane rumors and billowing smoke if you so desire, leaving me to nearly die in the burning building while finding the remotely useful nuggets and feeding them to you. Indeed, blog life is a hard life, he writes with the sound of an intense ping-pong match in his ear.
So as is the nature of this day, we’ve passed along some smoke, but much of it has still come with some sense, logic, and most importantly, some faint possibility. Will the Panthers really take Tyler Eifert even though they have much stronger needs? Probably not, but could you really criticize them for it in this the zaniest of drafts? No, no you couldn’t.
But then we have the Raiders, who could be about to do something that’s just so Raiders.
Oakland is currently No. 3 overall tonight, and after an offseason gutting — especially on the defensive side of the ball — they have multiple needs to address. But prioritizing those needs is crucial since they don’t have a second-round pick due to the Carson Palmer trade. This is the part when I remind you that Palmer no longer players for the Raiders (also: hahahahahaha).
With Richard Seymour, Tommy Kelly and Desmond Bryant gone, a defensive tackle is the top need, which is why Sharrif Floyd and Star Lotulelei have commonly been mocked to Oakland. But it seems Reggie McKenzie hasn’t read your mock draft.
Stun us, Jason La Canfora:
Several teams picking in the high end of the first round believe the Raiders, if they cannot trade down, will take Houston cornerback D.J. Hayden with the third overall pick, which would certainly qualify as the first shocker of this unpredictable draft.
Hayden has made a tremendous rise since taking a blow to his heart from a helmet in November and nearly dying.
Never change, Raiders. Somewhere, Al Davis is smiling and/or cackling.
Sure, Hayden has made an abrupt rise, mostly because he’s now healthy following the aforementioned life-threatening injury. And sure, he could challenge Dee Milliner to be the first cornerback off the board. But if they don’t orchestrate another trade to acquire more picks, the Raiders will wait 63 picks to address those gaping holes on the interior of their defensive line, long after the premier players at the position are gone.
In a draft where the best player available will be the default pick, sometimes there are better options. This is one of those times.