For the first time since 2012, the Las Vegas Raiders head into the NFL draft without a first-round selection.
That is, of course, unless Raiders general manager Dave Ziegler decides that it is in the franchise’s best interest to pick up a first-round pick, or maybe a second-round pick that the team also lacks in the draft.
It will take some work to get a pick in the early rounds, and that does not mean trading away tight end Darren Waller.
That is not happening when Waller is one of the top tight ends in the NFL and is still under contract for the next two seasons.
If Ziegler does make a deal, it could be a pick for a pick (or a future pick to move up), or to even acquire an additional pick in the later rounds.
“If there’s a deal to be made that’s going to benefit the Raiders, whether it’s moving up in the draft, whether it’s moving back in the draft, those are always things that we’re going to be open to and entertain if we ultimately think it’s going to be a good decision for us to add a good football player,” Ziegler said recently.
He added there is “always a chance for a trade.”
The 2022 NFL draft starts Thursday in Las Vegas and will go for three days. The first round takes center stage on Thursday night and the draft continues Friday with Rounds 2-3. The draft conclusions Saturday with Rounds 4-7.
Anything is possible during the always unpredictable draft.
But the Raiders will not have to think about selecting a wide receiver.
The Raiders acquired Davante Adams from the Green Bay Packers on March 17 and gave up their first- and second-round picks in this year’s draft. That was more than worth it for the Raiders.
While the wide receiver position is taken care of, Las Vegas needs to concentrate in other areas, particularly the offensive line.
It would be a surprise if the Raiders don’t address the interior offensive line in the draft since they didn’t address that in free agency, other than re-signing their own in tackle Brandon Parker.
There will be plenty of players available when they make their first selection at No. 86. Players such as Kellen Diesch, Dylan Parham, Sean Rhyan, Ben Brown, Zach Tom and Marquis Hayes could be available.
Derek Carr will need added protection, and the Raiders will look for help, possibly in the draft or post-draft.
It is quite conceivable the Raiders could draft two offensive line and use their other three picks or so on the defense, such as cornerback, linebacker and the defensive line.
Drafting a skilled player on offense is always a possibility, too.
Where are the Raiders picking?
The Raiders have the following picks in the NFL draft:
Round 3 (86)
Round 4 (126)
Round 5 (164) from New England
Round 5 (165)
Round 7 (227) from Carolina
What mock drafts are saying
The Bee took a look around to see what various sites are saying who the Raiders will go with, including The Fresno Bee.
NFL.com: 86. Otito Ogbonnia, DT, UCLA; 126. Skylar Thompson, QB, Kansas State; 164. Chris Paul, OG, Tulsa; 165. Baylon Spector, LB, Clemson; 227. Charleston Rambo, WR, Miami.
CBS Sports: 86. Calvin Austin, WR, Memphis; 126. Chris Hinton, DL, Michigan; 164. Myron Cunningham, OT, Arkansas; 175. Chasen Hines, OG, LSU (CBS Sports did a mock draft trade to acquire picks 175 and 211); 211. Chase Lucas, CB, Arizona State; 227. Sam Okuayinonu, EDGE/DL, Maryland.
Sporting News: 86. Dylan Parham, G, Memphis; 126. Thomas Booker, DT, Stanford; 164. Jerome Ford, RB, Cincinnati; 165. Cordale Flott, CB, LSU; 227. Austin Deculus, OT, LSU.
The Bee: 86. Kellen Diesch, T, Arizona State; 126. Marquis Hayes, G, Oklahoma; 164. Curtis Brooks, DT, Cincinnati; 165. Micah McFadden, LB, Indiana; 227. DaRon Bland, CB, Fresno State.
Note: The Bee conducted a mock through Pro Football Focus’ simulator and was given an A with the selections of Hayes and Bland. The overall draft grade was B+. The Bee did not conduct any trades (there were some proposals) and stood pat with five selections.