The last time the Raiders picked in the first round, Al Davis and company selected Rolando McClain from the University of Alabama. That was two years ago. Since then, Davis has left this earth, McClain has left the team, and Mark Davis has left all decision making up to former player Reggie McKenzie.
McKenzie would waste no time putting his stamp on the draft, doing something I have no recollection of Al Davis ever doing: Trading back in the first round for extra picks. Of course, the art of the trade-back is not alien to McKenzie, who traded the No. 148 pick in the 2012 draft for the No. 158th pick and the 230th pick.
Last night, McKenzie spun the No. 3 overall pick into picks Nos. 12 and 42. Though, as CSN’s Paul Gutierrez points out, the Raiders lost value on the deal — according to the Trade Value Chart, anyways. “The No. 3 overall pick is worth 2,200 points while the No. 12 pick is worth 1,200 points and the No. 42 pick is worth 480 points,” Gutierrez wrote. “So by that counts, the Dolphins ‘won’ the deal, by 520 points.”
Still, given the depth of this trade, most any bounty would have been a good one. Besides the Raiders got the player they’d targeted all along: DJ Hayden.
“We got our guy,” McKenzie said at his post draft press conference. “As far as what we liked about him — the guy can cover. Point blank, he can cover. He can find the football so he does what we’re looking for in a cornerback. He’s a good cover corner who can get his hands on the football.”
McKenzie’s not the only one who thinks highly of Hayden.
ESPN Insider describes Hayden as a corner who “Plays very good awareness for the position. Maintains strong position in man coverage and flashes the ability to anticipate and jump routes. Also instinctive in zone. Plays with his eyes and does a nice job of marking targets coming into and out of his territory. Understands leverage, plays with good discipline and does not panic when he is caught out of position.”
Russ Lande of the National Football Post believes “DJ Hayden is one of the most athletically gifted and instinctual players in this draft, and all things being equal, would likely be a first round pick. He has elite deep and closing speed, and is extremely explosive breaking on the ball. He is smooth and fluid operating in space, allowing him to stay on his man’s hip in man coverage as well as effectively break and close from off the ball. He is also excellent in run support, as he is aggressive against blockers and has a knack for forcing fumbles by ripping the ball out.”
Hayden will certainly have his work cut out for him. Last season, the Raiders had the 20th worst passing defense in the league, allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete 66% while compiling an average QB rating of 97.5. Hopefully, he won’t have to do it alone, as McKenzie should look to add a pass rusher on day two.
Day Two, Rounds Two and Three
The Raiders will have the 10th pick in the 2nd round and the fourth pick in the 3rd round. While the options are limitless, for the Raiders, we can reasonably expect them to address another dire need: Pass rusher.
By my analysis, the Raiders could very well call these names on Friday:
Of course, McKenzie could take this team in any number of directions, especially with players like quarterback Matt Barkley, tight end Zach Ertz, and defensive end Cornellius “Tank” Carradine still on the board. Whatever they do, it should at least be entertaining.