NFL Draft Advent Calendar-Door #8: The Raiders

We’ve already started opening the doors on TFQ’s NFL Draft Advent Calendar!  This is our Christmas – when NFL teams get to decide what sort of new toys they get under the tree to play with next season.

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OVERALL

Our Draft Advent Calendar is basically a (over)simplified way to appraise each team’s offseason moves to this point, and what roster needs still remain that could be addressed via the draft.  We’ve all had those years when nobody, fucking nobody buys what we put on our list.  We’ve all also experienced that shitty moment when we realize that the gift we want to get is no longer available in stores.  As such, we’re not going to predict which college players will go to which team.  Rather, we’re appraising each NFL team to this point, and what position(s) they might want to address when the last advent door is opened and the wise men start going off like a bunch of gun lobbyists.

Door #8 – The Raiders

Raiders

2012 finish: 4-12; missed playoffs

TOTAL PICKS: 7

ROUND 1

3

ROUND 2

no selection

ROUND 3

4 (66)

ROUND 4

3 (100)

ROUND 5

no selection

ROUND 6

4 (172)

37 (205) (compensatory selection)

ROUND 7

3 (209)

13 (219) (from Panthers)

If there’s anyone in history who has been screwed over by late Raiders owner Al Davis more than Marcus Allen has been it might be the franchise’s current general manager, Reggie McKenzie.

On Saturday, when TFQ opened the Cowboys’ door on this calendar, we noted that Dallas had extended QB Tony Romo’s contract at a high price in part because of the fact that the team was all but suffocated under the salary cap due to too many bad contracts.  Where Dallas was on the verge of being suffocated, Oakland had been buried as deep as Ryan Reynolds in Buried. Buried-Ryan-Reynolds1

© Versus Entertainment

‘If I keep staring at the flame, will the Raiders be able to upgrade their roster?.. I can’t breathe.  C’mon, flame.”

Likely not, Ryan.  The twilight of Davis’ life running the Raiders was defined by an array of personnel decisions ranging from risky to horrible – many of which are still impacting the state of this franchise.  Oh, that and losing a shit-ton.  And cementing future losing with said deals.  Let’s be honest – there isn’t ONE player on this team that could be let go and get ripped off for doing so.  Translation: No one is being paid to their value.  Hence the stifling cap space and just three draft picks in the first five rounds.  That’s because the Raiders are still paying for the trade for QB Carson Palmer (their second round pick this year belongs to Cincinnati because of that deal).  Even worse, on principle: Oakland has traded for QB Matt Flynn, and are all but guaranteed to move Palmer in a deal (to Arizona), effectively negating any future benefit that trading for Palmer had given them.

I’ll do what almost everyone should do at this point, and reserve judgment on Flynn until he plays at least TWO games in a row for the first time in his pro career – lest he become another Rob Johnson-type guy.

Let’s be honest – there isn’t ONE player on this team that could jettison and get ripped off for doing so.  As such, an exodus of players via free agency and releases has ensued, one so plentiful that it’s hard to isolate a single move.  One of the possibilities is DL Tommy Kelly, who was one of the highest-paid defensive players in history when the Silver & Black inked him to a deal that was the highest one granted to a defensive tackle at the time (in 2008).

With defense in mind, expect the Raiders to draft the top defensive player available at the third overall spot in the draft.  That would be DT Shariff Floyd – assuming that Kansas City goes with an offensive lineman with the first pick, and Jacksonville takes QB Geno Smith, as I discussed when TFQ opened the Jags Advent Calendar door.

Overall, Oakland would be best served trying to rebuild from the start with its meager draft picks (thank god they didn’t give up any of their selections in this year’s draft in the Flynn deal).  The best course of action is to solidify both lines, and the linebackers.  I’d mention more, but, well, the Silver & Black can’t address too many needs this year.

More about the Flynn trade: Sports Illustrated’s Peter King made some good points in his MMQB analysis of the deal.  One of the points I thought was most relevant was that McKenzie had been on the Green Bay staff that scouted and drafted Flynn, so maybe the decision to pick up Flynn wasn’t a typical kneejerk reaction that can happen at the sport’s most crucial position.  Also, King notes that Palmer was due $13 million next season under his contract.  Assuming that Oakland can trade him to Arizona (which is widely reported as inevitable), they will be washing their hands of a bad deal that had the former USC standout getting paid as much as Eli Manning is due to get paid this season – and half a million dollars more than Matt Stafford.  As mentioned earlier, the Raiders are so hamstrung by their cap situation that essentially trading $13 million (Palmer) for $5.75 million (next year’s salary for Flynn) was what I call “A Ditka” – a no-brainer.

It says SO much about how the Raiders have been run for the last several years that even this sort of a space-freeing maneuver under the cap barely enables them to start rebuilding beyond a lean set of draft picks.  It could be years before this team is anything less then laughable again.  But it at least looks like McKenzie has them turning around, instead of digging up, Wiggum-style.

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STAY TUNED FOR THE REST OF THE DAYS LEADING UP UNTIL THE 2013 NFL DRAFT.  WE’LL TAKE A LOOK AT EACH TEAM, AS WE OPEN THEM UP IN THE ADVENT CALENDAR.  WE’LL ALSO BE DOING A LIVE TWEET-UP DURING THE DRAFT.  

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