There has been a great deal of speculation about whether the Raiders would try to trade up from the No. 7 pick in the NFL draft to secure a quarterback of the future.
But that’s not the only option general manager Dave Ziegler has for getting aggressive in that pursuit on draft night.
In version 3.0 of the Review-Journal’s mock draft, the first that includes trades, the Raiders explore one of those alternate routes.
Instead of mortgaging a significant part of the future to try to get into the top three, Ziegler takes a more patient approach and nabs a potential defensive cornerstone at No. 7.
Then, as the round starts to take shape, he and the Raiders decide to pounce when Baltimore is left without any of its preferred targets when the Ravens are on the clock late in the round.
The move allows the Raiders to get a quarterback that may not be available if they wait until the second round.
It’s just one alternative way the Raiders could take advantage of a significant amount of draft capital when the festivities finally get underway on April 27.
So here’s a look at one way the first round could play out, with a reminder that the Dolphins forfeited their first-round selection, leaving 31 picks. A player’s draft position in our previous mock is indicated in parentheses:
1. Carolina Panthers
(From Chicago Bears)
Bryce Young, QB, Alabama (2) — This is more about what they are likely to do than what they should do, so while Stroud may end up being the better player, there is enough smoke indicating the Panthers’ upper management prefers Young to make him the pick here.
2. Indianapolis Colts (Trade with Houston)
C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State (1) — Speaking of smoke, the hottest rumor of the week is that the Texans aren’t married to taking a quarterback with the second pick. If that’s the case, there’s no real reason to stay in this spot. So the Colts make the move to come up two spots and not allow any other teams to jump in front of them, giving them the opportunity to land the quarterback that may very well be at the top of their board.
3. Arizona Cardinals
Will Anderson Jr., Edge, Alabama (3) — The Cardinals are likely to seek a trade partner to move back in this scenario, but may not find one. Anderson is a great player and a great fit for a rebuilding team that could use a new defensive star.
4. Houston Texans (Trade with Indianapolis)
Jalen Carter, Edge, Georgia (6) — If the Texans were considering Carter at No. 2 and are able to trade down and still land their target, that would be an outstanding start to the draft. New coach DeMeco Ryans has already added a stable of interior defensive linemen, but Carter could thrive in this system and Ryans is a good fit to keep him in line.
5. Seattle Seahawks
(From Denver Broncos)
Tyree Wilson, Edge, Texas Tech (5) — Wilson isn’t a sure thing, but does possess the traits to give him a very high ceiling at a premium position. That’s the kind of pick you can make as a playoff team with an extra first-round selection.
6. Detroit Lions
(From Los Angeles Rams)
Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida (4) — The Lions go into the draft with the luxury of not needing an immediate solution at quarterback. But if Richardson falls, it’s an ideal situation to bring him in and allow him time to develop behind Jared Goff.
Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois (7) — This has been a pretty consistent pick. He’s a very good player at a position of need who could help right away and potentially develop into a cornerstone on defense. The physicality he brings to the position is a rare bonus trait for a cornerback.
8. Atlanta Falcons
Lukas Van Ness, Edge, Iowa (23) — Opinions are definitely split on a player whose projections far outweigh his production. Atlanta needs playmakers on both sides of the ball, and a disruptive force like Van Ness could help free up others on the defense.
9. Chicago Bears
(From Carolina Panthers)
Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern (9) — The Bears could turn the top overall pick into both a playmaker for Justin Fields in receiver D.J. Moore and protection for the young quarterback in a polished pass protector with Skoronski. It doesn’t hurt that he’s a local product.
10. Philadelphia Eagles
(From New Orleans Saints)
Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon (14) — When the Eagles were able to work out deals to ensure Darius Slay and James Bradberry could stay together, the need for a cornerback was drastically lessened. But they won’t be around forever, and Gonzalez could very well still be the highest-rated player on their board at this point. That could also be a reason to take running back Bijan Robinson here.
11. Tennessee Titans
Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State (13) — Robinson and quarterback Will Levis are possible here because the Titans need to turn the page on the contracts of quarterback Ryan Tannehill and running back Derrick Henry to start building for the future. Both could be traded around the draft. But regardless of the skill players, the Titans need a cornerstone offensive tackle, and Johnson is the right choice.
12. Houston Texans
(From Cleveland Browns)
Will Levis, QB, Kentucky (18) — The trade down at the top could work out really well for the Texans should things fall this way. They could still get the defensive player they wanted and a first-round quarterback talent, even if Levis isn’t a slam dunk.
13. New York Jets
Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia (17) — Assuming the Aaron Rodgers trade gets done at some point, the Jets need to find ways to protect him, and Jones could step right into a prominent role. They have invested in the line, but not every pick has worked out. Help is still needed.
14. New England Patriots
Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State (16) — Alabama defensive back Brian Branch seems like the kind of versatile weapon Bill Belichick would really enjoy figuring out ways to deploy, but this may be too early for a player without an easily identifiable role. While there are rumors of Porter slipping, his length and physicality are very intriguing. And it would be fun to see Joey Porter’s son wearing a Patriots jersey.
15. Green Bay Packers
Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah (15) — This just makes sense. The Packers could use a dynamic receiving tight end to aid the transition to quarterback Jordan Love, and Kincaid figures to be an elite pass catcher at the next level.
16. Seattle Seahawks (Trade with Washington)
Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State (20) — With the top three cornerbacks off the board, the Commanders look for a way to trade back and find it with a Seattle team looking to complete its offense with a playmaking third receiver.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers
Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee (24) — It seems almost too obvious that the Steelers will go with a cornerback or an offensive tackle, depending on which position has the best remaining player on their board. In this case, it’s Wright.
18. Detroit Lions
Nolan Smith, Edge, Georgia (8) — It would actually be a bit stunning to actually see Smith slide this far and very difficult for the Lions to pass on him if he does. Smith is a player the Lions could even consider with their first pick.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Myles Murphy, Edge, Clemson (19) — This is a tough spot for the Bucs, who might have gone into a full rebuild after the retirement of Tom Brady if they weren’t in such a winnable division. So they appear to be gearing up for another run at the NFC South crown with needs at several positions. Murphy could certainly help the pass rush, even if it’s not the most glaring area of concern.
20. Washington Commanders (Trade with Seattle)
Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland (22) — The Commanders trade down here instead of reaching for a corner like Banks four picks earlier. It would make it much more palatable to draft him here with the knowledge they were also able to pick up some additional capital.
21. Los Angeles Chargers
Jordan Addison, WR, Southern California (21) — Justin Herbert has some very talented receivers to work with, but there are certainly age, health and cost concerns in the receiving corps. Addison doesn’t have the greatest measurables, but it’s a safe bet that Herbert could figure out a way to get the most out of his immense skill set.
22. Raiders (Trade from Baltimore)
Hendon Hooker, QB, Tennessee (ND) — This is a big one. The Raiders need defensive players, but they already got one at No. 7 and they have 12 picks in this draft. While Hooker is coming off a torn ACL, there would be no need for him to play right away, and the Raiders have a quarterback room suited to mentoring a young player. The Ravens don’t see an ideal fit the way the draft board fell to them here and don’t have a second-round pick, so the additional draft capital would be very appealing. If the Raiders do want Hooker, they probably can’t wait until their second-round selection.
23. Minnesota Vikings
Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas (11) — Somebody finally does it. Robinson is probably one of the five best overall players in this class and only falls because of the declining value of the position. There are some whispers starting to trickle out about Dalvin Cook being available for a trade, and this selection would make that a probability.
24. Jacksonville Jaguars
Calijah Kancey, DT, Pittsburgh (10) — Jacksonville has done a great job stockpiling talent all around the field, but they could use some playmaking along the interior of the defensive line to really let some of the other stars shine. Kancey would bring that immediately.
25. New York Giants
Quentin Johnston, WR, Texas Christian (12) — The Giants just keep searching for a star at receiver. Johnston has the physical makeup to be that guy.
26. Dallas Cowboys
Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame (26) — Another pick that seems almost too easy. He knows how to create and find open space and doesn’t let many balls get away at the catch point. He would get a ton of receptions and make life difficult on opposing secondaries trying to keep up with the talented receiving corps.
27. Buffalo Bills
O’Cyrus Torrence, G, Florida (27) — Josh Allen continues to get beat up and is showing serious signs of wear and tear. The Bills need to find ways to protect him, particularly up the middle, and Torrence would probably go much earlier if there were more of a premium on guards in the league.
28. Cincinnati Bengals
Brian Branch, DB, Alabama (28) — The defensive backfield took some major losses, and Branch provides another versatile piece, along with last year’s first-round pick, Dax Hill, to help fill in the gaps.
29. New Orleans Saints
(From San Francisco 49ers via Miami Dolphins and Denver Broncos)
Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson (29) — New Orleans has visions of winning the NFC South now that quarterback Derek Carr is in place. Bresee could be an immediate factor to help shore up the line of scrimmage on the defensive side.
30. Philadelphia Eagles
Will McDonald, Edge, Iowa State (31) — The rich get richer as the Eagles add another piece on defense to help reload a relentless pass rush. Michigan defensive tackle Mazi Smith could be very tempting here, but McDonald still being available would be tough to pass up.
31. Kansas City Chiefs
Darnell Washington, TE, Georgia (ND) — Yes, they still have Travis Kelce and have needs at tackle, wide receiver and the defensive line. But at worst, Washington, a Las Vegan who played at Desert Pines, becomes an extremely talented sixth offensive lineman. The ceiling? Just imagine what Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes could do with a massive pass catching threat in single coverage.
Note: ND — Not drafted.