Dec 8, 2013; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Oakland Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie and owner Mark Davis on the field before the game against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Draft day trade down with Niners fails to make sense

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Recently ESPN’s Chris Moretensen claimed that he hear “multiple sources” that the San Francisco 49ers are looking to do something major in the 2014 NFL Draft, with their prize target being Texas A&M wideout Mike Evans who has excelled in a partnership with quarterback Johnny Football on the way to being regarded as the second best receiving talent in his class.

With the Oakland Raiders being pegged as likely trade down candidates and general manager Reggie McKenzie already trading down in the first round of last year’s draft many have taken Mortensen’s comments and attached the Raiders as a likely trading partner with San Francisco who draft 30th in the first round.

Other than making for a good story (hey the Raiders and Niners play in the same market!) the idea of McKenzie being willing to trade the fifth pick in the draft to his Bay Area/Santa Clara neighbors makes ZERO sense.

Here is why.

Impact Players 

As you all know by now the Oakland Raiders hold the fifth pick in this year’s draft, a position that actually suits the team quite well even if they may miss out on the likes of Jadeveon Clowney and perhaps even Clemson’s Sammy Watkins by the time the first four teams have their say.

Provided that Clowney and Watkins are gone by the time the Raiders are on the clock that leaves the following shortlist of players that McKenzie would have a realistic chance of securing if he wishes to use the fifth pick.

  • Greg Robinson
  • Khalil Mack
  • Jake Matthews
  • Mike Evans
  • Derek Carr
  • Teddy Bridgewater
  • Johnny Manziel
  • Aaron Donald
  • Justin Gilbert
  • Eric Ebron
  • Taylor Lewan
  • Anthony Barr
  • Odell Beckham Jr.

Here are the players that McKenzie would have a realistic chance of landing at #30 if he wished to trade down with the Niners.

  • Ra’Shede Hageman
  • Louis Nix
  • Carr/Bridgewater/Manziel/Bortles (provided they fall)
  • Stephon Tuitt
  • Brandin Cooks
  • Kony Ealy
  • Timmy Jernigan
  • Scott Crichton
  • Dominique Easley
  • Morgan Moses
  • Davante Adams
  • Zach Martin

Throwing out the fact that the Raiders could simply wait a few short selections and hope to land one of the players on this list with the early pick in the second round for now, the contrast in the quality of prospect the Raiders could expect to land at #5 compared to in the dark depths of the #30 spot is stark. Nothing against these prospects, but each player on that list is in the late first round due to being significantly less polished, having an injury in college, or potential “character issues”

A direct trade down would result in the Raiders picking up two lower end talents instead of one high end prospect in addition to a player off of this list. With so many potential gamechangers inside of the Top 15 in this draft I truly believe that Reggie McKenzie would be unwilling to slide any farther than he did last year when he stayed within the first fifteen picks to select his guy in Houston cornerback DJ Hayden. The fact that the Raiders pick just five picks away from #30 just makes it even more mind boggling that this is being considered.

Which brings us to….

Draft Positioning 

Oakland’s value of the fifth pick in the draft is valued at 1700, the benefit of having a terrible season. That also means that the Raiders picks are already significantly more valuable than the average team in the NFL for every round, making trading up far more strategically sound than considering a trade down with San Francisco as the Raiders second round pick is nearly on par with the Niners first round selection.

With the Raiders selecting early in the draft, they could package picks in the later rounds at nearly the same “value” as the Niners can with their selections a round in front of Oakland. The potential to lure a team like the Rams or Browns who have multiple first round selections to ensure they land the top player on their board in a trade up situation sounds a lot better than what would be needed for the Niners to land the Raiders first pick in a straight draft pick swap.

In fact the Niners would have to trade each one of their 10 tradeable picks to come close to matching the “value” of the Raiders fifth pick based on the Draft Value chart. All of San Francisco’s picks in the draft, even the ones that aren’t their extremely late selections, add up to just 1650. Meaning unless the Niners are willing to part with some proven talent elsewhere to land a rookie wideout getting the Raiders pick without doing some serious maneuvering is going to be an issue.

The Draft Value Chart isn’t set in stone, and McKenzie showed last year he isn’t afraid to remind us of that with his trade to get DJ Hayden. However, it is crystal clear that the Niners front office would need to fork up a considerable offer in order to get up all the way to the Top 5 from the 30th pick.

Better Partners for Both Teams 

This may be the most important deciding factor in why a Raiders-Niners Draft deal makes little sense and needs to go away, both teams can find better partners and very likely still get what they want out of the deal.

Should Sammy Watkins be selected before the Raiders are on the clock, there are going to be teams that will also be considering jumping up from their position to ensure that they can get Mike Evans that suit Reggie McKenzie’s obvious desire to stay within the Top 15 if possible. Namely the Detroit Lions, or even lesser considered teams such as the Bills or Giants that are looking for their wideout of the future could enter the bidding war and all are drastically better options.

As for the Niners, they know they are going to have to present a Godfather offer to get into any pick that gives themselves a comfortable chance of landing Evans. Getting themselves into the Top 15 or Top 20 range would give them a realistic chance at the third wideout on their board without having to sell the farm either, but unless they are interested in shedding existing talent it is undeniable that they would have more luck with realistic expectations rather than hoping for a Hail Mary trade up like is being reported.

Anything is Possible 

Despite the deal making very little sense in theory, this is the NFL Draft and anything is possible with Reggie McKenzie who is a very open thinker that loves to get as much value as possible out of nearly everything to do with his roster. A decent package of picks may be enough for him to ignore obvious changes in potential talent acquired, pick value, and the fact he could trade up far more easily than the Niners ever could to make a deal. I just don’t see a Bay Area blockbuster next Thursday. I have been wrong before, but when it comes to hyping a Raiders-Niners trade it is time to press mute and ignore the narrative.

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