The Las Vegas Raiders are about to commence in a potential franchise-changing offseason. Whether its the draft or through free agency, the Silver and Black first and foremost must think ‘strategy’ over ‘splash’.
There is plenty to be excited about as the Las Vegas Raiders look towards the 2020 NFL season. A new stadium, a solid core of players that exceeded expectations last year, and assets to leverage in the coming offseason. The Raiders exceeded expectations in 2019, but now they can raise expectations this coming season.
That all hinges, of course, on whether Las Vegas chooses strategy over splash in a potentially franchise-altering offseason.
The Raiders boasted an incredible 2019 rookie class because Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock hit the mark with their selections. They had three selections in the first round and held onto all three picks to improve different areas of the roster. They discovered gems in the later rounds like Maxx Crosby and Hunter Renfrow to maximize their draft capital.
All strategic selections that paid off, and then some, by the end of the year. Now, it’s important for Gruden and Mayock to keep that same mindset as they look towards the draft and especially in the free agency market.
Starting with the draft (which coincidentally will be held in Vegas) the apple of many Raiders fans’ eyes is Clemson linebacker, Isaiah Simmons. He undoubtedly boosted his stock in the College Football Championship Game, and Las Vegas is in desperate need of an upgrade at linebacker (perhaps the understatement of the century).
Why not package a draft pick and other assets for the (potential) to move up and select him? Because despite what we’ve seen on tape, Simmons won’t improve the need at receiver, or help provide depth in a young secondary. Case in point: the Raiders have other holes to fill.
Think strategy over splash.
The Raiders might be wise to take the best defensive player available at number 12 and then take their pick in a receiver heavy draft later on, or perhaps vice versa. The point is, that there’s no reason in giving away assets to improve your roster in just one area. Maximize the draft capital that you have at your disposal.
Speaking of avoiding a “splash” move…and sticking in the conversation of receivers…do we think the Raiders learned their lesson from a year ago?
Even after the Antonio Brown fiasco, the Raiders had a revolving door at receiver, opting to give away draft picks in the process. Zay Jones…Trevor Davis…both receivers acquired via draft picks, only to have missed the chance to make an impact. In a free-agent market with rumors swirling of Robby Anderson or Stephon Diggs being sought after, it might be best for Las Vegas to go the other route. Again, strategy over splash.
Why not compliment your stud in Darren Waller or third-down threat, Hunter Renfrow, with a young player in a receiver heavy draft, as opposed to committing cap space to an older veteran? In the former scenario, you can develop a younger player to keep as part of your core for the long-term. If a veteran acquisition proves to be a swing and miss, the cost (financially and figuratively) could be greater.
With added draft capital comes the flexibility to move up or down in the draft, and with the Raiders soon operating in Las Vegas we can assume more free agents will give the Silver and Black consideration. But the Raiders (perhaps more accurately, Jon Gruden) need to resist the temptation to make a splash move, with the hopes of it paying off later.
Implement the strategic thinking that helped pave the way for a spectacular 2019 rookie class. Leverage that same mindset in the draft, and most importantly, carry it into free agency. By filling out the roster with the right pieces, the Raiders can very well become a complete team sooner rather than later.