Raiders, 49ers need to move in opposite directions
Niners should bundle picks and move up in draft order; Raiders should trade No. 3 for lower ones
Published: Saturday, April 20, 2013 at 6:22 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, April 20, 2013 at 6:22 p.m.
Although the 49ers and Raiders will participate in the NFL draft starting Thursday, it's like they are taking part in two different drafts. Their needs and their basic goals are that different.
Let's simplify. The Niners have too many draft picks, 13, although a team never really can have too many, and the Raiders have way too few, seven.
What is the implication of those numbers, 13 and seven?
The Niners can package draft picks all over the place, and trade up with one or several teams to address specific — and serious — needs. The Raiders, who have the third pick in the first round — at least that's something — can trade down to get several more picks. If you want to get real basic about things, the Niners need skilled players in several positions, the Raiders just need bodies with a pulse, as in living, breathing human beings.
Consider the 49ers. They played in the Super Bowl and, if their coaches knew how to run a red-zone offense, not to mention a 2-minute offense, they might have won. You would assume, based on playing in the Super Bowl, the 49ers have few needs — just a couple of topper-offers here and there.
They are nowhere near the Raiders in total and utter neediness — who is? — but the 49ers are more needy than you'd think. They need defensive backs, and if you don't agree, you haven't been watching Niners football. And they need a speedy wide receiver and a backup tight end (so long, Delanie Walker) and a backup quarterback in case Colin Kaepernick gets blasted on one of his daring runs, and they need defensive linemen because Justin Smith isn't exactly a teenager.
Why do they require all these players? Because football, like life, is in constant flux and guys get old and new guys come in. The team that fails to acknowledge this endless cycle is a team that falls out of contention. One assumes GM Trent Baalke and coach Jim Harbaugh are acknowledgers.
Here's where their abundant draft choices come in.
They can package several picks for a few necessary players. They'd better package. They need to gift-wrap with a nice bow on top. You with me?
The 49ers have five picks in the first three rounds — the draft is seven rounds. Their first pick is No.31, next-to-last in the first round, no big deal.
The Niners have to package some of their first five picks and move up to mid-first round and take a cornerback. Fast receivers like Percy Harvin, now on the rival and deadly Seahawks, murder the corners they have now — Carlos Rogers, way too slow; Tarell Brown, way too small; and Chris Culliver, way too vulnerable and way too much of bigoted bigmouth to last long on the roster.
You see how this should work. The 49ers' smart guys must use their noodles to leverage multiple picks to get the specific players they need. If out of their 13 current draft spots, the Niners can get seven winners and a few more picks in 2014, they will have done well, even brilliantly. Their equation is to use more for less.
That equation has no application to the Raiders, the player-impoverished sad sacks of the NFL.
The Raiders, God love them, have the third pick in the draft, the third pick in the first round to be specific — or as draftniks like to say, the third pick “overall.”
Some well-meaning but misguided people want the Raiders to use the third pick to draft a boffo player. At one point, the cry went out for quarterback Geno Smith of West Virginia. Now that the Raiders are overpaying, as usual, for a quarterback — Matt Flynn — they probably won't draft a quarterback. But you get the point. Some people want them to make a big splash at No. 3.
To which we say: No. No. No. Do not use the third pick for a boffo player. Do not use the third pick for any player.
Because one player will make no difference to the Raiders. One player will not make them better. Two players will not make them better. Three good players and they're just beginning to make a dent. Their current roster is a collection of holes, a series of minuses. They need players and then they need more players. And because of Al Davis' shortsightedness — yes, blame Al for this one — they don't have enough draft picks to make up the shortfall.
These are some of the Raiders' needs, although there isn't enough space in this column to list all of them. You could fill the Manhattan phone book with their needs: defensive line, cornerback, safety, guard, offensive tackle, quarterback (unless you think Flynn is the real deal), tight end, wide receiver.
Am I leaving anything out?
Well, they may need a new head coach, but let's address that one during the season.
So, what should general manager Reggie McKenzie do? Mc-Kenzie must trade the No. 3 pick for a mid-first-round pick this year and a No. 2 in either this draft or 2014 because — reminder here — one good player selected at No. 3 won't come close to solving the Raiders' problems. If McKenzie doesn't trade down with this pick, he has a ton of explaining to do.
After he trades down, McKenzie must trade down again. He should trade that mid-first-round pick he just got to an even lower slot near the bottom of the first round. If he plays his cards right, or his players right, he also could pick up a No. 2 and multiple mid-and-late round picks. If he's creative, he could get as many as six players in 2013 and 2014 for the No. 3.
His mantra must be “Down and down,” or, “How low can I go?”
You probably want a tie-in between the Raiders and 49ers. You probably want this column to be thematic. OK, here's the tie-in.
If they are feeling adventurous, the 49ers could trade multiple picks for the Raiders' No. 3. Becoming trade partners would suit both teams and it would be a great local story.
Reggie and Trent, are you listening? Are you talking to each other?
For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at cohn.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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