weather icon Mostly Clear

Raiders must consider trading up to draft C.J. Stroud

A few days before the 2021 NFL draft, most mock drafts had Alabama quarterback Mac Jones going to the 49ers, who had traded three first-round picks and a third-rounder to the Dolphins for the No. 3 pick.

Three thousand miles away, the Patriots faced a post-Tom Brady future without an identifiable heir. As much as any other team in that draft, the Patriots needed to secure their quarterback of the future. But by holding the 15th pick, it seemed dubious they would have access to any of the top five quarterback prospects.

There was a case to be made for the Patriots to trade up to strengthen their position. But inside a New England draft room that included the prominent voice of Dave Ziegler, now the Raiders’ general manager, the Patriots opted for patience.

Could the discipline they showed three years ago be the example Ziegler follows as he oversees his second draft for the Raiders beginning Thursday?

And could a similar outcome be the result, one that ends up with the Raiders drafting their quarterback of the future in Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud?

Or should they be more aggressive and trade up to select Stroud — or whichever quarterback they like the best beyond Alabama’s Bryce Young, the prohibitive No. 1 pick?

The Patriots’ decision to stay put in 2021 was multilayered. While they needed a quarterback, they were not going to pay a steep price to get one. They were comfortable with their options at No. 15, even if it wasn’t a quarterback.

The 49ers then pivoted from Jones and selected North Dakota State’s Trey Lance. Jones, who some argued was the second- or third-best quarterback prospect, fell to 15th, where the Patriots selected him.

Fast forward to this year’s draft and the scenarios the Raiders are sorting through. One of them relates to Stroud, who appeared out of reach to them two weeks ago but now seems like a real possibility based on recent reports.

The question now is, should they hold firm at No. 7, either to draft Stroud or be fine with their top-rated prospect? Or is the better approach to mitigate all risk by trading up to get him?

A look at the merits of both approaches.

Stay put at No. 7

It appears to be a foregone conclusion that Young is going to the Panthers at No. 1. Based on the polling of NFL sources, the Texans will pick a defensive player at No. 2.

It gets tricky at No. 3 with the Cardinals, who could go offensive line to better protect quarterback Kyler Murray or draft the top-rated defensive prospect.

Another option is the Cardinals trading the pick. And if the Raiders truly covet Stroud, they need to strongly consider making that deal.

Discipline is the key, though. And it could pay off.

The Cardinals have been shopping the third pick for a while. And while one could argue that teams are waiting to see what the Texans do before agreeing to pay Arizona’s asking price, it feels as if no one is truly motivated to make the jump.

If that remains status quo, a path opens in which Stroud falls to the Raiders.

It would require the Cardinals staying at No. 3, and the Colts at No. 4 selecting Kentucky QB Will Levis, whom they have been linked to for some time. The Seahawks then take either Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter or Florida QB Anthony Richardson at No. 5.

That leaves the Lions, who would be deciding among a group that could include Carter, Richardson, Stroud or cornerbacks Christian Gonzalez of Oregon and Devon Witherspoon of Illinois. In that scenario, Witherspoon, Gonzalez or Carter seem like the most logical choices.

Which, of course, means Stroud being available for the Raiders at No. 7.

If that doesn’t unfold, the Raiders could pivot to Gonzalez or Witherspoon are maybe even gather more picks in a trade back in which they select Penn State cornerback Joey Porter Jr. or Northwestern offensive lineman Peter Skoronski.

Get your guy

The Raiders are well positioned to draft a franchise quarterback such as Stroud. And if it means trading up to make it happen, they must do it.

Chances are, someone takes the Cardinals’ bait and trades for the third pick, likely to be Stroud. Even if that doesn’t happen, there’s the possibility of a team trading up to No. 5 or 6 and taking him.

The Raiders can eliminate those possibilities by trading picks 7, 38 and a conditional second-round pick in 2024 to the Cardinals to secure the quarterback of their future.

Contact Vincent Bonsignore at vbonsignore@reviewjournal.com. Follow @VinnyBonsignore on Twitter.

Like and follow Vegas Nation