Thanks to trades made during and before the 2018 season, Jon Gruden’s Raiders have three first round picks. They pick at number four, twenty-four, and twenty-seven. To be honest, the NFL draft is a crapshoot. 14 of the 30 quarterbacks taken in the first round over the last ten years are on different teams now, meanwhile the New England Patriots are about to go to their eighth straight AFC Championship starting the guy they took 199th pick overall.
But it still stands to reason that the higher a team picks, the more likely it is that they’ll pick a great player. It’s hard to determine who is or isn’t great, but you’re more likely to pick someone who will help your team if you pick first, so it’s easy to understand why Raiders fans were a little upset that the Chicago Bears and Dallas Cowboys played well, dropping their picks into the late twenties.
Sure, the Raiders would prefer to have three picks in the top ten, but that doesn’t mean the picks are worthless. A first round pick is still a first round pick. To prove it, I went back through every draft since the NFL/AFL merger, and looked at the fourth, 24th, and 27th picks in every single class. Here’s what I found.
The History of the 4th, 24th, and 27th Draft Picks
The Fourth Pick
Here are a few notable players that have been selected with the fourth pick in the first round of the draft since the merger. Quarterbacks Bob Griese and Philip Rivers, tailbacks Edgerrin James, Walter Payton, and Ezekiel Elliott, wide receivers Amari Cooper (sorry) and A.J. Green, offensive linemen John Hannah, Jonathan Ogden, D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Trent Williams, and Lane Johnson, defensive linemen Dan Hampton, “Mean” Joe Greene, and Chris Doleman, linebackers Derrick Thomas and Willie McGinest, safety Kenny Easley, and a defensive back you may have heard of named Charles Woodson.
The Raiders have had the fourth pick four times in their history. They selected Cooper, tailback Darren McFadden, C-Wood, and defensive tackle, Joe Rutgens. That’s not a bad group. McFadden was the only Raider there that didn’t make it to the Pro Bowl as a member of the Silver and Black, and we all know he could’ve if he had just stayed healthy.
The 24th Pick
Here are a few notable players that have been selected with the 24th pick in the first round of the draft since the merger. Defensive backs Ed Reed, Jonathan Joseph, and Gareon Conley, tailbacks DeAngelo Williams and Steven Jackson, offensive lineman David DeCastro, pass rusher Cameron Jordan, tight end Dallas Clark, wide receiver Dez Bryan, and quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
The Raiders have had the 24th pick on five different occasions in their history. Over that time, they took Conley, quarterback disaster Todd Marinovich, Bob Buczkowski, Neal Colzie, and tight end Raymond Chester. That’s a tough group. The jury is still out on Conley, Marinovich was so bad they made a movie about it, and with the exception of Chester, the others only made cameo appearances on the team.
The 27th Pick
Here are a few notable players that have been selected with the 27th pick in the first round of the draft since the merger. Defensive backs Tre’Davious White, Jimmy Smith, and Devin McCourty, wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, tailback Larry Johnson, and some quarterback named Dan Marino.
Believe it or not, the Raiders have never had the 27th pick in the draft before. But more on that in a minute.
The 35th Pick
Technically, the 35th pick in this draft isn’t a first rounder, but it’s close enough! Here are some good players that have been taken with the 35th pick in the draft since the merger. Running backs Nick Chubb, Christian Okoye, Mike Alstott, tight ends Alge Crumpler, Zach Ertz, and Hunter Henry, linebacker James Laurinaitis, offensive lineman Joel Bitonio, quarterback Andy Dalton, and corner Charles Tillman.
The Raiders have had this pick twice before, taking defensive back Mike Davis and defensive end, Mario Edwards Jr. In 2014, the Browns had the 35th pick, and they used it on Bitonio, freeing up the Raiders to take some guy named Derek Carr.
As I said before, the Raiders have never had the 27th pick. The Raiders have never had the 13th, 20th, 27th, 29th, or 30th pick in the history of the draft, and that’s a little depressing when you consider that they had no problem getting 15 of the first 18 of the first twenty selections. Here’s hoping the brain trust of Gruden and Mike Mayock nail these picks, and the Raiders can scratch off one of those numbers next year.