When it was announced that the Las Vegas Raiders had traded the versatile QB/RB/WR/KR/PR Lynn Bowden Jr. to the Miami Dolphins for their own fourth round pick back, I was livid. This presented two realities. Firstly, the Raiders traded away a good player with upside for essentially, Raekwon McMillan, a linebacker on a contract season. The second? That the Raiders spent a third round pick on a player so bad he wasn’t going to make the final 53. The truth? Is probably somewhere in the middle.
I was livid, but I’ve had a moment to digest it, think it over, talk about it with friends, and while it’s definitely not a win for the Las Vegas Raiders, it’s not as bad as it looked on the surface.
After a Moment: Coming To Terms With the Lynn Bowden Jr. Trade
The first positive in this trade is that the Raiders got their draft pick back. Essentially, they traded a third and a sixth round pick for McMillan and a fifth round pick. So, the real question becomes, is Raekwon McMillan worth a third round pick?
He had a 63.9 grade from Pro Football Focus last season, registering 72 tackles (35 solo), and three tackles for a loss. He’s a solid run defender, doing his part to keep the play in front of him. However, he’s a serious liability in coverage.
McMillan was so bad in coverage two years ago (gave up completions on 32/39 targets for 374 yards and six touchdowns) that the Dolphins basically didn’t ask him to cover anyone in 2019. He was only targeted 12 times, but he still gave up 10 completions for an average of 10 yards a pop.
Fortunately, the Raiders have coverage linebackers settle. That’s why they brought in Cory Littleton in free agency, after all. If McMillan becomes a starter in the defense, and especially if he produces well enough to get re-signed? Then a third is perfectly reasonable value.
The idea of Lynn Bowden Jr. was a great one. Some combination of Taysom Hill and Christian McCaffrey, he would come in and add some versatility and explosiveness behind the line of scrimmage for the team. Reportedly, Bowden didn’t “fit in” with the team. Maybe they meat as a player, maybe they meant as a person, we don’t know, but for whatever reason, he didn’t blow the coaches away.
While the idea was nice, but it’s not like the Raiders have had to trade away one of the receivers they drafted. While he would’ve been a fun toy in a perfect world, the Raiders have depth at running back. Josh Jacobs is the man in Las Vegas, Jalen Richard is pretty versatile himself, and Devontae Booker snuck into the mix as a potential change of pace back.
Jacobs showed he could catch the ball in college, catching 48 passes as a change-of-pace guy, and people forget, Jalen Richard led this team in receptions only two years ago. The Raiders aren’t lacking for versatility.
The Sad Truth
The sad truth? The Raiders missed. 2020 has been a bizarre year. The Raiders weren’t able to scout as proficiently, the entire pre-draft process was dramatically different, and honestly, training camp has been a nightmare because there haven’t been preseason games for the coaches to get a better look at these guys under the bright lights of real NFL action.
All 32 squads have had to deal with this, and in the long run, the Raiders won’t be the only team that has some bad misses. However, the Raiders are the only team so far to own their mistake. The vast majority of third round picks don’t become starters (only 12.6% as of 2016), and most of them end up off the team that drafted them anyway.
If the Raiders really thought Lynn Bowden Jr. would be someone that could contribute, they would’ve kept him. For whatever reason, he doesn’t fit into Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock’s plans, so why keep him?
Does it suck that the Raiders missed? Absolutely. Do I wish there had been a preseason so he could’ve had a real shot? Definitely. But if he wasn’t a part of Gruden’s plan? Then it’s best that they could get something in return for him now.
It’s not like the Raiders ever got anything back in return for the other dozen busts from the last twenty years.