Raiders can pick their spot in draft

Two selections provide ability to make a move

Pro Football

April 20, 2002|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,SUN STAFF

The Oakland Raiders lost their coach in February.

Today, they find their silver lining.

When the first round of the NFL draft unfolds this afternoon, the Raiders could become power brokers, thanks to the two draft choices they received for letting coach Jon Gruden depart to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Oakland got extra first- and second-round picks in this year's draft -- and next year's -- from Tampa Bay. With the 21st and 23rd picks of the first round, the Raiders are in better position to trade into a prime spot than any team except the New Orleans Saints, who also have two first-round picks.

As is usually the case, any number of teams with top-10 picks are looking to trade down.

The Detroit Lions (No. 3 pick) and Buffalo Bills (No. 4) are open to offers.

The Kansas City Chiefs (No. 8) are willing to trade down if defensive tackle Ryan Sims is gone at their pick. The Jacksonville Jaguars (No. 9) and Cincinnati Bengals (No. 10) are interested in accumulating extra picks.

The Raiders have the ammunition to trade places. If they do, how will they use the higher pick?

Conventional wisdom says they will go for one of the draft's top four defensive tackles because they lost two veterans in the off-season (Darrell Russell to a league suspension and Grady Jackson to free agency) and because they ranked 22nd in run defense last season.

But there is also a theory they will shoot the moon and grab the fastest wide receiver in this year's draft, Donte Stallworth of Tennessee, who ran a 4.2-plus 40 in his workout for scouts. Stallworth definitely would put the vertical back in Oakland's passing game, joining veterans Jerry Rice and Tim Brown.

Contrary to popular belief, trades are still a big part of the NFL draft, even in the first round. Last year, for instance, there were four draft-day trades involving first-round picks, and two the day before. Altogether, 14 of 31 first-round picks changed hands a year ago.

Who else is likely to broker a deal today?

Seattle Seahawks general manager and head coach Mike Holmgren wants to move from his 20th pick into a prime position, as well. Normally, Holmgren stockpiles picks and attempts to build depth in the draft. Not this year.

"It's different this year," he said. "I'm willing to move up in this draft. That would mean -- and we've got nine picks -- that if I needed to trade some picks to move up there, I would do that. I'm not sure I would do the Mike Ditka thing [trading all of New Orleans' picks in 1999 for Ricky Williams], but I'm willing to get up in there if I have enough ammunition. I would like to get the right player and the quality player."

Actually, Holmgren goes into today's lottery with 10 picks, having gained a fifth-rounder from the Indianapolis Colts yesterday for reserve quarterback Brock Huard, who is entering the final year of his contract.

Other teams who might be looking to trade up in the first round today include:

The Washington Redskins, from the 18th pick. They would love to collar quarterback Joey Harrington, but might not have the picks to do it.

The New York Jets, from the 22nd pick. They covet one of the top four defensive tackles -- Sims, John Henderson, Albert Haynesworth and Wendell Bryant -- all of whom figure to be gone by the 14th pick. Failing that, the Jets may trade down to increase their total of five picks.

The Cleveland Browns, from the 16th pick. Coach Butch Davis would like to trade up high enough to steal tight end Jeremy Shockey from the New York Giants, picking 15th.

One team that has been rumored to trade up but likely won't is the Dallas Cowboys. They'd like to get cornerback Quentin Jammer, who seems destined for the Detroit Lions at the third pick.

But a trade between the two appears unlikely because Dallas, in the rebuilding mode, wants to get two starters out of its first two picks, the sixth and 37th in the draft. A trade up for Detroit's pick almost certainly would cost the Cowboys that 37th pick.

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