On a night that made a mockery of all the draft projections, the Raiders and 49ers both used trades to achieve their objective.
The Raiders were first to make a move, trading their No. 3 pick to the Miami Dolphins and moving back to No. 12 but also picking up the Dolphins’ second-round pick, making up for the one they had given up in the Carson Palmer trade.
Most of the early mock drafts had projected the Raiders taking a defensive lineman at this point, but as Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie had said at a pre-draft meeting with media on Tuesday, clubs give out a lot of misinformation in the weeks leading up to the draft. This was a prime example.
Had they kept that No. 3 pick, the Raiders were expected to take one of two defensive tackles, Sharrif Floyd or Star Lotulelei. Amazingly, both were still available at No. 12. The Raiders took neither one, instead choosing defensive cornerback D.J. Hayden, who has an interesting medical history. He almost died after taking a crushing hit in practice. The Raiders badly need a good corner because they are thin at the position.
The clips showed of Hayden on TV after the pick showed a young man with obvious defensive skills, and there can be no questioning his determination. The pick also clearly showed one thing: McKenzie trusts his scouts because this was obviously a pick made on their recommendation.
The 49ers traded with the Dallas Cowboys to move up to the 18th pick and drafted for need, a safety to replace the departed Dashon Goldson, but their choice was also a surprise, LSU safety Eric Reid, whose reputation is of a player who can make big plays but also looks totally lost in coverage at times. But the 49ers have an excellent coaching staff and can probably smooth out his problem areas.
The first round always gets the most attention, but the rounds that follow last night’s extravaganza will be very important for both teams.
The 49ers still have extra picks, so they’ll be able to add more players who can help immediately, and perhaps some who can help in the future. They have that pick from Kansas City at the start of the second round, so it would be a good idea for them to pick off Zach Ertz, Stanford’s tight end, if he’s still there. He would fit perfectly as Delanie Walker’s replacement.
The Raiders? Pick a position. They need help everywhere. McKenzie has had to do a thorough roster cleaning to get rid of high salaries and salary cap disasters — the Raiders were a league-high $31 million over the cap when he started — and it will take more than one draft. In fact, as he alluded to Tuesday, he’ll also be looking for undrafted players who could help once the draft is over.
The 49ers will be looking mostly for backups and may trade some of this year’s picks for better ones next year.
For both teams, though, you can expect more of the unexpected.
Glenn Dickey has been covering Bay Area sports since 1963 and also writes on www.GlennDickey.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.