Each year, January is when NFL mock drafts begin to really pick up steam. The conclusion of the NFL regular season coupled with the wrapping up of college football's bowl season means the draft process is officially underway. Later in the month the college All Star games begin and the process moves into overdrive. For now though, people will be throwing out their predictions of first and second round picks for just about every NFL team.
One team that will not be a part of most of these mock drafts will be the Oakland Raiders. The franchise has made numerous trades over the last year to build for now, and that has left them short of 2012 draft picks. The team was ravaged by injuries, which cost them a playoff spot. Unfortunately the draft is an unforgiving beast and the Raiders remain without their picks.
To date, the Raiders made the following trades involving 2012 NFL draft picks:
1. First round pick and a conditional 2013 second round pick (that could become a first with a playoff win) for Carson Palmer.
2. Second round pick as part of package for 2011 picks
3. Third round pick forfeited after selecting QB Terrelle Pryor in the 2011 Supplemental Draft
4. Fourth round pick traded for QB Jason Campbell
5. Seventh round pick traded as package for Aaron Curry
If you were not keeping count, three of their first four picks in 2012 were dealt away for quarterbacks, with only one of those quarterbacks active for the close of the season.
While it is easy to shake your head at some of the deals, if Darren McFadden stays healthy, the Raiders go to the playoffs and likely do some damage. While the Raiders did give up too much for Carson Palmer, you could make the argument that if they get to a Super Bowl next year (obviously pending a lot of health issues), the deal is worth it. The whole point of the NFL is to win. They did appear to overpay, but they could not predict all the injuries that occurred.
We won't be able to do provide much in the way of mock drafts for the Raiders, but we will be able to at least hunt for sleepers they may consider with their day three picks. Some great players have come out of the late rounds, so there is a chance the Raiders can find some serious depth help with the right guys late.