The Oakland Raiders have more than doubled the number of draft picks they have available to them for the 2012 NFL draft in one day. No, they did not make a big trade, the new draft picks are compensatory picks that were awarded to the Raiders as a result of losing free agents Nnamdi Asomugha, Zach Miller, Robert Gallery, Bruce Gradkowski and Thomas Howard last off season. The Raiders received the second highest number of compensatory picks with three, and received the highest compensatory pick in the NFL with a third rounder.
At first glance, it may not seem like a very big deal that the Raiders received a 3rd, 4th and 5th round pick. After all, compensatory picks are sandwich picks that are added on to the end of the round they are given. In other words, after all 32 of the normal third round picks are completed, the Raiders will get to use their compensatory pick. So really, you could think of it as getting a 4th, 5th and 6th round pick.
However, while later round picks are not nearly as exciting or sexy as first and second round picks, Raiders fans should be very excited about these picks for two reasons. First, because prior to this, the Raiders only had a 5th and a 6th round pick available to them. Second, because with the new Raiders general manager, the value of these picks becomes much greater.
As many know, the Raiders were faced with a very difficult situation with regards to their ability to upgrade the team this off season. The Raiders were forced to make a number of cuts along with restructuring a number of contracts in order to get under the cap prior to the start of free agency. Once under the cap, the Raiders had very little money to spend on the free agent market. To make things worse, as a result of trades and the supplemental draft, the Raiders only had two draft picks in the 2012 NFL draft. These picks may not seem like a big deal, but when you have very few options to upgrade a team, the guaranteed addition of three players is not something to sneeze at.
In addition, the fact that these picks do not occur in the first two rounds of the draft is not nearly as big of a deal thanks to the hiring of general manager Reggie McKenzie. I have the utmost respect for Mr. Al Davis and do not intend to speak an ill word about him. However, it is no secret that he would often draft players based on their athletic ability. Davis would draft this way because he figured that you cannot teach athletic ability, but can teach football skill sets. This, however, was a big gamble to make. Sure, it resulted in getting some amazing steals in the draft, but it also resulted in some major draft busts.
In McKenzie, the Raiders have a general manager who is known for making very smart draft picks. In Green Bay, McKenzie received a lot of the credit for a team that is made up primarily of Green Bay draft picks. The Packers rarely dip their feet in the free agent pool, and when they do, it is even more rare that they do so with big time signings. Rather, they make very good draft choices so that they are able to fill their roster with quality players at decent prices. McKenzie has shown a knack for picking solid players throughout the draft, not just in the early rounds. This means that Raiders fans can expect to get a higher number of players who can contribute right away under McKenzie than they ever did under Mr. Davis, regardless of where in the draft they are chosen.
In a year where they need desperately to upgrade their team in order to keep up with all of the drastic changes being made in the AFC West, the Raiders may have lucked out big time with these three additional picks.