Already flush with a franchise quarterback in Derek Carr, the Oakland Raiders surprised everyone by trading up for former Michigan State signal caller Connor Cook in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL Draft.
It was a curious decision for the Raiders, who actually exhausted a fifth-round pick to move up 14 spots at the top of the fourth.
Though, the plan was clear for general manager Reggie McKenzie and head coach Jack Del Rio. Find potential first-round talent on day three, and not think twice about it.
In his first action as a member of the Raiders during their rookie camp, Cook apparently impressed the team’s brass.
“I think he’s been outstanding,” Del Rio said. “He comes in, had a tremendous career and is very humble,” Del Rio said, via the San Francisco Chronicle.” Obviously he is intelligent. He asks good questions. He’s got arm talent. It’s a matter of getting familiar (with) what we do and how we do it. I think he’s off to a great start.”
Cook was considered a potential first-round pick leading up to the NFL Scouting Combine in February. However, struggles during the annual event in Indianapolis coupled with questions surrounding his “leadership” led to Cook dropping all the way to the fourth round.
For the Raiders, the addition of Cook gives them a potential trade carrot years down the road.
Remember, the Washington Redskins selected fellow Michigan State alum Kirk Cousins in the fourth round of the 2012 NFL draft, the same draft that saw the team pick Robert Griffin III No. 2 overall.
Washington received a ton of criticism for that selection. But as we have seen with the Skins, nothing is really a given in the NFL. While Carr should continue to perform at a high level, that’s not guaranteed moving forward.
In this, the Raiders picked up a solid security option, one that could potentially act as trade bait should he impress during otherwise meaningless preseason games over the next couple seasons. They could also have someone to replace Carr should the young signal caller falter.