Two years ago, both the Oakland Raiders and New York Giants were playing football in the playoffs in January. Now, both of these once-proud franchises are more often referred to as teams that “Alabama could beat” than as respected NFL teams.
Both of these rosters featured a mix of young and veteran talent, but now the veteran talent pool has aged and much of the young talent have either failed to develop or have been traded.
The Raiders have embraced a complete teardown of the roster under head coach Jon Gruden and are stocking a war chest of draft assets. The Giants have held onto their stars to avoid a heavy-duty rebuild, before finally accepting their fate this year when they moved cornerback Eli Apple and defensive tackle Damon Harrison well before the trade deadline.
In their final years in Oakland before moving to Las Vegas in the 2019 or 2020 season, the Raiders have embraced a complete rebuild by trading their young stars for draft assets.
They even moved on from some veterans on the roster. The rebuild began when they traded their best player, Khalil Mack, to the Chicago Bears for a package that included two first round picks. It continued when they traded Amari Cooper to Dallas for another first-round pick.
With three first-round picks in 2019 and two in 2020, the Raiders will be under immense pressure to nail all of their picks, since they gave up such significant young talent for them.
The main challenge going forward is whether they believe quarterback Derek Carr, who has been disappointing this season after signing a massive contract, can be their QB long-term.
With all of their draft picks, I would not be surprised if Gruden handpicks a quarterback and moves past the Carr era.
Another problem is that there simply is not much talent right now on the Raiders’ roster, and it will take more than one or two seasons to build a stronger team.
While the Giants have not embraced a complete rebuild, they must find their next quarterback, with the Eli Manning era seemingly coming to an end. Manning, and the offensive line, has been a disaster this season. He has struggled to move in the pocket and find receivers down the field.
With Manning on his last legs, the Giants should find a new quarterback who can maximize the abilities of running back Saquon Barkley and wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.
While they have not been able to get first-round picks like the Raiders have, the Giants have traded some of their key pieces on defense for mid-round picks. In recent years, several of the team’s first round picks have been disappointments (such as Apple and offensive tackle Ereck Flowers), which is one of the reasons the Giants have become a losing franchise.
Mid-round picks have not panned out well, either. The Giants’ 2017 fourth round pick running back Wayne Gallman has yet to score a rushing touchdown in his NFL career.
Their rebuild may depend on how they handle the quarterback situation, which is the most important issue they currently face.
Then, the team should focus on using their additionally acquired mid-round picks to fill gaps in the secondary, at the linebacker position and perhaps most importantly, the offensive line.
While the Raiders and Giants will face pressure in the next few NFL Drafts, the Giants have less of a margin for error considering seldom teams feature a duo as talented at skill positions as they do in Barkley and Beckham Jr.
Fans should expect the Giants to find a quarterback that can maximize the team’s offensive weapons. While the Raiders have five first round picks in the next two years, they traded elite talent and should expect to lose for the next few years.
Contact Matthew Frankle at [email protected]