Though rumors are swirling about the San Francisco 49ers‘ link with every team in the top-10 in the draft, a possible deal with the Oakland Raiders is one that continues to persist. It is believed that the 49ers are desperate to upgrade their receiving corps, and would do just about anything to get into the top of draft to give themselves a shot at either Clemson‘s Sammy Watkins or Texas A&M‘s Mike Evans.
Oakland GM Reggie McKenzie is listening to any and all offers for the fifth overall pick the Raiders are holding. He’s clearly not adverse to trading down to accrue a few more picks to bolster his roster. McKenzie has yet to tip his hand about which players are on his draft board, let alone which players he’s truly targeting.
All of which has led the media to speculate that Johnny Manziel, Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans, Khalil Mack, Blake Bortles, or whoever the flavor of the moment might be will land in Oakland. But the idea that he is willing – and interested – in trading down is one that has gained some traction recently. Now, the rumors that name San Francisco as a potential dance partner has suddenly taken an interesting turn.
The latest rumor has the Raiders trading their fifth pick for San Francisco’s 30th in exchange for some unspecified future draft picks and one beastly pass rusher named Aldon Smith. It should be stressed that this is nothing more than unsubstantiated rumor gleaned from an unspecified “source in the Raiders organization.” So take this with as much salt as you need to.
Still, it’s an interesting proposition. McKenzie has spent a great deal of time and effort revamping the entire defense. He’s put together something the Raiders haven’t had in a while – a potent pass rush. Veteran playmakers like Justin Tuck, C.J. Wilson, Antonio Smith and Lamarr Woodley will join Nick Roach, Kevin Burnett and Sio Moore to give the Raiders one nasty defensive front.
That is a unit that has the potential to absolutely punish opposing offenses. Adding an athlete like Smith to the mix, somebody who is an athletic freak and knows how to get to the QB, is an intriguing proposition to say the least.
But of course, Smith comes with more baggage than you can carry on at LAX. There is the weapons charge from 2012, the DUI charge in 2013, and of course, his latest run-in with the law over his “bomb threats” in Los Angeles. He’s clearly become a headache and a distraction for the 49ers, but does that outweigh what he brings to the team’s defense?
Given that they picked up his option for the 2015 season, conventional wisdom would say that San Francisco is committed to him for the long term. But when it comes to football, “conventional wisdom” doesn’t always apply.
What remains to be seen is whether or not the Raiders would be interested in Smith. Of course, he’s freakishly talented and would further upgrade Oakland’s revamped defensive front, but McKenzie has been very deliberate about the type of players he’s brought in. He’s brought in players who are unselfish, blue-collar, “team first” type of guys. And given his track record, Smith has shown a very selfish, very immature side that doesn’t sit well with McKenzie.
But is it just a case of a young guy (Smith is only 24) simply needing some veteran leadership and guidance? Could the veterans McKenzie has brought in help mold and shape Smith, as we expect them to shape the youngsters already on the Raiders roster? Could they help him fulfill his true potential and be one of the most dominating forces in football? Maybe so.
Of course, that is assuming that the rumor – the latest in a seemingly neverending stream of them – is true. That said, it provides an interesting thought as we while away the few remaining days until the draft.