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Graney: Raiders landed perfect 1st-round pick in NFL draft

The NFL world has descended upon Las Vegas to stage one of the league’s biggest annual parties with its draft.

But what happens when you weren’t a central part of the first round in your own town? Like, when the major presence you offered was your quarterback and tight end being part of the opening ceremony?

Um, you added a potential Hall of Fame wide receiver to show for it?

The Raiders didn’t have a first and (for now) second-round pick after sending both to Green Bay for star wide receiver Davante Adams in March.

Translation: Any selection the Raiders could make with the now-Packers picks likely over time wouldn’t compare to what Adams brings in terms of skill.

There are no guarantees come draft time. Adams long ago proved one.

‘A worker’

“Davante is a worker, and he comes in with a purpose every day to get better,” Raiders general manager Dave Ziegler said recently. “And so, he’s just a dialed-in person. For him, this is something that he loves to do, but this is a business for him and it’s a job that he takes very seriously. And he comes in with that approach.

“I mean, this guy comes in with an approach to win the day and to get better individually. And it’s an approach that is really good for our young players to see.”

The first round commenced Thursday night, and all was calm on the Raiders’ front at the team’s headquarters in Henderson. If they stand pat and don’t move off their first pick, the Raiders select No. 86 overall in the third round Friday.

Green Bay, if you are interested, chose Georgia linebacker Quay Walker with the first-round pick secured from the Raiders in the Adams deal. All the draft’s top wide receivers were gone by then. Again, things worked out for the Raiders big time.

“We talked about that at pick No. 22 (which the Raiders gave up for Adams),” coach Josh McDaniels said. “We made that decision, and we’re very happy with it … The (first round) went about as we expected. It was pretty obvious how the board fell. Pretty quiet evening for us. (Friday) will be a little more exciting.”

If the Raiders would have had a pick of 22, who would they have selected?

McDaniels: “Davante Adams.”

Explosive offense

More than anything else, the trade of such lofty draft picks for Adams signaled the desire of Ziegler and McDaniels to win now. Elite talent costs plenty. It was the right call and then some. They needed to make a splash. It was massive.

One move they apparently weren’t interested in via rumors this week was trading tight end Darren Waller, perhaps to the Packers.

Waller will be 30 in September and has two years remaining on a (very) team-friendly contract. And yet I’m not even sure the Raiders could have received a No. 1 in return. Wasn’t meant to be anyways. At least not in this draft.

“(Waller) is a Raider and will be a Raider,” McDaniels said.

All indications are that the coach believes his can be an explosive offense led by quarterback Derek Carr. I’m not sure McDaniels wants to yet mess with any of those weapons that could make for one of the league’s more dangerous passing games. Knowing, of course, who is the leading name.

“(Adams) is highly accomplished,” Ziegler said. “He’s been very productive in his career. There’s a reason for all those things, and you kind of see that in his approach day to day.”

He was well worth the draft picks involved.

And who knows. The second round still looms Friday in which the Raiders could trade into before what is scheduled to be their initial selection.

Even though they had a first-round pick all along.

Ed Graney is a Sigma Delta Chi Award winner for sports column writing and can be reached at egraney@reviewjournal.com. He can be heard on “The Press Box,” ESPN Radio 100.9 FM and 1100 AM, from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday. Follow @edgraney on Twitter.

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