Agents all over the country are buzzing that Al Davis is about to pull another master stroke, trading up for Houston’s third pick in Tuesday’s draft so that the Raiders can select Purdue quarterback Jim Everett.
Or, they say, he’ll trade for the St. Louis Cardinals’ fifth pick, or maybe even the New Orleans Saints’ sixth.
Maybe they’re right, but a Raider official says it’s all silly gossip, that nothing is happening with the Oilers, Cardinals, Saints or anybody.
It’s not that the Raiders wouldn’t like to trade up and draft Everett. They can’t.
“We don’t have the ammunition,” the official said. “Teams won’t trade with us this time of year. The only time they call us is when they want to trade some broken-down old veteran.”
Unless the Raiders make a move, they will be stuck with their own pick, No. 24 in the first round. They have no second-round selection, having sent it to the Philadelphia Eagles for Jerry Robinson.
They would like an offensive tackle. The draft is rich in the huge ones they like and their own--Henry Lawrence, Bruce Davis and Shelby Jordan--are 34, 29 and 34, respectively.
They are prepared, however, for the possibility that the ones they like will be gone by the time they pick. Those include USC’s James FitzPatrick and Texas A&M;'s Doug Williams, as well as the top-rated Brian Jozwiak of West Virginia and Virginia’s Jim Dombrowski, not to mention huge guards who might make pro tackles, like Temple’s John Rienstra and Vanderbilt’s Will Wolford. Thus, they say they can’t afford to be picky.
One name to remember is Gary Zimmerman. He’s the former Los Angeles Express tackle who was projected as an NFL first rounder when he went to the USFL. He now belongs to the Memphis Showboats or the New York Giants. He has sued the Giants, obliging them to try to trade him.
The Raiders are interested--"They have been from the start,” said a source close to Zimmerman--but can’t give the Giants what they want, a chance to move up on the first round. The source said that if the Giants get the player they want with their own pick, 19th overall, they might then turn around and trade the rights to Zimmerman for the Raiders’ No. 1 pick. Other positions of acknowledged Raider need include:
--Running back-fullback: Davis told Marcus Allen after the playoff loss to the New England Patriots that he wouldn’t be such a workhorse again next season. Kenny King’s star has set and he has asked to be traded. A year ago, the team went looking for a bigger fullback, didn’t find one and turned 5-9, 210-pound Frank Hawkins into a third guard.
The accompanying mock draft speculates that the Raiders will take Texas Christian’s 5-10, 215-pound Kenneth Davis, a top prospect until he was thrown off the team early in his senior season after acknowledging that he had taken illegal aid. The Raiders were one of the teams that tried him out, and Davis is said to have looked wonderful in workouts. A Raider source, however, said the speculation is wrong, that Davis is not their man. And the Raiders say they don’t like the fullbacks in this draft much.
However : There are a lot of other terrific tailbacks around. Possibilities for the Raiders include SMU’s Reggie Dupard, Washington State’s Rueben Mayes and the X-factor of the draft, Ohio State’s injured Keith Byars.
--Secondary: Lester Hayes bounced back to have a good second half of the season, but he’s 31, which is up there for a 200-pounder playing the corner.
However: This draft is thin in cornerbacks. If Hayes is to be challenged this season, it will probably be by the newly switched Sam Seale.
--Defensive line: The Raiders appear set with Howie Long, Bill Pickel, Greg Townsend, Sean Jones and Mitch Willis, all 26 or younger. But Lyle Alzado has just retired and a Raider official said: “You can never have enough here.” The draft is thin here, too, so it doesn’t seem likely. And if the Raiders do pick a defensive lineman high, he isn’t likely to play much for a while.
But all Raider speculation pales compared to that surrounding their quarterbacks:
--Are they still trying to trade Marc Wilson to the Eagles?
Davis was ready to make the deal for a draft choice, and reportedly to pay $600,000 of the $1.9 million remaining on Wilson’s contract. When the Eagles hesitated, Davis said he was taking Wilson off the market. The Eagles told reporters covering their team that the Raiders weren’t saying that to them.
--Do they still give themselves a chance of landing Jim Kelly?
The Raider front office was rooting for some kind of master stroke to rescue Kelly from the USFL and the Buffalo Bills, who own his NFL rights. The Bills froze everyone in place by putting the word out they were about to file a tampering charge. In a year, however, the Bills will have only the right of first refusal. Does Davis plan to make another try?
--Would the Raiders really go with Rusty Hilger?
Coach Tom Flores has suggested that they would, but lots of agents say they don’t believe it.
--Would the Raiders really try it again with 38-year-old Jim Plunkett?
--Will they draft a quarterback?
Not without difficulty. They’d have to deal to get a shot at Everett, whom one Raider official called “the only quarterback in the draft.” This suggests a lack of interest in Chuck Long, whose arm isn’t strong enough to play Raider ball according to the Raiders, along with Robbie Bosco, Jack Trudeau and the others.
Some of the answers will be forthcoming Tuesday, or, who knows, before.