ALAMEDA — Were the Raiders’ first draft pick on Day 3 to ever step on the field this season, it would signify the end of their playoff hopes and aspirations.
If more evidence was needed to show that general manager Reggie McKenzie views the draft as a mechanism for building toward the future as much as fortifying the present, it arrived quickly Saturday with the selection of Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook.
In fact, McKenzie did something he has never done in his previous four drafts _ he traded up and lost a draft pick to get someone. In exchange for going up to No. 100 to select a player who will probably be the third quarterback.
To get Cook, the Raiders gave up the No. 114 pick in the fourth round and one of their two fifth-round picks (No. 154).
They also bypassed available running backs, a position of need, with franchise quarterback Derek Carr on the roster along with backup Matt McGloin, a restricted free agent who was paid a second-round tender of $2.53 million. McGloin is eligible for unrestricted free agency next year.
“I was pretty surprised,” Cook told reporters by conference call. “I think Dallas was interested and they were trying to trade up. Derek Carr’s obviously a great quarterback. I’m going to learn from him and attempt to compete. I’m glad I found a home.”
Cook (6-foot-4, 220 pounds) was 34 games as starter, seven more than current Washington starter Kirk Cousins for the Michigan State record and fourth in Big Ten history. His 71 touchdown passes are the most in school history as are his 9,194 career passing yards.
Yet seven quarterbacks went before the Raiders made a move.
“I think I’m one of the best quarterbacks in this draft class, but nothing’s ever easy and nothing’s ever perfect,” Cook said. “Seeing all the other quarterbacks go hurt, but I’m ready to be a Raider.”
Pre-draft criticisms of Cook included a completion percentage of under 60 percent (57.5) and whispers that he wasn’t overly popular teammates and not a strong leader.
“I don’t think you can win that many games without being a leader,” Cook said. “I think all that stuff was so far from the truth and everything will work itself out. People will say stuff and have never sat down and talked to me. People are successful for a reason and that’s all I have to say.”