Jon Gruden has been the coach of the Oakland Raiders for less than two weeks. However, Gruden has helped make important decisions for the organization for much longer and may have been very influential in turning around the franchise’s fortunes.
According to MMQB’s Albert Breer, Gruden was a major advocate of Derek Carr before the 2014 NFL draft and made it clear to Mark Davis.
“Let’s back up to the 2014 draft for some history here. Oakland owner Mark Davis has been known to consult with Gruden on football matters, and Gruden made clear to Davis how much he thought of Carr, to the point where Davis wound up advocating to GM Reggie McKenzie that the team take Carr with the fourth overall pick. McKenzie and the staff wound up holding off the dogs on that one, and the rest actually played out perfectly. The team got a generational talent at 4, in Khalil Mack, and still wound up with Carr in the second round.”
What’s telling about Breer’s report is that Davis trusted Gruden’s advice so much that he would have passed up on Khalil Mack, arguably the best prospect at the time, for Carr in the first round.
During the 2014 NFL draft, Davis might have looked crazy to take Carr at the 5th overall pick, but it wouldn’t have been considered a bad pick now.
Obviously the team made the right decision to draft Mack since Carr was available in the second round.
Aside from the aforementioned advice, who knows what other moves have been made because of Gruden’s input that haven’t been reported. Judging by the way Davis looked at Gruden during the presser, there must have been others as Davis would probably trust anything that comes out Gruden’s mouth.
Consequently, Gruden might have been the head man years before he was ever officially reintroduced in Oakland (sort of joking here but not really). This isn’t to take away from Reggie McKenzie, as he has done a great job finding cornerstone talent in a few drafts, but this franchise seems to have been Gruden’s for the taking since the moment Al Davis died.
All in all, the whole situation ends up being quite funny. The move to select Carr might not have happened without Gruden and hiring Gruden as the coach would not have been possible if the promising Carr wasn’t selected in 2014.
But thankfully Davis listened to Gruden. So now Raider Nation has the possibility of an elite head coach and quarterback duo that, if everything goes right, could win multiple championships.