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Rashan Gary is a freak athlete who could make sense for Raiders should they trade down in the top of the first round

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Last year, Jon Gruden traded down in the draft for freak athlete left tackle Kolton Miller. This year, freak athlete edge-rusher Rashan Gary is in the draft. Will Gruden bite?

NCAA Football: Ohio State at Michigan Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

What will the Oakland Raiders do at the No. 4 overall pick in this year’s draft?

Edge-rusher is the team’s greatest need as the team had a league-worst 13 sacks in 2018. Joey Bosa of Ohio State and Josh Allen of Kentucky look like good candidates to try to replace Khalil Mack but they may not be available at No. 4 overall. However, the Raiders could trade down and get a player who could have more upside than either of them.

Michigan defensive end Rashan Gary is 6’5”, 280 pounds and ran a 4.57 40-yard dash at Michigan’s last spring combine. He also broad jumped 9-6 and ran a 6.70 in the 3-cone drill. The 3-cone drill is good to measure an edge-rusher’s ability to turn the corner. If those times are legit, his 3-cone drill time is .01 faster than former Raiders receiver Amari Cooper and the same as Von Miller. And to put Gary’s 40 time in perspective, Julius Peppers ran a 4.68 40 at 6’7”, 280 pounds.

To go along with all the physical gifts he has, Gary is a hard worker. Former Baltimore Ravens edge-rusher Bart Scott has known Gary since he was a kid and swears by him.

“He hasn’t even scratched the surface yet,” Scott told CBS. “He’s a hard worker. I can remember in eighth grade he started working out with me and we were pushing him.

On tape, that speed shows up from step one in the run game and as a pass-rusher. He also has a high motor that shows when he runs down quarterbacks, running backs and sometimes receivers from long distances. In the run game he’s disruptive with his 1st-step quickness and he will chase the play down when you run away from him. As a pass-rusher, he bends the edge exceptionally well for a man his size

With his tremendous size he has the strength and power to go with it as he uses that and his long arms to anchor, stack and shed in the run game. As a pass-rusher, he can use that power and strength to simply bull-rush or use his length for a 1-arm stab like Mack does. With just that, Gary should have had at least 12 sacks in 2018 but he finished with just 3.5.

As far as technique goes, he used his hands well when he did use them last season. But he was hampered by a sprained AC joint in his shoulder that caused him to miss three games and play limited snaps in others before missing the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl. Gary was a top-3 pick coming into last season so his coming back tells you a lot about his character.

One negative is there were times he took too long to disengage from blocks. His injury could have had something to do with it but some of it is he needs more moves in his arsenal so he isn’t so predictable. It would have been nice to see him use the moves he did well like his 1-arm stab more often too. That’s where defensive line coach Mike Trovac comes in.

He has worked with freaks like Gary as he was Peppers’ position coach and defensive coordinator from 2002 to 2009. Peppers had his career high 14.5 sacks under him in 2008. Trovac was his position coach again from 2014 to 2017 and Peppers had two double-digit sacks seasons over the age of 35 with his last one (11) being in 2017.

Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther likes his DE’s extra tall and extra long too. He had Carlos Dunlap (6’6”) and Michael Johnson (6’7”) while with the Cincinnati Bengals. Guenther already has extra long Arden Key (6’5”), who could show improvement in his second season with added strength next year. And Gary would be a great complement to him while playing on the strong side.

Despite his injury-plagued 2018, his size, length, speed, agility and power have him going in the top 10 on some draft boards. Teams like the New York Giants (No. 6), Jacksonville Jaguars, (No. 7) and Denver Broncos at (No. 10) could come calling to trade up for Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins.

The Raiders should only use the Broncos as leverage to deal with the Giants or Jaguars. Gruden showed last year when he selected Kolton Miller after a trade down that he loves his freak athletes. And he believes he has quite a talent in Miller, who actually showed some promise until he injured his knee in week four.

New general manager Mike Mayock likes freak athletes too so it’s not likely he argues with it. In an interview on the team’s website, he said what a Mayock-Gruden Raider is.

“We can get into a lot of other things but the core values of toughness, physicality, high football IQ, speed. and what’s most important to me at every position is do you compete,” Mayock said. “I don’t care if you’re a corner, a left tackle or a defensive tackle. I want to know if you compete. How tough are you? Can you bring it everyday for 16 weeks. That’s what and Oakland Raider is.”

Gary has some things to learn as do all draft picks but it sounds like Mayock just described him when describing what a Raider is.

Poll

Will the Raiders trade down for Rashan Gary?

This poll is closed

  • 28%
    Yes, that’s just the kind of move Jon Gruden would make.
    (814 votes)
  • 38%
    No, Josh Allen will make it to them at No. 4.
    (1098 votes)
  • 21%
    No, they will take Clelin Ferrell.
    (624 votes)
  • 6%
    No, they’ll take another players (specify in comments)
    (173 votes)
  • 5%
    No, they will trade down but for someone else (specify in comments)
    (154 votes)
2863 votes total Vote Now