At the halfway point of the season, the Raider rookies have looked strong overall. Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock caught some initial flak for some of their selections during draft and were praised for others. Does that talk still hold up?
These grades are based on player performance relative to draft position through the first half of the season. Some of the grades cannot be filed, as we haven’t seen enough of Johnathan Abram or Isaiah Johnson to pass judgements just yet. Those are not factored into the final GPA listed below.
Round 1, No. 4 overall: Clelin Ferrell
In hindsight, selecting Ferrell at No. 4 appears just as questionable as it did on draft night.
He’s been a solid run-stuffed and is finding his footing while playing loads of snaps at both 5-tech and 3-tech, but he has done absolutely nothing to improve a perennially porous pass rush. That said, Ferrell had a key quarterback pressure against Matthew Stafford that forced an errant throw on the final play of Sunday’s game. If we start to see more clutch showings like that, this grade will improve.
Round 1, No. 24 overall: Josh Jacobs
What more can be said about Jacobs? On Sunday, he became the first rookie running back to rack up at least two touchdowns in three of his first eight games since Ickey Woods in 1988. Remember the Ickey Shuffle?
Jacobs has been one of the best backs in the NFL already, showcasing a dynamic blend of power, vision, burst and shiftiness. As the rest of the league begins to take notice, Jacobs’ rookie of the year candidacy has grown. His performance warrants an “A+” grade, but the 4.0 grading scale tops out at an A.
Round 1, No. 27 overall: Johnathan Abram
What could have been.
Abram looked great in his Week 1 performance before being placed on season-ending IR with a torn rotator cuff. His play would have likely only improved the final GPA.
Round 2, No. 40 overall: Trayvon Mullen
This grade would have been lower a few weeks ago, but Mullen’s stock is rising after being elevated to the starting lineup in wake of the Gareon Conley trade.
He’s long, physical and has the juice to stick hip-to-hip with most wideouts in phase. One of Mullen’s best attributes at Clemson was his ball-skills, which we haven’t seen enough of just yet. If he can emerge as a solid starter in the season’s latter half, this secondary isn’t as far off as some believe.
Round 4, No. 106 overall: Maxx Crosby
One of the best value picks of the draft, Crosby has been the Raiders top edge rusher this season. He’s tenacious, quick off the snap, and only getting better with each rep.
The knock on Crosby coming out of Eastern Michigan was his lack of strength, with scouts worrying whether or not his speed and bendiness could be sustained with added weight. He’s answered the call thus far, and will be a major building block if he continues to develop.
Round 4, No. 129 overall: Isaiah Johnson
Johnson should be returning off injured reserve any day now, so we will soon see if he can come in and contribute.
Johnson looked very promising in training camp, getting work in before and after practicing while going out of his way to coach up other youthful defensive backs as if he were a veteran. He’s a wildcard piece that could give this secondary a big boost down the stretch.
Round 4, No. 137 overall: Foster Moreau
Moreau entered the league with a lot of untapped receiving potential, and it’s slowly coming to the surface.
Tight end is one of the toughest positional transitions in the NFL, because the responsibilities are vastly larger than in college. At LSU, Moreau was used mainly as a blocking tight end, putting up only 52 career catches. In Gruden’s offense, he’s being asked to play in-line and block edge rushers and linebackers on one play, and mark up with safeties in the slot on the next.
As he’s gotten acclimated to the offense, Moreau and Waller have formed the NFL’s premier tight end duo.
Round 5, No. 149 overall: Hunter Renfrow
Renfrow is another player who has come on strong lately after a slow start. Over the first six games, he compiled only 14 catches for 115 yards and no scores.
In his past two, he’s made 10 grabs for 142 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He made the game-winner on Sunday, and could be poised to break out in a big way in the second half of the season.
Renfrow only comes onto the field when the Raiders run three-receiver sets out of 10 or 11 personnel, but he has made the most of his snaps over the past two performances.
Round 7, No. 230 overall: Quinton Bell
It’s hard to earn a grade this low as a seventh-round pick. Most seventh rounders aren’t expected to make the roster, and Bell was always thought of as a practice squad candidate.
Bell seems like a prime candidate to bring back onto the 90-man roster next offseason if he keeps up his offseason workout regimen and adds weight. The Raiders cut him from the practice squad on Oct. 15, and he hasn’t signed anywhere.
Considering that Paul Guenther couldn’t remember the name of his school (Prairie View A&M) during training camp, Bell clearly didn’t do much to impress.