There are six draft picks left from the McKenzie era before Jon Gruden was hired. One of those six is Gabe Jackson, whose struggles have led some to speculate that he might be cut this offseason. He carries no dead money and the Raiders would save $9.5 million by cutting him. Should they?
Evan: Good question. I think it’s fair to say Jackson has been the weak link along the line this year. How much of that is from the MCL injury that kept him out the first four weeks and how much of that is due to his skills deteriorating? According to Spotrac, Jackson is the fifth highest paid guard in the league. It’s very possible Mayock and Gruden could look to save the money and spread the wealth elsewhere.
BD: It’s possible that Jackson has regressed beyond the point of return. He’s been the worst full-time pass blocker by a wide margin this year. But I wouldn’t mind seeing him back and hopefully with his legs underneath him. Don’t forget he pushed it to come back from a knee injury and its likely he’s been playing all season below 100% health.
Alex: Cut him. Last offseason they made Trent Brown the richest offensive tackle in the NFL. They should try and do the same with Brandon Scherff at guard, or come as close as possible. Hudson, Scherff, and Brown will lock down the right side of the offensive line for the foreseeable future.
Will: When in doubt, release players who don’t fit the long term plan. That’s what the Patriots and other good organizations do.
Cyril: I expect the Raiders to take a long, hard look at how Jackson progresses from injury during the offseason and would expect them to look for a Kelechi Osemele-type trade rather than outright releasing Jackson. He’s still a solid player when healthy, albeit an overpaid one. Perhaps a contract restructure could come into play if the 28-year-old is willing.
We all believe that one first round pick should be used on a wide receiver. If Guenther is still the defensive coordinator come April, the other first round pick likely will not be used on a linebacker. What position do you think the Raiders are looking at instead? I dare one of you to say quarterback and trigger the comments.
Will: In Todd McShay’s first mock draft of the season he has them taking Stanford CB Paulson Adebo. Corner makes sense. But if Tua falls into the teens, I guarantee he’s the pick.
BD: The Raiders are rapidly playing themselves into contention for Isaiah Simmons range in the draft. There is a huge chance the do-it-all LB/Safety/Pass Rusher will be gone in the top five picks. If Simmons is gone, don’t be surprised to see the Raiders take a QB with one of their first round selections.
Cyril: In the very defense-heavy 7-round mock draft I posted yesterday, I had the Raiders taking SS Grant Delpit at No. 13 and DT/DE Javon Kinlaw at No. 18. My reasoning? I think the Raiders will go with the best player available approach and try to begin building a defensive foundation. I can’t see the Raiders doubling up on offense if they grab a receiver in the first round, although that’d be a very Gruden thing to do. I’d quite like to see the Raiders trade back with their latter first round pick, grab a receiver late in the first round and try to recreate the magic of the Mayock Bunch with as many high-level prospects as possible.
Evan: I still think it could be linebacker regardless of whether Guenther is around or not. Unless they sign someone if free agency, it is the weakest position on the roster by wide margin, and I can see Mayock shoring up the position in round one. If not LB, I could see them adding another CB, and depending on what happens with Karl Joseph, maybe even another safety.
Alex: Pass rusher because as they say you can never have too many. A.J. Epenesa or Yetur Gross-Matos is going to be the pick depending on how the draft board shakes out. I also wouldn’t be surprised of the Raiders are taking a long look at Trevon Diggs.
I was watching a nameless sports show with obnoxious TV hosts, and they brought up how one of the worries about drafting Josh Jacobs in the first round was his lack of touches in college and the jump to a featured role on an NFL team. He did suffer a pretty nasty injury. Do you think drafting him 24th overall was too early?
Alex: Before I answer this question, let me tell you a story. Cyril and I were texting one day. I was convinced that free agency was after the draft. Cyril patiently kept telling me I was wrong, and trust me this was a back and forth for about 15 to 20 minutes. Then I looked it up and I was, in fact, wrong. Why am I telling you this story? Because I think the Ravens were going to take him at 25. There’s no way the game plan was to sign a 29-year-old Mark Ingram to a three year deal only and pass on a 21-year-old stud with a fifth year option. The Ravens had to see what the Saints did with Ingram and Alvin Kamara. I think they planned to recreate it with Jacobs to make Lamar Jackson’s life even easier. Remember, the Saints were one bad play away from making the Super Bowl. I think the Ravens assumed he was still going to be there when they traded picks with the Eagles. Could you imagine trying to game plan how you were going to stop a rushing attack that featured Lamar Jackson, Mark Ingram, and Josh Jacobs? I think once the Raiders drafted Jacobs, the Ravens went to their second choice, which was Marquise Brown.
Cyril: Jacobs is the top candidate for the Rookie of the Year award at the moment and has been the centerpiece of a Raiders offense that has been asked to carry the team this offseason. Now, the offense hasn’t carried them all that far, but without Jacobs this team might be staring at another 4-12 season.
BD: Imagine for a moment what it would be like if the Raiders offense didn’t have Jacobs this season. That should shut down any arguments that they took him too early.
Evan: Heck NO! If you ask me, Jacobs was the best value pick in all of the first round. Yes, he is injured, but he is playing through it. He has been the best player on the offense, and among one of the best runners in the league. He is currently fifth in rushing yards with one less game played then all of the guys ahead of him. STUD.
Will: No. While I’m not a fan of drafting a RB in the first round, one of Jacobs’ most appealing attributes was his lack of work. He was far less banged up than say D’Andre Swift, Travis Etienne, or Jonathan Taylor will be entering the league in this year’s draft.
Speaking of Josh Jacobs, if he doesn’t play the rest of the season do you think he’s done enough to win Offensive Rookie of the Year?
Cyril: Unless one of the secondary candidates (Murray, D.K. Metcalf, A.J. Brown) lights up the league over the last two games, Jacobs will have some nice hardware to admire at season’s end. The award is certainly his to lose at this point. Let’s hope it motivates him to continue to improve this offseason. Such a fun player to root for.
Will: He’s put together a very strong candidacy no doubt. But voters will likely have recency bias, and go for a higher profile name or team. I could also see A.J. Brown get it because of what he’s done in the second half of the season.
Alex: Whoever drafts these questions is stupid. Who else wins the award? However, Will brings up a really good point about how short sighted voters can be.
Evan: Yes, who else are you giving the award to?
BD: Yes, he’s among the best at his position in the NFL already. Kyler Murray played great for a rookie but he’s not in the same tier as Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Jackson, Russell Wilson etc. Jacobs is in the same group as the best RBs in football (with a broken shoulder). Give him the award.
We’re nearing the end of the season. You’ve had enough of a sample size with the Mayock Bunch for me to ask this question: Which rookie is under the most pressure to perform in Year 2?
Evan: How can you not say Clelin Ferrell. He was a top five pick and people are expecting instant success (unfairly). Remain patient, people. Khalil Mack only had 5.5 sacks his rookie year. I’m not saying that Ferrell will ever reach Mack’s realm, but I think some have already hit the panic button.
Alex: I think I’m going to surprise a lot of people with this answer, but it’s “Mad” Maxx Crosby. Even if four sacks came in one game, the fact that he’s produced the way he has means that will be the expectation moving forward whether that’s fair or not. I also think there has to be some pressure on Jonathan Abram to stay healthy as well.
BD: I’ll go away from the obvious Clelin Ferrell answer and go with Johnathan Abram. This entire season when the Raiders defense struggled in the back end, Abram’s season-ending injury was pointed to as the reason. When he comes back, he will have the unenviable task of shoring up the defensive secondary, a feat not even Charles Woodson was able to accomplish when he came back to the Bay.
Will: Clelin Ferrell. While I think the Raiders like him plenty, it’s clear that they believed he would handle an inside/outside role better than he has. Pretty much every other rookie aside from Abram, due to no fault of his own, has played a key role on the squad and contributed mightily to the midseason success this team had.
Cyril: Ferrell and Abram are both compelling candidates, but I think that Trayvon Mullen is actually under the most pressure to perform given the responsibility on his plate. The Raiders traded Gareon Conley midseason because they were sick of his uneven play and wanted to give Mullen a shot. Mullen has delivered thus far, but the Raiders will be counting on him heavily to be consistent next year, especially if they don’t retain pending free agent Daryl Worley (although I expect him to be re-signed). The Raiders desperately need Mullen to be a foundational piece in the secondary to take the next step defensively.