I hope everyone is enjoying imagining the possibilities of the Raiders 2019 draft haul. They picked up nine new prospects in the draft, many of whom could have an immediate impact. For that there are some winners and losers. These are some of those.
Nothing was more dreadful on this Raiders team last year than the pass defense. Guenther had the rug pulled out from underneath him before the season even started, with the team trading away Khalil Mack, who was to be his best player and the foundation to the entire defense. Without Mack, everything fell apart. They could get no pass rush, and without the pass rush, the secondary suffered as well.
They went hard after the pass defense in the draft, with six of their nine picks coming on the defensive side of the ball — three pass rushers and three defensive backs. Clelin Ferrell in particular perfectly fits the type of defensive end Guenther likes. I saw Guenther walking out of the facility at the conclusion of the draft and said “Happiest man in the world right now” and he chuckled and gave me a big smile. With three of the four major deals signed in free agency on the offensive side of the ball, Guenther’s defense finally got the attention it deserves.
The school saw six players drafted. Half of them became Raiders. A couple of them went probably quite a bit higher to the Raiders than they would have gone otherwise. The Raiders shocked the world taking Clelin Ferrell at 4th overall. He was the second pass rusher off the board despite many position rankings putting him below the likes of Josh Allen, Brian Burns, and Montez Sweat. Trayvon Mullen was selected ahead of LSU’s Greedy Williams who many had as the draft’s top cornerback, or at least a first round worthy product. The Raiders traded up in the fifth round from 158 to 149 to get Hunter Renfrow. Winning the National Championship at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara seems to have helped Clemson get a few of their players careers off the ground in the Bay Area.
With as much as we say Jon Gruden has final say on everything, this draft had Mayock’s fingerprints all over it. First, by the drafting of four players from the National Championship game, which he attended and said he stood on the field and saw five guys he would like to draft (he picked up a fifth as a priority undrafted free agent for what it’s worth).
They also drafted four players from the Senior Bowl, where Mayock could roam around from Gruden’s North squad to the South squad throughout the week. He joked after the draft, that he got a text from Senior Bowl president Jim Nagy that they gave the Raiders the wrong team because they drafted four players all from the South squad.
There were also several trades back in the 2nd and 4th round which Mayock said took some convincing in the war room that the guys they wanted would still be there a few picks back. The only time they traded up was to get Hunter Renfrow in the 5th round. That one seemed like a mutual move with Mayock and Gruden.
The draft ended in true Mayock style, with him ‘Stumping the truck” of his former NFL Network colleagues with the selection of Prairie View A&M edge rusher Quinton Bell. They all got a good laugh out of that one. I would assume Bell is ok with being used in such a way. He got drafted, after all, when he didn’t think he would.
The constant rumors and reports that the Raiders were interested in a quarterback in this draft was getting downright annoying. Throughout the process, the Raiders looked extensively at the QB’s in the draft, meeting with all of them multiple times and holding private workouts with them. They had a couple of them at the Senior Bowl as well.
Every time Gruden or Mayock stepped in front of the media, they were asked about their interest in a quarterback and they always said they were just doing their due diligence. Mayock saying Derek Carr was “a franchise quarterback” drew skepticism because it isn’t saying for sure that Carr’s job was safe. Which I think is just what Gruden and Mayock wanted out there. They wanted teams to wonder. The smokescreens are real.
They didn’t let Carr speak to the media before the draft and I’m sure when he speaks during OTA’s, he’ll say he was never worried, but I don’t believe that for a second. I think some doubt creeped in and he wasn’t completely relieved until Drew Lock was selected by the Broncos at the 42nd overall pick. Carr also got three new weapons in Josh Jacobs, Foster Moreau, and Hunter Renfrow, so overall a very good few days for Derek.
Both Gruden and Mayock have shown great faith in the former practice squad tight end. He appeared in a few games late last season and showed great athleticism and hands. Gruden said before the draft that they’ll be counting on Waller to be the number one guy with Jared Cook gone, but most thought they would still add a tight end in the first two rounds to compete for the starting job. They didn’t. They got Foster Moreau in the fourth round, with Mayock saying he will make a “great complement to Waller.” Quite a step up for a guy who was wallowing in relative obscurity on the Ravens practice squad just five months ago.
Speaking of positions most thought the Raiders would make a priority in this draft. But they neglected the position completely. Guard instantly went from a strength to a question mark with the trade of Kelechi Osemele to the Jets and the only move they made at the position was to re-sign Denzelle Good to a one-year deal. Good was claimed off waivers from the Colts late last season and filled in at right guard for three games for the injured Gabe Jackson. Good was outstanding in his final two games and that apparently was enough for the job to be his to lose.
It was always kind of assumed that the Raiders would be going with Vontaze Burfict as their middle linebacker next season regardless of what they did in the draft at the position. he is Guenther’s boy from his years in Cincinnati and so they work well together. Any rookie would need to learn the ropes behind or beside Burfict before taking over at middle linebacker.
Marshall can play inside or outside linebacker and had they made linebacker a priority in the draft, it may have put his job in jeopardy. The Raiders didn’t draft a linebacker at all, upping the odds that Marshall not only makes the squad, but is a starter alongside Burfict and Tahir Whitehead. For Marshall’s part, he would very much like to make this more than a one-year thing. The Las Vegas native would like nothing more than to be a member of the Raiders in their inaugural season in Vegas. He will be given every opportunity to stick around.
No player was more mocked to the Raiders at the fourth overall pick in this year’s draft than Quinnen Williams. The big defensive tackle became no longer an option when he was selected by the Jets with the third overall pick just ahead of the Raiders. They may very well have drafted Williams too. But even with Williams off the board, there was Ed Oliver to consider as another dominant interior defender.
Had the Raiders drafted either one, it may have put Hall’s roster spot in serious limbo. The 2018 round two pick was outplayed by fifth round draft pick Maurice Hurst who earned the starting job. Bring in Williams or Oliver and when would Hall ever see the field? Would he even make the team? With no interior defensive linemen selected by the Raiders, Hall will once again rotate in and have a chance to see if he can develop.