It started Thursday night when the Raiders took Alabama’s Henry Ruggs III, the fastest receiver in the draft.
On Friday night, after sitting tight and not trading up into the second round, Jon Gruden and top executive Mike Mayock were patient and then took back-to-back picks in what was a loud message — Gruden is making the Raiders’ offense what he wants it to be.
After slogging through two lackluster years that included four bad trades for receivers, Gruden took control and is changing the personality of his offense and making the playbook the way he wants it.
At No. 80, the Raiders took Kentucky’s Lynn Bowden. He was mostly a slot receiver, but he also played running back and quarterback for the Wildcats.
He will simply be a weapon for the Raiders. He will play running back and receiver and could even play a little Wildcat QB as needed. He could even play a Taysom Hill-type role. Bowden is the spice in Gruden’s new offense.
Then at No. 81, the Raiders took South Carolina receiver Bryan Edwards. He is a big receiver, who broke his foot early in the offseason. Some scouts said he had second-round talent. PFF has him ranked as the No. 128 player available. Per ESPN, the Raiders are the third team, joining the 1967 Vikings and 1982 Saints, to take three receivers in the first three rounds of a draft.
In Ruggs, Bowden and Edwards, Gruden has players he will build his offense around along with quarterback Derek Carr, star running back Josh Jacobs, tight end Darren Waller, receiver Tyrell Williams and slot receiver Hunter Renfrow. Plus, they have a solid offensive line. And don’t forget free-agent pickup Nelson Agholor. So, this unit is being overhauled, and has great potential for now and in the future.
Even if Ruggs, Bowden and Edwards aren’t stars, this grouping should still work. The Raiders now have several dimensions to their offense.
Ruggs doesn’t have to be a true No. 1 because they will be deep. He can just do his speed thing as directed by the playbook, and kill defenses in the slant.
Bowden can be the backup running backs to Jacobs. He can line up in the slot and help move Renfrow around.
Edwards will have the chance to grow into a starting spot.
Gruden has grand plans with these picks. If this plan works, the Raiders will have one of the most diverse and explosive offenses in the NFL within a couple of years.