I’ll never forget being in the Raiders’ media room back in Alameda in 2018 when they took defensive tackle P.J. Hall in the second round, and traded up to take right tackle Brandon Parker with the first pick of the third round in the first year of Jon Gruden’s return to the team.
Both players were considered big reaches. Neither player’s Raiders’ production did anything to dispel that notion. When they spoke to the media that night, both Hall and Parker said they were surprised to be drafted so high as they thought they’d go in about fifth round.
Players don’t often say that, so it stuck out to me. Three years later, Hall is a former Raider and Parker is on the roster bubble and may have a difficult time making the team. We got our first clue that Parker may not be a good pick when a year after he was drafted, the Raiders made right tackle Trent Brown the highest paid offensive lineman in the NFL in free agency.
The Parker pick in particular was put in the spotlight on Wednesday morning when the San Francisco 49ers rewarded star linebacker Fred Warner with a massive new contract.
Compensation update: 49ers are giving Fred Warner a five-year, $95 million extension, including $40.5 million guaranteed, per source. https://t.co/XHOx8Iizln— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) July 21, 2021
The lucrative deal is not a surprise. Warner is widely considered one of the best linebackers in football. He was taken five picks after Parker at No. 70.
Warner would look good in the Silver and Black, wouldn’t he? He is just what the Raiders’ defense needs as they have been looking for a game-changing linebacker for years. They had one right under their nose and Gruden reached for a small school tackle. Of course, other teams whiffed on Warner as well. It happens all the time.
However, the Raiders aren’t truly going to turn the corner until more Gruden draft picks pan out. While the 2019 class had some studs, there has been a lot of question marks during the recent Gruden drafts.
One of these years, Gruden must find his own Warner.