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Raiders training camp: Spotlight is on 2019 first-round picks

This is a big year for Clelin Ferrell, Josh Jacobs and Johnathan Abram

Los Vegas Raiders v New York Jets
Clelin Ferrell
Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

Clelin Ferrell, Josh Jacobs and Johnathan Abram are officially started their third NFL seasons Wednesday as the Las Vegas Raiders began training camp practices.

When the Raiders used first-round picks on them all in 2019, it was pointed to this season as the time they would all become true cornerstone players and keys to the Jon Gruden regime.

Jacobs and Abram were taken with picks garnered in the Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper trades, respectively. Ferrell came as the Raiders’ selection after a 4-12 season in Gruden’s first year back with the organization.

After this season, the Raiders will have to make decisions on whether to give the fifth-year option to all three players or let them hit free agency after their fourth season. Let’s look at where each player stands going into their third seasons with the Raiders:

Clelin Ferrell:
2019 draft order:
No. 4 overall.
Current path to option decision:
The defensive end’s chances of getting the fifth-year option have to be described as 50-50 at the moment. He’s been solid at times, but he has been invisible at other times as well. Ferrell is solid run stopper, but he hasn’t made a huge impact in terms of being a foundation defensive piece. His pass rush burst has been spotty and inconsistent ... so he hasn’t necessarily been a bust, but he hasn’t lived up to his draft standing.
What he has to do in 2021 to help case:
Ferrell will need to become more consistent as far as impact plays, especially as a pass rusher and perhaps having Yannick Ngakoue on the other side of him in Gus Bradley’s system will help. He simply has to make more of an impact before the team can further commit to him.

Miami Dolphins v Las Vegas Raiders
Josh Jacobs
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Josh Jacobs
2019 draft order:
No. 24 overall.
Current path to option decision:
The running back has been tremendous. Jacobs is one of the best young tailbacks in the NFL and he is a focal point of the Las Vegas offense. He is a difference maker. There is no reason to think, if Jacobs can stay healthy, that the Raiders won’t want to keep him long-term. I’d think they’ll go the Kolton Miller-route and give him a long-term contract before giving him the fifth-year option.
What he has to do in 2021 to help case:
Jacobs just needs to stay the course and not suffer a major injury to remain in the Raiders’ long-term plans.

Indianapolis Colts v Las Vegas Raiders
Johnathan Abram
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Johnathan Abram
2019 draft order:
No. 27 overall.
Current path to option decision:
The strong safety is in the same boat as Ferrell in the fifth-year option chase. It’s no sure thing that Abram will receive it from the Raiders. He missed 15 games as a rookie with a shoulder injury and he was uneven in 2020. Abram is an aggressive hard-hitter who wants to be great, but he also lacks on-field discipline and has not been good in coverage. The hope is he matures as a player under Bradley’s tutelage. However, the Raiders have added at safety and may not hesitate to replace Abram if he continues to struggle.
What he has to do in 2021 to help case:
Abram has to make big strides. If there are still questions about him after this season, the Raiders will likely let him hit free agency in 2023.