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Raiders draft 2022: Expect Alabama interest to stay strong

New Las Vegas regime has a similarity to former brass

NCAA Football: Senior Bowl Practice
Bill Belichick and Nick Saban
Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

The Jon Gruden-Mike Mayock era was famous for having their draft honey holes.

They loved poaching talent out of big-time programs, with Clemson and Alabama being top go-to schools. The Raiders drafted running back Josh Jacobs, wide receiver Henry Ruggs III and offensive lineman Alex Leatherwood in the first round out of Alabama the past three years.

However, now that Gruden and Mayock have been jettisoned, don’t expect the Raiders’ penchant for the Crimson Tide to end. Like the past Las Vegas brass, the new Raiders’ leadership has an affinity for Alabama players as well.

New Las Vegas head coach Josh McDaniels and new general manager Dave Ziegler came to the Raiders from the New England Patriots. The Patriots have one of the best relationships in the NFL with Alabama head coach Nick Saban. He coached with Patriots head coach Bill Belichick in the past and the two are close. So, McDaniels also has a good working relationship with Saban.

Like the Raiders, McDaniels and Ziegler’s team took a Crimson Tide player in the first round last year — quarterback Mac Jones. The Patriots also went to the Alabama well in the second round last year in the form of defensive tackle Christian Barmore. Both Jones and Barmoe had fine rookie campaigns, so McDaniels and Ziegler will surely feel good about taking former ‘Bama stars.

McDaniels has said he talked to Jacobs during the pre-draft process in 2019 and the Patriots ended up taking fellow Alabama running back Damien Harris in the third round that year.

Of course, the Raiders have a limited cache of draft picks after acquiring star wide receiver Davante Adams to the Green Bay Packers for first and second-round picks in the April 28-30 draft. The Raiders currently have just five draft picks, the second fewest in the NFL. Las Vegas’ first pick at No. 86.

The good news is that Alabama, like every year, has a long list of 2022 draft prospects, so the Raiders will have a chance to continue the Alabama draft pipeline.