The Jon Gruden era for the Las Vegas Raiders has stains of harmful free agents and draft selections. Draft misses have been the biggest culprit, with the 2020 draft class in shambles.
There are plenty of factors that helped the Raiders make these poor decisions. From overconfident coaches to a player Gruden just fell in love with, the reach for need was a significant factor.
Clelin Ferrell is an example of this process backfiring on the group. Reports of Gruden and Mike Mayock attempting to trade back show how they felt about him compared to other edge rushers. When they couldn't execute the right deal, they still took a prospect they even thought wasn’t worthy of that pick just because he fits a need.
Luckily, the Raiders' new front office, spearheaded by Dave Ziegler, takes a different approach. Ziegler believes in the philosophy of the best player available and thinks you can hurt your football team reaching for need.
“We want the best available players regardless of position.” Ziegler said, “That’s how we want to continue to build the team. I think if you’re drafting good football players, you’re making good choices.”
“you can often pass over good football players that can help your team. And I think that can be a slippery slope if that’s kind of the way you approach it.”
The comments are fresh air compared to what we saw from the past four drafts. With every pick in round three and beyond after the Adams trade, this mindset will benefit them if players fall deep into day two. Instead of just taking a cornerback because it fills a spot, you accept the best player regardless of position.
However, the best player available has inconsistent results. It's always a crapshoot, and a bit of luck with the NFL draft.
The Lions taking three wide receivers in a row, sent Matt Millen packing as the general manager for the franchise. On the flip side, The Dallas Cowboys were able to select CeeDee Lamb from Oklahoma when he fell in the draft. The draft pick allowed them to become flexible with Amari Cooper and send him off to the Cleveland Browns.
The Raiders' success with drafting needs equaled awful results. It is time to give the best player available a shot.