The 2020 NFL Scouting Combine has only been underway for a few days, but we've already learned a lot about what Las Vegas Raiders General Manager Mike Mayock and Head Coach Jon Gruden are looking for in this year's draft class.
It's too soon to say that every pick from the Raiders' 2019 Draft Class will be a home run, but I feel pretty confident saying Mayock and Gruden's first draft together was a success. The players from that draft class were intended to serve as foundational pieces going forward and I'm sure the Raiders' duo of Mayock and Gruden will try to add more again in 2020.
As I said, we're still early in the Combine process and the players won't begin their workouts until late Wednesday, but here are some early observations from the first three days.
Quarterbacks are the center of attention
The draft fluctuates between being offensive and defensive heavy and this year there's a lot of offensive players at the top of the first round. The first 10 picks could potentially see four quarterbacks taken and it would be totally justifiable. Joe Burrow, Tua Tagovailoa, Justin Herbert, and Jordan Love are all receiving plenty of praise, and since it's a quarterback-driven league they've been the focus here at the Combine.
The QBs took the podium Tuesday afternoon to speak with the media and reporters were packed in like sardines trying to get their questions in. The quarterbacks won't begin their on-field workouts until Thursday, but Tuesday provided a closer look at the personalities of the top-flight players.
Mayock addresses the Carr rumors
There's no denying that there's been plenty of rumors swirling regarding Raiders quarterback Derek Carr and whether or not the team was ready to move in a different direction, but Mayock addressed those rumors, essentially saying that they're simply rumors.
"I mean the bottom line is this, I think everybody needs to know the level Derek Carr played at last year. He completed 70 percent of his passes, had almost a 3:1 touchdown to interception ratio, I think we're 11th in the league in total yards, we were seventh in third-down conversions. We did a lot of good things on offense last year," he said pointedly. "The disconnect was that we didn't score a lot of points. When you're 11th in yards in 24th in points there's an issue. It's defense, it's special teams, it's not scoring in the red zone, and it's not scoring in goal-to-goal. To me, those are the issues. Derek Carr played at a very high level, I'm very happy with Derek Carr. What I've told everybody since the day I took this job, we're going to evaluate every position every year, and if we can get better we will. That's what I told [Owner] Mark Davis when I took the job."
Derek Carr had one of his best seasons statistically last year and the slights against him in the media have been ridiculous. I think it was important for Mayock to speak out against them and he gave a vote of confidence in the team's signal-caller.
Mock Drafts are already changing
We have yet to see any of the prospects officially work out, but after just three days we're already seeing mock draft gets rearranged. I'm making this point just to convey how fraudulent mock drafts really are. If someone is able to alter their draft board after a couple of podium sessions then they shouldn't be trusted. Talent evaluation at the Combine is about the tape and how coaches and GMs feel their in-person interviews go, not how well a prospect answers a reporter's question.
We live in a world of hot takes and here at the Combine there's already been a handful, but fortunately, the Raiders haven't been mentioned in any of them. Once we see more from the players on the field I'm sure the mock drafts will shift even more, but still, people need to remember it's not the end all be all of whether or not a team should take a chance on someone.
Check out behind-the-scenes photos from the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine.