**Jon Gruden is a rock star, and upon entering the convention center in downtown Indianapolis for his 2018 NFL Scouting Combine press conference, media members swarmed the podium to hear what he had to say. The Raiders Head Coach spoke with the media Wednesday morning, and answered a plethora of questions regarding the team’s roster.
Take a look at the quick hits from his media session:
Gruden addressed the team’s current needs on the roster.
“Obviously, defensively there are some glaring needs at this time. Free agency hasn’t started yet, but our linebacking corps we have a lot of unknowns there, NaVorro Bowman is a free agent. Looking for an inside pass rusher to step up, our secondary, we have to clean that up. Most importantly with the Raiders, just looking at our last three drafts, we need some young people to emerge and start playing a lot for this football team.”
“He’s [Conley] going to start the offseason program, just talked to him briefly… He’s our first round draft choice, everybody liked Conley at Ohio State, he had an excellent training camp. When I studied the training camp film he was inside playing the nickel position, when the season started he was outside playing right corner. He’s a young player, we’re counting on him and Obi Melifonwu to play. We’re really excited to start working with him.”
From Gruden’s perspective, Marshawn Lynch is still the hard-hitting running back he’s seen over the years.
“Looking at the film, in a game that I broadcasted on Christmas night, there’s no question he’s still the Beast that’s hard to bring down. One of the reasons I’m excited to be with the Raiders is to join forces with Lynch, but we’ll see what happens. Obviously we’ve got to take a look at the entire roster, but I’m counting on him being a big part of our football team.”
He discussed what went into the decision to hire Raiders Defensive Coordinator Paul Guenther.
“It goes back from my days visiting Jay in Cincinnati getting to know that coaching staff, Zimmer was the defensive coordinator, Guenther was the linebackers coach, I thought that was an excellent staff that Marvin Lewis had. Every time I had the Bengals on Monday Night Football, I was always impressed with the way he coached on the field, taking advantage of the time in pre-practice, post-practice, and what he got done with Vontaze Burfict, Vinny Rey, very impressive work. We’re very excited to have him.”
Gruden offered high praised for two-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Amari Cooper.
“We think Cooper is going to be a great player, Amari is not only a great prospect, a great player, he’s a great person. He had a lot of injuries last year and that impacted him, but he’ll be the focal point of our pass offense. I hope he’s listening today, I’m looking forward to joining up with Amari Cooper. He’s got tremendous quickness, I think he’s smart, versatile, he’s a gamer, he likes the bright lights, and he’ll be the headliner in our offense.”
Following his press conference, Gruden met with the Bay Area media to share his thoughts on some of the team’s players.
**Gruden on quarterback Connor Cook:
“I’m kind of surprised Connor hasn’t played in two years, other than the playoff game. He got in as a rookie late in the year after [Matt] McGloin got hurt, it was out of necessity, but after Derek got hurt last year they turned the ball to EJ [Manuel]. I don’t know where Connor Cook is, I’m frustrated right now I can’t spend any time with him, but April 9th will be an exciting day for me and Connor Cook.”
Gruden on offensive line coach Tom Cable:
“I like Cable because I spent a lot of time studying Seattle, I spent time up at their training camp; I know what he is on the field. This guy is a good line coach, a really good coach, and all you have to do is watch the beginning of practice, and watch when he has some individual time with his group. They were a really good unit in Seattle for a couple years, they lost all their players, but I think he’s a really good coach.”
Gruden on Giorgio Tavecchio:
“We’re counting on Giorgio, I think that the only difficult thing about having a left-footed kicker is you have to find a left footed kicker to compete against him. Because if you’re bringing in a right-footed kicker to compete against a left footed kicker it really messes up your holder, and the holder is a big part of the operation… We want competition at every position, we like Tavecchio.”