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Jon Gruden Talks 2016 NFL Draft, Future Of The Raiders


Jon Gruden lights the Al Davis Memorial Torch before a game in 2012

Jon Gruden knows a thing or two about football – quarterbacks in particular.

After a decade in the NFL as a head coach – including four seasons as the head coach of the Raiders – Gruden ended his career on the sidelines in 2008 and then transitioned into the broadcast booth.

He's been an analyst on ESPN's Monday Night Football telecasts since 2009 and just completed the seventh season of Gruden's QB Camp, which also airs on ESPN.

The former head coach participated in a conference call with the national media Thursday, talking mostly about the 2016 NFL Draft, but also touching on a variety of other topics.

Here is what we learned from his remarks.

He shared what he looks for when evaluating quarterbacks.

"Number one, you have to evaluate the mental quickness, the arm quickness, the body quickness of each candidate, how well they communicate, their interactions with others.  What's their interest level? What's their football intelligence? Can they teach the game themselves? They have to be able to do this at this stage of the game, and then you have to go to the film and really take a good look. Can they make the tight-window throws? Are they tough in the pocket? Can they solve problems? How are they in tight red zone situations? Do they take care of the ball? Can they bring their team from behind? There's so many different things that you have to evaluate, and then obviously you look at the system, the training ground, that they come from."

The Silver and Black are once again a destination for free agents.

"I think [General Manager] Reggie [McKenzie] has done a really good job. Obviously, the Derek Carr selection at the top of the second round is his signature, I think, acquisition. When you have a quarterback, as you know, your football program or city becomes a desirable destination for free agents. People want to go where they have a quality quarterback because they know they have a chance to win. I think Derek Carr and his performance over the past couple of years has made the Raiders, once again, a destination for free agents, and I can't tell you how happy I am to see that as an ex-Oakland Raider."

In this year's draft, teams can find quality quarterback prospects – even in the later rounds.

"I like Jacoby Brisseett at NC State. I think there's a lot of great stuff from that young man. I really like Nate Sudfeld at Indiana. I think those two guys jump off the screen when you ask that question, as two candidates, and I think Cardale Jones at Ohio State – that size, that athletic ability, those are three guys I'd like to work with later in the draft."

He also shared what he looks for in a quality running back, and which player from this year's draft meets that criteria.

"They have to be three down players, meaning they can play on any down. They can run the ball in between the tackles, on the perimeter. They can catch the ball, and they can run an array of different routes. You can line them up in the slot. You can run them out of the backfield, and finally, you have to be able to pick up blitzes, and you have to like to pick up blitzes. You have to know who to block, how to block, and to be great at it, you have to want to block, and those are the criteria – be a three-down player, to do all three of those things at a high level, and I think there is a guy in this draft that can do that, make people miss, hit the homerun, catch it, break tackles, take care of the ball. I think there is a guy in this year's draft that can do that in Ezekiel Elliott at Ohio State."

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