What an exhausting and exciting weekend.
Head Coach Jon Gruden and General Manager Mike Mayock entered the 2019 NFL Draft with a plan, and they stuck to it. The Oakland Raiders addressed practically every need on the roster, specifically on defense.
With the No. 4 overall pick, the duo selected Clemson defensive end Clelin Ferrell, who many analysts believe has one of the highest ceilings in the draft. Part of what makes Ferrell such an intriguing prospect is the fact he can play inside, outside, and all four downs. He’s not a rotational player whose only way to succeed is because of a scheme fit. Ferrell can thrive in any situation and isn’t limited by his skill set.
The Raiders followed up the Ferrell pick with the addition of running back Josh Jacobs and safety Johnathan Abram, both were pegged as the best players at their positions in the 2019 Draft and they’ll bring plenty of leadership and skill to the Raiders locker room.
Overall, Mayock and Gruden stuck to their game plan, and many believe it was an exceptional first draft from Mayock as the team’s general manager; let’s take a look at what the experts said.
Pete Prisco, CBS Sports - The skinny: Ferrell was taken too high for my blood, but they bounced back to take Jacobs and safety Jonathan Abrams with their next two first-round picks. I do like fourth-round corner Isaiah Johnson.
Chad Reuter, NFL.com - They started the day with their highly publicized three first-round picks, including two received in trades for veteran players (edge Khalil Mack to Chicago; WR Amari Cooper to Dallas). Ferrell is a good player, and it's not surprising the team felt pressure to replace Mack. Ferrell was the next best pure front-four pass rusher on the board after No. 2 overall pick Nick Bosa, but he came off the board well before most people expected.
The Jacobs selection at No. 24 was not a surprise, not only due to his immense talent but also the retirement of Marshawn Lynch. Abram is a very good safety who brings pop and quickness to the secondary. He will be a leader for the Raiders in the future and it won't be surprising if former first-round pick Karl Joseph is traded to make room for him on the field. Oakland had only one pick on Friday night, but used it on Mullen to address a big positional need.
Oakland found a high-effort pass rusher in Crosby in the fourth round, as well as an athletic, raw, quick-footed corner in Johnson. Moreau is the receiving tight end the Raiders needed, and Renfrow will be a long-time inside receiver in the league.
Adam Rank, NFL.com - The Raiders killed it. What's funny is that for years, Mike Mayock was regarded as one of the top talent evaluators in the NFL. His yearly conference call was the most anticipated part of draft season, save for the actual draft himself. And while it seemed like the Raiders reached for Clelin Ferrell with the No. 4 selection, you should realize that if Mayock were still part of the media, he would have had Ferrell as one of his top defenders -- and his draft stock would have risen in response. But credit to Mayock for keeping that close to the pinstriped vest and being able to get his guy. He also rebuilt the Raiders' defense with a number of solid picks and even found a successor to Marshawn Lynch when he drafted Josh Jacobs. So have your fun with the Raiders now, because we are going to look back on this draft much differently by this time next year. Or you will; I already know this was a really good draft.
Kristopher Knox, Bleacher Report - Say what you will about the surprise selection of Clelin Ferrell (No. 4), but he has the potential to give the Oakland Raiders a top-tier edge-rusher for the next decade.
The selection of running back Josh Jacobs should be less scrutinized. He was generally perceived as the top running back in this class, and he immediately gives the Raiders a three-down weapon in the backfield.
Grabbing safety Johnathan Abram (No. 27) with a third first-round pick was an underrated move. The Mississippi State product is a thumper who should add a bit of bite on the back end of the Raiders defense.
Oakland got another potential defensive starter in second-round cornerback Trayvon Mullen (No. 40), while tight end Foster Moreau (No. 137) and wideout Hunter Renfrow (No. 149) could prove Day 3 steals. Moreau could move into the starting lineup early on as a rookie.
While it's fair to question the Ferrell pick with talents such as Josh Allen and Ed Oliver still on the board, this draft should provide a solid foundation for the Raiders as they make the transition from Oakland to Las Vegas.
Overall Grade: B+
In addition to the grades provided by various members of the NFL media, Senior Bowl director Jim Nagy has spent a lot of time with Mayock and Gruden, and he thought the Raiders took full advantage of their time at the Senior Bowl, adding a handful of talented players.
The Silver and Black added several building blocks through the draft, and it’ll be exciting to watch the maturation process as the rookies progress through their first NFL seasons. We can read into the grades all we want, but there won’t be any way of knowing who the real winners of the draft are for a couple years; however, many think the Raiders took full advantage.