One thing became abundantly clear during the first three rounds of the 2018 NFL Draft; Jon Gruden wanted to invest in the big fellas.
It’s long been said that good teams build through the trenches, and with the selections of Kolton Miller (No. 15 overall) and Brandon Parker (No. 65 overall) – two offensive tackles – the Oakland Raiders have begun to do just that.
Add with nose tackle P.J. Hall also in the mix, and the first three Raiders picks in the draft are all big, strong men who can who fortify their respective lines.
And you best believe that was very much by design, particularly considering the pass rushers that currently reside in the AFC West.
“I’m not going to apologize or be sad about taking two, young offensive tackles with the people we have to block in this division,” Gruden said Friday night. “We’re not playing seven-on-seven here. We don’t get to count ‘steamboats’ or ‘three Mississippi’s’ before they rush. We need guys that can block, and we addressed that today. We have a quarterback that I think is one hell of a football player, and it’s a priority to protect him. He’s been hurt the past two years, and it bothers me.”
Over the past several years, the offensive line has been one the best, most consistent, units on the Raiders roster, but as Gruden said, with elite rushers up and down the rosters of the Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, and Los Angeles Chargers, a little help – and a little youth – certainly won’t hurt going forward.
“We feel like Kolton Miller and Parker have great mentors in [Breno] Giacomini and [Donald] Penn. So they have a tremendous opportunity,” Gruden explained.
Shifting to the defense, Hall – like Gruden said – immediately feels a need for the Raiders on the interior of the defensive front.
“We need an inside pass rusher,” Gruden said. “I think I’ve said that. Since I’ve been here, somebody that can disrupt running plays and penetrate, and this guy can do that, so we’re really excited to get him.”
And as excited as Gruden is to get his hands on the athletic defensive tackle, Hall is just as fired up to get to work in Silver and Black.
“I feel like I’ll fit really well on the defense,” Hall said. “Their four-front, they want me as their three-technique, they have a penetrating defense, especially for the defensive line. And I feel that’s exactly where I’ll best fit at, getting up field, being explosive and just disrupting things. I feel I’ll fit right in and I’m excited.”
The Raiders currently have six picks on the third day of the draft, and while they’ll assuredly address some other needs on the roster Saturday, one thing is certain, the trenches in Oakland are much more solidified than they were just 48 hours ago.