Raiders HC Jon Gruden

Quick Slants: Pre-Combine Edition

Comic-Con has nothing on the NFL Scouting Combine. Or does it?

Both attract droves of fervent crowds eager to take in all the sights and sounds the events offer. You’ve got a group listening and watching intently to another group trying to peddle and showcase their wares to the best of their abilities.

Perhaps the NFL’s Underwear Olympics is more akin to the mecca of entertainment and comics, eh?

Indianapolis plays host to a football junkie’s wet dream and the attraction kicks off Friday as running backs, offensive linemen and specialists go under the microscope. Height, weight, speed, strength, agility, you name it, the combine tracks it. All 32 teams will have reps in attendance and could one of them be new Oakland Raiders head honcho Jon Gruden?

That’s likely a rhetorical question. The league’s Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) prevents Gruden from conversing and meeting with his current players — much to the head coach’s chagrin — and what better way to spend his time than sitting down and picking the brain of prospects? We all got to see how much Gruden thoroughly enjoyed this process with his Jon Gruden’s QB Camp segments on ESPN.

Time to dial up the Quick Slants!

  • What better way to see if a prospect fits your team than having them sit across from you as a head coach? How a prospective draft pick reacts to Gruden’s Chucky glare might tell you a lot.
  • FYI: There are no ground rules or guidelines on how combine interviews are done and who is in the room when they go down.
  • Knowing Gruden, you know the Raiders will have talks with quarterbacks at the event despite having a franchise type in Derek Carr currently at the position. Due diligence is always a good thing.
  • Top QB prospects Josh Rosen, Baker Mayfield and Josh Allen are slated to throw at the event. Sam Darnold and Lamar Jackson may, as well. Doesn’t matter you say? Oh yes, it does, especially if one of the top gunslingers falls to the Raiders at 9 or 10. Trade offers might be coming in.
  • Given four additional sixth-round picks (compensatory), the combine workouts can reinforce the game film on prospects. The Raiders need to mine and at least grab two year-one contributors in that round.
  • Raiders will be watching the kickers go to work, no? Giorgio Tavecchio was a decent fill-in for Sebastian Janikowski and, with the veteran booter on his way out, it would be wise for Oakland to eye the prospective placekickers closely.
  • Humboldt State offensive tackle Alex Cappa impressed at the Senior Bowl and has another opportunity to do the same at the combine. A solid workout and measurables will only help the Division II prospect.
  • Defensive linemen and linebackers are the showcase on Sunday with defensive backs closing out the event on Monday. How closely will the Raiders monitor popular mock draft pick Roquan Smith?
  • Remember the days when the fastest defensive back was guaranteed to be selected by the Raiders under legendary owner Al Davis? Reggie McKenzie and Jon Gruden didn’t fall too far from that tree … just saying.
  • Come on, admit it. You’re looking forward to defensive tackles and offensive linemen run the 40-yard dash.
  • I’m eager to see NFL Network’s Rich Eisen run the 40. His annual performance lets you know how an average person would do in the speed-centric event.
  • Lastly, this is your reminder, under McKenzie’s tenure, the prospect the Raiders took in the first round didn’t even know Oakland was interested. The prospect didn’t talk or workout with the team prior to being picked. (Exception was cornerback DJ Hayden). Does that change with Gruden?

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