Oakland Raiders general manager Mike Mayock and head coach Jon Gruden absolutely killed the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft and later proceeded to stump the entire league landscape. With all of the speculation and negativity encompassing the Raiders organization, the two front office heads thumbed their noses at the critics and had themselves a draft party.
Kicking off the draft master’s first ever draft for a team, Mayock selected Clemson defensive end Clelin Ferrell with the fourth pick in the draft. The selection was widely criticized, called an overreach and used to cast doubt on Mayock.
Ferrell was the anchor and leader of the Power Rangers (Clemson’s elite defense line), the squad that crushed Alabama up and down the field in the 2019 National Championship game. He also won the 2018 Hendricks Award, given to the best defensive end in college football.
The knock on him and reason for not drafting him was that he didn’t possess an elite “bend.” Bend, bend… Ferrell doesn’t need bend as he wins his matchups by going straight through his opponent and his edge setting is based off physically dominating his opponent and man handling him at the line of scrimmage.
Alabama running back Josh Jacobs was the Raiders second pick at 24. He was another player who partook in the championship game between the Crimson Tide and the Tigers. Jacobs was the best running back in the draft in spite of not being the fastest.
Great vision, a blue-collar work ethic, good feet, patience are the things that make him special and boy does he love to lay the lumber. We once saw Jacobs take the spirit out of a defender by laying him out while pass blocking and then flexing over his body. He has a large degree of thump to his game and the best thing to happen to him was being able to split time as the featured back at Alabama.
Mississippi State safety Johnathan Abram is a throwback box safety who’s preferred method of intimidation is trash-talking, poo-poo spitting, and ferocious bone jarring hits.
Abram is the type of player to study everything related to his opponents in order to gain any type of advantage over them. Finishing the 2018 season with 99 tackles three sacks and two interceptions, he has a swagger and a style of play we haven’t seen since the days of former Raiders safeties George Atkinson and Jack Tatum.
Starting the round and sitting at 35, the Raiders traded back twice once to get to select the 38th and again to get to pick 40, which the Raiders used to select Clemson cornerback Trayvon Mullen.
What seems like a wild and reckless decision is actually another testament to the complete job of scouting and player evaluation of Mayock and his staff. Mullen hasn’t allowed a passing touchdown since 2017, and has not allowed more than 300 yards passing against him. It was hard for people to find highlights of him because he didn’t get tested.
Also, Mullen was named defensive MVP in the title game against Alabama, his six tackles, interception, sack and forced fumble made him that bad man.
Eastern Michigan defensive end “Mad” Maxx Crosby is a lesser known small school stud. Watching a quick tape of his highlights what immediately jumps out is the way he beats the tackle and then pinches off the edge to secure it before heading up the field.
He wins at the line of scrimmage with quickness and hand fighting. He isn’t a perfect prospect and he needs to add some more weight and strength to his frame. A project he may be, but he will get an opportunity to challenge incumbents Benson Mayowa and Arden Key for a chance to start at the weak side defensive end position.
Houston cornerback Isaiah Johnson is a big 6’2″ fast man and cover-three specialist. Rookies Johnson and Mullen will be great “big” additions to defensive coordinator Paul Guenther’s defensive backfield.
Louisiana State University tight end Foster Moreau is more of a blocking tight end than anything else and ended having 46 catches in his final two seasons for the Tigers.
Clemson wide receiver Hunter Renfrow was a steal. Word around the campfire was that Renfrow was destined to be a New England Patriot before the Raiders swooped in and scooped up their third Clemson starter and fourth championship game participant.
Renfrow, is the proverbial garbage man, the slot receiver who isn’t afraid to go over the middle. The receiver who’s baseball background factors in heavily to his ability to go up and get jump balls, cut on a dime and be shifty enough to avoid a defender.
Prairie edge/wide receiver Quinton Bell’s pick was a good old fashioned scouting flex by Mayock, who actually stumped his former cohorts at the NFL Network analysts desk and the production truck as well. Bell came from such a small school that they had no footage on him.
Bell was a former wide receiver and at 6’4″ 220 pounds, his 4.3 dash times make him a curious choice for an edge player but it also offers a speed element Oakland doesn’t have.
Under scrutiny from all of the NFL media, being ignored when they spoke and ultimately informed on by their own staff, Mayock and Gruden hatched a massive misinformation campaign.
The Raiders have sent out so much fake news it would give the Russians a run for their money. It’s poetic justice at it’s finest. Thru all the naysayers, all the quarterback controversy, being linked to every single player in the world, Oakland clamped down and kept everyone in the dark.
Mayock once again proved he is the master of the draft, in his absence the NFL Network scrambled to fill the position he occupied for the previous 14 years. All of the “B” squad gave a solid B+ effort, but even Mayock’s closest former colleagues had literally no idea what he was going to do and whether they accept it or not, it goes to show the Raiders owned the draft.