Opinion: Raiders GM Mayock showed wisdom in the draft

“REACH!”

That was the reverberating notion from analysts – both professional and amateur after the Oakland Raiders made Clemson defensive end Clelin Ferrell the No. 4 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.

General manager Mike Mayock, however, didn’t mince words regarding the Ferrell selection on Thursday night when the first round concluded.

“On our board, it was he and (Nick) Bosa at that position,” Mayock said. “They were right next to each other.”

Of course, Bosa went No. 2 to the San Francisco 49ers allowing the Raiders to pounce on Ferrell at the fourth spot. “Reach!” was quickly followed with “Ferrell could be had later!” and “The Raiders didn’t get value by taking Ferrell there!”.

Two things are lost in that maniacal ranting:

  1. It takes two to tango and the Raiders simply didn’t get the value it wanted to move down.
  2. Did you see the run on defensive lineman in the first round.

Ferrell wasn’t guaranteed to be available when the Raiders were on the clock again at 24 and Mayock did the wise thing and took his guy. Better to secure the player atop the board than trying to scramble and fumble through contingency plans, especially for a first-time general manager on draft night.

A lot could have gone wrong and instead of gambling and going for the emphatic home run, Mayock played it conservative. Triples, doubles and singles can still win you a ballgame and that’s the wise approach Mayock took. Instead of being had on a trade – Raider fans are accustomed to being being fleeced during on-the-clock trades, so much so there’s a unique Eddie Bauer fleece just for Raider Nation – the rookie general manager played it Cool Hand Luke.

“We trusted our board, didn’t make any moves, and the players came to us,” Mayock added.

All that even with fiery head coach Jon Gruden not only engaging in lively debates, but staring his hand-picked general manager down.

“You’re trying to tell coach Gruden, Trust me, if we trade back 10 spots, our guy’s still going to be there, and we’ll pick up another pick,’” Mayock said. “And Jon’s staring at you and you’re just sitting there going, ‘Man, it’s a lot different than NFL Network … and that guy better be there in 10 picks.’”

Now, this isn’t to say Ferrell is going to be an instant hit for the Raiders. The former Tiger does fill a huge need as both an adept run defender and quality pass rusher. However, Mayock may have shown he knows how to pick them and it’s up to Gruden and his staff to show they can teach them.

A glaring unknown in the scouting process on Ferrell is, unlike his Tigers teammates, he didn’t clock a 40-yard dash time in workouts. That sprint helps determine the effectiveness of an edge rusher. Look at how many observers marveled at Montez Sweats’ ungodly 4.41 40 time at the combine.

“Jon and I had the conversation and it was kind of like, does it bother us if he didn’t run a 40? Yes, it does. Especially because he’s a hard worker,” Mayock said. We got three years of tape, if we can’t figure out if this kid can set the edge and rush the passer, it’s on us, not on the kid.”

Game film shows a determined defensive end who is a violent hand fighter that engulfs the run and gets to the quarterback in a hurry. Sure, he was surrounded by excellent talent along the Clemson defensive line, but knocking Ferrell for that isn’t fair. Don’t hate on the fact the Tigers are sound at recruiting and developing talent.

All eyes on if Mayock and Gruden can do the same thing.

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