The Raiders came into the 2019 NFL Draft under tremendous pressure. With three first round picks and four in the top 35, it was crucial that general manager Mike Mayock and head coach Jon Gruden get this one right for the future of the franchise. The overwhelming verdict is that they did!
From defensive end Clelin Ferrell all the way to seventh round pick Quinton Bell, the Raiders nailed just about every pick. Some of these players have the potential to be immediate difference-makers for the Oakland, so who are they?
This one’s obvious. You don’t draft a player with the fourth overall pick unless you expect him to produce right off the bat, and that’s exactly what the Raiders want Ferrell to do. The next two defensive ends behind Ferrell on the depth chart are second year lineman Arden Key and Maxx Crosby, who was a fourth-round pick this year, so it’s fair to say that Ferrell will be a week one starter.
While I’m sure Oakland fans are tired of hearing about the team’s league-low 13 sacks last year, the forecast is definitely looking better next year with new names like Ferrell and Crosby, and some sophomore improvement from Maurice Hurst, P.J. Hall, and Arden Key.
As soon as his name was called two and a half weeks ago, it was expected that Josh Jacobs would be Oakland’s lead back this year. Then, the news broke that Isaiah Crowell tore his Achilles during voluntary workouts, which cements the idea of Jacobs being the Raiders workhorse back.
The rest of Oakland’s backfield? The depth chart rounds out with Jalen Richard, DeAndre Washington, Doug Martin, and Chris Warren III. Richard and Washington are both best used as complementary, pass-first backs, and it’s likely that only one of them will make the roster. Warren missed all of last year with an injury, and recently posted on his Instagram story, appearing to be unhappy with the Raiders coaches telling him to cut his weight down. Martin had a surprisingly good season last year, but if the Raiders wanted him to start, they would have used that first round pick on a different position of need.
Personally, I believe Renfrow was the steal of the draft, and he’s easily the best slot receiver on the roster. His current competition for the slot receiver spot would be Ryan Grant and… Keon Hatcher? There isn’t a better option here for quarterback Derek Carr or Gruden than the sure-handed Renfrow, who is a bit undersized at 5’10”, 175 lbs. but is coming off one of the most respected college careers in recent memory with 186 catches for 2,133 yards, and 15 touchdowns. He’s tough as nails, catches everything, and should be a terrific security blanket for Carr.
While Oakland currently has Karl Joseph and Lamarcus Joyner occupying the two starting safety spots, there have been reports that the Raiders are planning to use the latter as a nickel cornerback. Because of Joyner’s flexibility, the Raiders will be able to play him in a few different spots, which leaves the door open for Abram.
Abram is a flat-out headhunter and has never been much of a ball-hawkonly. He had two interceptions in his two years at Mississippi State. However, he’s a hard hitter and is better used as some sort of box safety. His five sacks, and team-leading 99 tackles last year prove that.
The Raiders had a great three days in Nashville, and these four players have the best chance to help immediately. Be ready to see Ferrell, Jacobs, Renfrow, and Abrams lead the Silver & Black to some victories this season.