The Oakland Raiders may have once again finished on the outside looking in at the playoffs, but they have laid the foundation for a blazing start in Vegas.
Heading into the 2019 NFL Draft, the Oakland Raiders knew they needed to do something big in order to turn the franchise around. Being arguably the most important draft class in franchise history, due to the fact they held three first round draft picks, nobody really knew what to expect from them on Draft day.
Remember, general manager Mike Mayock was brand new in the role, having never been a GM before. There were also rumors that the franchise was done with Derek Carr, and that they would package some of their draft picks to move up in the first round, possibly selecting Kyler Murray from Oklahoma.
When it was all said and done, the Raiders kept all three of their first round picks, and they must be extremely happy that they did. All three players have the talent to be cornerstones for this organization moving forward, and some made incredible contributions on the field in year one.
Looking at the first round, the Raiders selected Clelin Ferrell with the No. 4 overall pick, and while it took him a bit to get started, he finished his rookie season on a high note. Early in the year, Oakland had to use him on the inside a lot, but once he moved to the edge, he showed the kind of potential that could make him a double-digit sack guy at the NFL level.
Later in round one, the Raiders did something that most teams frown on by selecting a running back at No. 24 overall. That running back turned into the expected Offensive Rookie of the Year, as Alabama’s Josh Jacobs ran over, and around NFL defenses all season long, and did most of his damage with a fractured shoulder.
While final first round pick Johnathan Abram got hurt for the season in Week 1, he is a guy who will completely revamp this secondary in 2020. He plays the safety position with incredible passion and skill, and should be ready to go by the time the team goes to camp next Spring.
After the first round, the Raiders really made a statement, bringing in three players who have proven they will be elite talents at the NFL level. Second round pick Trayvon Mullen from Clemson looks every bit the part of a CB1, as he got better and better as the season went on, and looked like a shutdown corner during the final quarter of the season.
In the fourth round, the Raiders held three picks, and while tight end Foster Moreau looks like a good one, and the word is still out on Isaiah Johnson, it was Maxx Crosby who was the team’s defensive Rookie of the Year. Crosby ended the season with ten sacks, coming 0.5 sacks away from tying the Raiders rookie record, and showed he can dominate by rushing the passer, and by containing the run.
Fifth round wide receiver Hunter Renfrow was as sure-handed as they come, finishing his rookie season with back-to-back 100-yard games. He is the perfect slot guy in Jon Gruden’s offense, and when he returned from injury in Week 16, he took over the team’s win against the Los Angeles Chargers to keep the team’s playoff hopes alive.
Oakland also added some key rookies that were undrafted, like punter A.J. Cole, who is clearly the team’s punter going forward. In addition, fullback Alec Ingold played at a Pro Bowl level this season, and the combination of him and Jacobs will be the team’s starting backfield for years to come.
Sure, missing out on the playoffs in the final season in Oakland is disappointing, but you have to believe that the franchise is set up for success in their first season in Las Vegas in 2020. Remember, they hold two more first round picks in the 2020 NFL Draft, and with what Mayock and Gruden pulled off last April, this is sure to be another exciting offseason.