After an awful season in 2018, the Raiders were looking to start fresh with a stockpile of number one picks last Thursday night in the NFL Draft. And slotted at 4th overall, Oakland’s coach Jon Gruden and new GM Mike Mayock were potentially in position to take the player that the Buccaneers, specifically, would have wanted. And, do it one pick before them.
However, an exclusive look inside the “Raiders Draft War Room” in real time from last Thursday night has been published by Peter King of Pro Football Talk on Monday.
And in it, King reveals that the Raiders never got a phone call from anyone while on the clock, including the Buccaneers, Gruden’s old team. Or, no phone call from the Jacksonville Jaguars, who were slated to pick three slots later at number seven.
As it turns out, the Bucs stood firm and grabbed LSU linebacker Devin White with the fifth overall selection. There had been great speculation that a team, like the Redskins who were picking 15th or even, the Giants who were picking 6th, might make a call and a move to get either the Bucs fifth pick or higher, the Raiders 4th pick to ensure drafting the quarterback they wanted.
We now know that the Giants, who were obviously certain that the Raiders and the Bucs weren’t going to take a quarterback, went ahead and picked Duke quarterback Daniel Jones at number six.
Giants GM David Gettleman has claimed post-draft that they believed at least two teams, probably the Redskins and the Broncos, would take Jones before the Giants picked at#17 later on Thursday night. Washington did take Ohio State QB Dwayne Haskins at 15 and Denver traded up to take Missouri QB Drew Lock early in the second round Friday night.
Back to Thursday, after the Giants took Jones, the Jaguars were next at number seven. And they wasted no time calling out the name of Kentucky outside edge-pass rusher, Josh Allen, to help bolster their defensive line. Obviously, the Jags knew once the Raiders had taken Clelin Ferrell, defensive end of Clemson, that Tampa Bay was likely going to take a defensive player, also and maybe, even take Kentucky’s Allen, themselves.
What we don’t know and may not ever know, is whether the Jaguars called the Bucs about trading in front of the Giants up to number five to get their guy. Or, if they just “played it cool,” and waited to see if Allen would fall to them. And of course, ultimately, the SEC leading sack man a year ago did fall right to them without having to make a trade.
It’s further interesting from King’s recounting of the Raiders private discussions that later in the night that Oakland was fearful that the Eagles had potentially traded in front of them to grab running back Josh Jacobs of Alabama. That’s who Oakland was slotting to take with their 24th pick. Some have ridiculed Oakland for picking a running back in the first round, however, it’s less risky, financially and otherwise, to do it where they did. In the end, Philly didn’t take Jacobs and the Raiders drafted their back at #24.
However, this also a reminder of what Gruden did when he was coaching the Buccaneers and Bruce Allen was his general manager in 2005. That’s when the Bucs picked Cadillac Williams at running back from the Auburn Tigers at fifth overall. Williams went on to have a great rookie season including becoming the first back in the history of the NFL to run for a hundred yards or more in the first four games of his first season. However, injuries to both knees derailed Cadillac’s career and turned the pick into a bust.
And worse looking back, the Buccaneers and Gruden (and others) could have drafted a certain quarterback early that day in ’05, who plummeted in the first round before going to… the Green Bay Packers.
That player was Aaron Rodgers.
So, time and history will judge how smart the Raiders, Bucs, Giants and Jags did with the 4th-7th selections last Thursday. It’s just fascinating to read the rationale’ behind what the Raiders did and didn’t do.
And, the same with Tampa Bay and Jacksonville right after them.
Dolphins and Jaguars may be very interested in deep WR class
It’s never too soon to start talking about possible premium draft picks coming in April for the NFL’s 2020 draft. And, for the Dolphins and the Jaguars they may both very well be interested in what appears to be the deepest position this season.
NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah has been touting the 20/20 receiving draft class for several weeks now. And, that included his appearance on the NFL Total Access show Thursday night:
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) February 14, 2020
“I started scouting with the Baltimore Ravens in 2003. This is bar none, the deepest, best wide receiver class that I’ve seen, since I began scouting.”
To be more specific, Jeremiah has laid out the six receivers that he has right now in his top 25 of overall players The 2020 draft to be held in Las Vegas at the end of April. Those include: Oklahoma Speedster CeeDee Lamb, Alabama stud Jerry Jeudy, maybe the fastest player in the entire draft tide receiver Henry Ruggs III, National Champion LSU lanky speedster Justin Jefferson, Arizona State physical, big receiver Brandon Aiyuk and Colorado junior eligible Laviska Shenault.
As Jeremiah makes clear, not all of these receivers may end up going in the first round and there are several other names besides on his list that are probably NFL caliber who will still be around in the third round or later and yet make an impact on Sundays.
And that brings us to both the Dolphins and the Jaguars who are likely in need, especially early I’ll try to get one of these Playmakers.
In 2019, the Dolphins saw DeVante Parker develop into the possible number one yearly receiver that they believed he would become when they took him in the first round in 2015. Miami also has high hopes for un-drafted big receiver Preston Williams who was showing promise until suffering a torn ACL in midseason last year. However, other than that, Miami doesn’t have much else to hang their hat on.
As for Jacksonville, clearly in 2019 former second round pick D.J. Chark demonstrated that he has potential to be a number one receiver year in and year out. He showed an early connection with backup rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew, and Chark finished the season with 1,008 yards on 73 catches and 8 scores. Jacksonville also got good output from another guy with speed in Chris Conley.
But, from there the talent level drops off in North Florida.
So while there are plenty of factors and variables, like which receivers are when you are coming up for selection, there will apparently be no shortage of players to choose from that can make an impact on night three or even day three of the NFL Draft.
Prominent state names among NFL Combine invitees
A sign that the NFL Draft process is well underway is when the NFL publicizes their official list of players who will be attending the 2020 Scouting Combine at the end of the month.
— NFL (@NFL) February 7, 2020
Some of the most notable names include Heisman Trophy and National Championship winning LSU quarterback Joe Burrow, along with other potential number 1 draft picks at that position, Tua Tagovailoa of Alabama and Justin Herbert of Oregon. There was one state invitee at the QB position and that’s James Morgan, the FIU quarterback.
The running back position has Heisman finalist Jonathan Edwards and also, has several familiar names to state fans led by FSU leading rusher, Cam Akers.
Akers (photo above), who declared early for the 2020 draft giving up his final season of eligibility, is joined by Miami running back and receiving specialist DeeJay Dallas. Also invited was Florida under-sized power back LaMical Perine.
The wide receiver position is particularly deep with invitees by the NFL, and that includes the Gators trio of Tyrie Cleveland, Van Jefferson and Freddie Swain. Also, invited is outstanding UCF wide out Gabe Davis, who gave up his final year of eligibility in Orlando and will be at the combine.
Arguably the best tight end in the draft is Harrison Bryant of Florida Atlantic who led the position nationally in catches and yardage. Bryant could be a first round pick in late April. Also on the Combine list is USF tight end, Mitchell Wilcox.
On the defensive side of the ball is the leading pass-rushing sack artist from college football in 2019 in Chase Young of Ohio State. Miami’s Jonathan Garvin was another defensive lineman added to the mix. Next, Hurricanes linebackers Shaq Quarterman and teammate Michael Pinckney were among the linebacker invitees from Friday.
At defensive back, UCF’s Neville Clark is joined by Florida’s C.J. Henderson, FAU’s James Pierre and Florida State’s Stanford Samuels.
The combine is a five-day process allowing interviews for players with the 32 teams and then, individual position group workouts and 40 yard dash times that will take place at Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium.
The NFL Network still holds the exclusive rights to televise the workouts, which has now expanded to over 50 hours of coverage for that week