How infuriated would you be if Jon Gruden took an offensive player with his first pick in the first round, Raider Nation?
Defense is the Raiders’ Black Hole, without a doubt. However, stranger things have happened at Silver & Black Central in Alameda.
Let your imagination flow a little bit here:
What If: The first three picks in the NFL Draft are defensive players — Nick Bosa, Quinnen Williams, and Clelin Ferrell, let us just say — and Gruden and Raiders General Manager Mike Mayock are staring the premiere offensive tackle Jonah Williams right in the face at No. 4?
A blind person can see edge rusher is a definite need for a team that produced a comically bad 13 total sacks this past season. Nevertheless, there is another strong argument that exists in Raider Land: Quarterback Derek Carr needs support to flourish.
Moreover, that help begins and ends with the offensive line.
Ferrell bulldozing Williams in that lopsided waxing Clemson had of Alabama is going to stand out for the naysayers. However, for that one play — in which Williams was manhandled — there is numerous others of Williams handling every variety of pass rusher the collegiate landscape had to offer.
Yet, for a Raiders OL (some see as being saddled by an ineffective position coach), bookend tackles — last year’s first-round selection Kolton Miller and potentially Williams — is a must-have for Carr. Especially against a Vic Fangio-coached Denver defense that features edge terrors Bradley Chubb and Von Miller (if he has not traded). Considering how Kolton struggled when he was nicked up (played well when healthy) at left tackle and Brandon Parker adjusting to the NFL level at right, bolstering an offensive line that was at the forefront of Carr’s 52 sacks is sound in theory.
Two different teams, two different systems, two different coaches — however — the Indianapolis Colts’ turnaround started with taking guard Quenton Nelson (6th overall) coupled with taking do-everything linebacker Darius Leonard (36th overall) in the first two stanzas of last year’s draft.
There’s an absurd amount of time before the draft in late April and a lot can happen. Just look at the whirlwind of rumor and innuendo after the Arizona Cardinals hired NFL head coaching neophyte (but offense whiz kid) Kliff Kingsbury as the head honcho. A video surfaced of him saying he would take prospect Kyler Murray No. 1 overall. This after reports surfaced the Oklahoma star would enter the NFL draft after becoming the Oakland A’s first-round pick in baseball.
On a side note, imagine if the Cardinals did take Murray No. 1. That would drop Bosa and other defenders right down the pecking order. That — even if it is highly unlikely — would be fortuitous turn of events for the Raiders.
There will be a bevy of smoke and not all of it will be accompanied with fire. Gruden and Mayock are likely to play their cards close to the vest, although, Raiders beat writers found out early last year it was offensive tackle or nothing for Gruden the first round.