“We can address tight end, running back, left guard, linebacker, another corner, and three defensive ends to help us out … who knows. Maybe quarterback. You never know,” head coach Jon Gruden said with a smile at the NFL owner’s meetings.”
Who knows, indeed. The Raiders roster, as such, allows the team to pursue multiple approaches in the draft. There isn’t one clear-cut path, the aim is bolstering a shaping roster with young foundation type players and build towards a cohesive squad when Gruden leads the Raiders in the desert of Las Vegas.
Ask for specifics and Gruden will hit you with a quip so outstanding, you can only be left unsure of the Raiders’ plan.
“I don’t know. You make all these statements, it depends on when you’re on the clock and sitting at No. 4 and the offers you have, to move back to whatever. What are they giving you?” Gruden shot back when asked what the team has planned. “We’re wide open to move up, wide open to moving back, and wide open sitting here and taking a guy that falls to us.”
Conventional wisdom says the Raiders take the best player available (BPA) when they are on the clock. The team is afforded such a golden opportunity with four selections in the top 35, it’s difficult to fathom how they make this situation FUBAR. Yet, lurking deep in the minds of Raider Nation are unconventional thoughts – like, yes, Gruden and handpicked general manager Mike Mayock can mess this thing up.
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The insistent rumors of Gruden coveting a quarterback at the No. 4 overall pick or higher is atop the list of how things will go sour. The Raiders did little to quell the flames of innuendo when working out both Oklahoma’s Kyler Murry and Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins, despite both Gruden and Mayock stating Derek Carr is the team’s franchise quarterback. Then there’s the smoke Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa and LSU linebacker Devin White are atop the Raiders’ draft board.
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Whether it’s due diligence or genuine interest, both Mayock and Gruden have boarded planes and taken off to scout talent. Both head coach and GM have been blazing the trails getting an up close and personal look at the top prospects in the draft. They’ve also got visits to the HQ in Alameda coming and going.
What’s Gruden looking for in prospects?
“I try to find out what’s in their wallet. What makes you tick, what is it you love?” Gruden began, “On the field, off the field. What do you love about football, what do you love about life? Do you have any passion in your life at all?
“I like to look at that team play when they’re behind. I loved watching (Michigan’s) Rashan Gary against Ohio State in the second half when they’re behind. That’s when you can find out how much they love it. I love to see them play against the toughest opponent. See if it brings out the best in them.”
If the Raiders faceplant in the draft, it surely won’t be for the lack of trying.