This year’s draft affords the Las Vegas Raiders a chance to competently fill out their roster. Yet, if the past serves as any indication, this administration earned a reputation for falling completely flat in the draft process. Granted, later-round picks like Maxx Crosby paid immediate dividends. The Raiders, overall, if we’re honest, failed miserably to reap the benefit of the Mack/Cooper deals. In effect, they squandered draft capital, placing them behind the proverbial eight ball. 2021 won’t help them escape previous mistakes, but will hopefully change the ailing approach.
Character Over Talent
When the Raiders drafted Clelin Ferrell in 2019, they touted the selection as a high character player that will contribute. Meanwhile, Devin White leads and plays a vital role in his team winning a Super Bowl. Back to Ferrell: the Raiders missed. I am sure that the former Clemson standout gained the admiration and respect of his teammates and coaches. Yet, on the field, he remains a fully-formed player entering his third season. Capped out athletically, Ferrell lacks the burst to play anything but a run-stuffing defensive end. While that seems to shade those ends who set the edge and stop backs, the fourth overall pick must provide more of an immediate impact with the potential to improve, using physical gifts.
Film bears this out. If you’re not a Chargers’ lineman, Ferrell has nothing for you. Kicking him inside also proved fruitless. Proponents want to tough his sterling run stopping. Teams do not spend a top-five selection on a player that specializes in being a two-down edge player. Unfortunately, neither one of those downs features passing. Entering year three, Ferrell and the Raiders must know that he will not play in Vegas during his fifth year. His option would be too high for the production that he shows. Mayock and Gruden overthought and hamstrung their team in selecting him.
While the Raiders’ brass continues to defy logic in drafting, like selecting a player in the third they traded before the season, the law of averages needs to find Vegas. No team can continue to commit error after error, falling further and further behind the curve, right? Even the winless Browns cobbled together picks, winning a playoff game. With specific needs, a new defense, and offensive direction, Vegas can’t botch 2021, can they?