2019 NFL Draft: Raiders in driver's seat to secure No. 1 overall pick


2019 NFL Draft: Raiders in driver's seat to secure No. 1 overall pick

Well, the Raiders did their job.

They stunk yet again Sunday, ensuring they didn’t lose the No. 1 overall pick in next year’s NFL draft. The 49ers did them a solid Monday night, allowing the New York Giants to hit two wins and keep the Silver and Black in firm possession of the top draft pick position.

Trading Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper netted two more first-round picks, putting the Raiders in prime position to rebuild an ailing roster. Here’s where their three first-round picks stand after 10 weeks of NFL action:

No. 1 overall (Last week: No. 1)
How it was earned: 
The Silver and Black are in the driver’s seat here, especially after the Giants beat the 49ers and left them as the NFL’s only one-win team. The 49ers still are hot on the Raiders’ trail for the top pick, but the Silver and Black can clinch if they just never, ever win a game this season. It might be an exercise in futility, but it would guarantee Jon Gruden gets the guy he really, really wants.

No. 14 overall (Last week: No. 11)
How it was earned: 
This pick took a dip due to the Cowboys showing some resilience. Beating the Eagles on Sunday night proves that Dallas still is in it and could move further down the draft order. The Raiders would hate that after trading Cooper to the Cowboys for their first-round pick. That stock dipped a bit, and Dallas losing would drive it back up.

No. 24 overall (Last week: No. 22)
How it was earned: 
This selection gets worse and worse with the Bears fighting not only for the NFC North title but for a home game in the NFC playoffs. The Raiders traded Mack for the Bears’ top pick in this draft, among other things, and aren’t getting much in return in 2019. Mack had two sacks Sunday to help drive this draft pick down, something the Raiders should’ve considered when they allowed his talent to help dictate how good the 2018 Bears would be.

'Hard Knocks' shows two interesting exchanges about Antonio Brown's helmet


'Hard Knocks' shows two interesting exchanges about Antonio Brown's helmet

Antonio Brown’s last week has been well documented. He returned to Raiders training camp after roughly 10 days away on April 13, a week back from Tuesday’s episode of “Hard Knocks.”

His recovery from frostbitten feet, increased activity in walk-throughs and pregame warmups and his ongoing helmet issues were all chronicled by NBC Sports Bay Area and others in great detail. So was his decision to leave the Raiders Napa training camp complex and skip Sunday’s practice, which prompted the general manager Mike Mayock’s “all-in or all-out” proclamation.

The third “Hard Knocks” episode didn’t tread tons of new ground, though unique access provided two interesting conversations with head coach Jon Gruden.

The first came with agent Drew Rosenhaus on the day Brown came back from rehab with a foot specialist. The second occurred with Brown himself on Saturday, the eve of Brown’s second departure from Raiders camp.

Let’s look at what he heard from Rosenhaus first, which focused on the helmet issue and the powerful agent admitted some missteps.

Rosenhaus: After nine years and you kick ass and you don’t have any injuries…I’m not saying that we handled it the right way, but he’ll kick ass for you. He’s going to help you win a lot of games.
Gruden: Yes, yes he will.

Brown has been emotional about this helmet issue and is passionate about wearing his preferred helmet. He has, according to NFL Network’s Mike Silver, gone so far as to paint the helmet he likes in Raiders colors despite it coming from outside the team.

Brown has worn a different helmet Thursday before the exhibition at Arizona and again for Tuesday’s practice, at least, but he doesn’t like it.

“It’s one of the new, approved helmets, and he really doesn’t like it,” Gruden said Thursday, a quote aired on the show.

Later, Brown confirmed his dissatisfaction with the helmet.

“Is this an ugly lid or what?” Brown told a teammate.

While Mayock had to play bad cop on Sunday, Gruden has owned the good cop role in this whole Brown saga.

He did so after a Saturday walk-through in Napa, when the Raiders thought he was with the team to stay.

Gruden: I’m really impressed you know all the formations.
Brown: I’m a professional. I would feel like a slapd--- if don’t know what the f--- to do, right?
Gruden: Do your feet feel all right?
Brown: Once they get hot they get a little burning, but for the most part I feel good. When it gets hot, I have to take my shoes off.
Gruden: Why don’t you go to a cryochamber and…
Brown: F--- that. I’ll never do that again. Thanks for supporting me, Coach. My f------ head, the feet, the people after me
Gruden: I’ve been there.
Brown: You’ve been a constant support, Coach.
Gruden: If you have any problems…I have problems…
Brown: We’re in this together
Gruden: I know you have a lot of people in your ear because you’re like a corporation that has kind of gone global. But, at the end of the day, let’s keep the sh—simple. Football comes first. Everything else comes way behind right now.

Antonio Brown seen holding new NFL-approved helmet at Raiders practice

Antonio Brown seen holding new NFL-approved helmet at Raiders practice

It's another day and the Antonio Brown #HelmetGate is still ongoing. But there is a new update -- Brown is finally wearing a helmet.

Raiders coach Jon Gruden said Brown did indeed wear a helmet to practice Tuesday, and NFL Media's Ian Rapoport reported the helmet was a "Schutt Vengeance Z10 LTD" model, one of the 34 helmets approved for use by the NFL. It rated better than the "Schutt AiR Advantage" one Brown originally preferred that caused all of this drama.

You can check out AB walking with the helmet in the video player above.

Here's a closer look as well.

The "Schutt AiR Advantage" that Brown originally wanted was given a two out of a possible five-star rating by Virginia Tech Helmet Ratings and was deemed just "adequate." Plus, it was no longer produced by manufacturers. The one Brown reportedly wore in Tuesday's practice received five stars from the same rating company.

[RELATED: AB's helmet issue elicits Eisen rant]

It's not over, however.

Despite the certified helmet in tow, Brown filed his second grievance against the NFL to wear a more recent model of the Schutt AiR Advantage. 

That hearing reportedly will be on Friday.