Raiders

Del Rio: Raiders haven't 'adequately addressed' middle linebacker spot

Del Rio: Raiders haven't 'adequately addressed' middle linebacker spot

The Raiders needed linebacker help entering the NFL Draft, especially in the middle. That hasn’t changed, even after taking Wake Forest’s Marquel Lee in the fifth round.

The Raiders took a cornerback, a safety and a defensive tackle in the first three rounds, supplementing talent-needy position groups.

A void remains in the eye of the storm. General manager Reggie McKenzie said before the draft he’d like to add a couple inside linebackers to the roster. Lee is one. Head coach Jack Del Rio believes another should be coming down the line. 

McKenzie wants to evaluate those currently on the team before looking for outside help. Del Rio considers it imperative the Raiders add more talent to an inexperienced, largely unheralded group.

“I don’t know that we’ve adequately addressed our middle linebacker position, to be honest,” Del Rio said Thursday afternoon on NFL Network. “I think we have some work to do there. The rest of our roster is pretty well situated, but we’ll be looking for a linebacker and we’ll continue to look, whether it’s the waiver wire, trades or available guys out there, veterans on the street. We’ll continue to look.

“The guys that are here, we’re going to develop and grow and hope we can take them to a higher level.”

McKenzie said the door isn’t completely closed on Perry Riley, who started 11 games at middle linebacker for the Raiders last season and remains on the open market.

Free agent signing Jelani Jenkins is viewed more as a weakside linebacker.

Lee, second-year pro Cory James, and third-year man Ben Heeney are currently in the mix to play at middle linebacker. The rookie is untested at the NFL level, and the other options need more consistency and time to develop.

Adding another player would certainly help the Raiders, who have struggled to find answers at that position in free agency or with later-round picks in the NFL Draft.

Raiders sign first-round draft pick Johnathan Abram to four-year contract

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Raiders sign first-round draft pick Johnathan Abram to four-year contract

The Raiders are getting some business done before summer vacation truly starts. The Silver and Black signed a third member of their NFL draft class late Tuesday afternoon when No. 27 overall pick Johnathan Abram inked his rookie contract.

No. 4 selection Clelin Ferrell and No. 40 pick Trayvon Mullen signed earlier in the day.

No. 24 overall pick Josh Jacobs is the only Raiders draftee that remains unsigned, and it’s certainly possible his deal gets done before rookies formally leave on summer vacation later this week. They stayed an extra week after the offseason program’s end to work with the strength staff and player engagement department on off-the-field education common to all first-year NFL players.

Abram was slotted to receive a contract worth $11.45 million over four years that includes $6.380 million in a signing bonus. There’s also a fifth-year team option available that is standard for all first-round picks.

[RELATED: AB setting new standard for all Raiders during offseason program]

The Raiders selected Abram with the first-round pick the Dallas Cowboys gave up for Amari Cooper. Abram impressed during the offseason program and joined the first unit during the final week of OTAs. He was there again in minicamp, and a solid training camp could lock him into a starting safety spot right away.

Trayvon Mullen, Raiders' second-round draft pick, signs four-year contract

Trayvon Mullen, Raiders' second-round draft pick, signs four-year contract

The Raiders offseason program ended Wednesday, but rookies stick around another week-plus to work with the strength staff and player engagement folks, who go over off-the-field insights that used to be covered during the rookie symposium.

That means they’re still around to sign contracts. The Raiders inked their second-round pick Trayvon Mullen to a four-year contract on Tuesday afternoon, shortly after announcing a completed deal for No. 4 overall pick Clelin Ferrell.

Mullen was taken at No. 40, slotting into a four-year contract worth $7.25 million. It comes with a $3.29 million signing bonus.

That’s two former Clemson Tigers signed the same day. The Raiders drafted a third, but fifth-round pick Hunter Renfrow was locked up weeks ago.

Mullen worked primarily with the second unit, at outside cornerback, during the offseason program. He joins a competitive position group led by Gareon Conley. Daryl Worley is another presumptive starter, though Nevin Lawson and Mullen will have an opportunity to push for significant snaps in 2019.

“I feel like you’re getting someone who could potentially be a lockdown corner in this league,” Ferrell said back in May. “He has every athletic skill set that you need in a corner, and obviously has that competitive mindset. That’s the biggest thing, you can have all the ability, but are you a competitor? That’s the thing he definitely has.”

[RELATED: Guenther believes Ferrell perfectly fits Raiders' scheme]

No. 24 overall pick Josh Jacobs and No. 27 selection Johnathan Abram are the only 2019 draft picks who haven’t signed contracts. That could easily happen this week, while rookies are still in town.

Issues aren’t expected with either deal, and could be signed before the full squad reports to Raiders training camp on July 26.