Raiders

Gruden: 'Al Davis would be very proud of Derek Carr'

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USATSI

Gruden: 'Al Davis would be very proud of Derek Carr'

Jon Gruden has always been a big Derek Carr fan. The former Raiders coach and current ESPN color analyst studied him intently prior to the NFL draft, and believed he would be a quality pro.

“Carr is a very rare prospect,” Gruden said Wednesday in a conference call. “His Fresno film speaks for itself. He mastered two different systems and had two head coaches. He was calling his own plays, for crying out loud, in Fresno.”

The belief was cemented during Gruden’s QB Camp, where top quarterbacks are invited to film ESPN segments that take a deep dive into a quarterback’s ability.

“I can remember him throwing the ball like it was yesterday,” Gruden said. “We have two cameras set up 20 yards downfield on each hash mark, and we threw some seam passes toward them. Most of the guys hit the screen, a couple would hit the target. Derek Carr hit the bull’s eye both times and broke my cameras. He put on a show for the NFL players.

“What hasn’t been said about Carr today is about his intangibles. He’s such an upbeat kid. He has so much passion and energy and leadership. He fun to be around. He’s a superstar. He deserves a lot of credit, and I’m glad he’s getting some national television play.”

Carr will be in the spotlight on Monday Night Football, when his Raiders play the Houston Texans in Mexico City for a showcase game. Gruden will be the color analyst for this one, and will see Carr up close for the first time as a broadcaster.

Gruden believes Carr can do it all, and is a primary reason why the Raiders are 7-2 heading into this pivotal AFC clash. That opinion is supported by terrific numbers, with 2,505 yards, 17 touchdowns to just three interceptions, with a 99.1 passer rating.

“He’s a much better athlete than people think,” Gruden said. “They can run the zone read. They can run a lot of plays that make it hard for a defense to do things. He’s a smart guy, and they can use different formations.

“To put it honestly, this guy has a cannon. He’s got a gun. He can throw it tight windows with very little movement. He has a quick release and very little lower body movement. He has an arsenal of receivers. Al Davis would be very proud of Derek Carr.”

Raiders run rehearsals to prep Mike Mayock for first NFL draft as GM

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AP

Raiders run rehearsals to prep Mike Mayock for first NFL draft as GM

Mike Mayock doesn’t like mock drafts. He did one per year for NFL Network, a practice initially done kicking and screaming.

Those were designed to satiate fans while working his old job. This week’s mock draft was of a different kind, specifically designed to prepare for his new one.

The preeminent NFL draft analyst was named Raiders general manager last New Year’s Eve, and will run his first NFL draft representing a team at any level of scouting or a personnel department.

Head coach Jon Gruden ultimately has final say on players selected, but Mayock helped set the Raiders draft board, and will be the team’s liaison negotiating trades during a three-day event that begins with Thursday night’s opening round.

It’s the first time he’ll under fire with the Raiders on the clock or trade offers made on the fly, and Mayock wanted to prep for that. The Raiders stacked their draft board, and planned to set up some actual mock drafts with calls coming in with Mayock and Gruden reacting in real time.

“The week of the draft, I think we’re going to spend an awful lot of time in there, in our war room, in our draft room with the people that are going to be there, kind of going through every scenario that we can,” Mayock said on April 11, at his pre-draft press conference. “I’m going to have people calling in on the phones and trying to get Jon and I rattled and proposes. Let’s be honest, I haven’t done it before. So, if I’m going to evaluate myself, I have to make sure I’m prepared.”

That endeavor started on Monday, per NFL Network. The Raiders planned to work on specific scenarios that required quick answers and an ability to adjust properly.

“There’s two minutes left on the clock and three phones are ringing. What is the process?” Mayock said. “How are we going to react as a team? Where is everybody even sitting in the room? What’s the feedback? How quickly am I going to get the information on the trades and the point values? So, there’s a whole bunch of stuff and I’ve kind of got it, I said to Jon, it’s game week. We want to get in there and practice our game plan no different than the team would for a Sunday game.”

The Raiders pared the room down before preparing for draft day. Mayock told his scouts to head home on April 19, the final weekend before the draft and were asked not to return. That decision created some waves, though it’s understandable considering all the information had been gathered – other teams don’t let scouts see the draft board – and it was a terribly-kept secret that major turnover was coming to the scouting department. Even director of college scouting Shaun Herock – like most scouts, he was hired by previous GM Reggie McKenzie -- was asked to leave and is expected to work elsewhere in 2019.

The Raiders have closed ranks to keep things quiet and remain unpredictable heading into a pivotal NFL draft where they own three first-round picks and four in the top 35 overall.

A leak still go out, however, with NFLN’s Mike Silver reporting that Mayock made some early trades and took picks without red flags in the early going.

Mayock wasn’t going into this completely green. He has great NFL connections and has covered the draft long enough to know how it’s run inside draft rooms. It was still important for Mayock to feel as prepared as possible heading into this big moment.

“Over the last 18 years or whatever, I’ve got pretty good feedback for what happens, how it happens, the pressures, the time frames,” Mayock said. “I’ve talked to a lot of people in this building about how they’ve done it in the past. Where’s everybody sitting? What’s up on the boards? I’ve changed some things already with what’s going to be up in the room and some of the information available to us and how we’re going to process that information. I think the important thing, Michael, is at the end of the day is just some of these practices, putting some pressure on ourselves and hoping that if we put enough pressure on ourselves Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday under a bunch of different kind of conversations and trades, that when Thursday night comes and Friday Saturday, we’re more than prepared to deal with anything.”

Gruden is confident that, when the clock starts and calls come flying in on trades and scenarios – they certainly, with the Raiders owning three first-round picks – Mayock will execute well.

“He is such a great communicator and has so many connections in the league, it helps to get deals done,” Gruden said. “He is not afraid, he's got the guts and he has the knowledge to pull the trigger. That is what I really like.”

NFL mock draft 2019: Raiders can rebuild with three first-round picks

NFL mock draft 2019: Raiders can rebuild with three first-round picks

The Raiders can take their first steps into the future beginning Thursday.

That's because they'll have three selections in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft. The Silver and Black finished 4-12 a season ago, and have plenty of holes to fill on their roster.

They'll have the opportunity to do so early in Mike Mayock's first draft as Raiders general manager, as they currently have more first-round picks than any other team in the league. That's the upside of trading former first-round picks Khalil Mack (Chicago Bears) and Amari Cooper (Dallas Cowboys), making the bitter pill of seeing both play instrumental roles as in their new teams' respective playoff pushes.

[RELATED: Top draft prospects enjoyed meeting Raiders staff on visits]

The Raiders need plenty of help on both sides of the ball, but where do they begin in the second draft of the second Jon Gruden era? Here's what experts from around the country are projecting in their mock drafts, starting with our own Scott Bair and Matt Maiocco.

Scott Bair and Matt Maiocco, NBC Sports Bay Area
No. 4: Ed Oliver, DT, Houston
No. 24: Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama
No. 27: Rock Ya-sin, CB, Temple

What Bair said on Oliver: "This likely becomes a trade-down scenario for the Silver and Black, but they should be content to take a versatile, dynamic defensive lineman with interior pass-rush ability that teams covet. Oliver has drawn Aaron Donald comparisons, and the Raiders would be thrilled to add a talent who can create havoc from several different techniques up front even if he doesn’t reach Donald-like heights."

What Bair said on Jacobs: "Jacobs is the best running back in this draft, a do-it-all talent who should fit well in Jon Gruden’s offense. He’s a solid interior runner and receiver, with a willingness to protect the passer."

What Bair said on Ya-sin: "He’s physical, competitive as heck and makes plays on the ball. That’s a fit for what the Raiders want in the secondary."

Peter King, NBC Sports
No. 4 overall: Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama
No. 21 overall (Oakland trades Nos. 24 and 106 to Seattle): Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama
No. 27 overall: Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia

What King said on Williams: "Since the Raiders have a crying need at tackle—their top-rated DT was not in the top 50 of the 2018 Pro Football Focus DT rankings—Jon Gruden, who has ultimate say in Oakland, will greenlight this pick, and GM Mike Mayock gladly will take Williams here as the first pick of his NFL GM career."

What King said on Jacobs: "The Raiders would have to move only three spots ahead to make it happen, and probably wouldn’t have to denude its mid-round picks to do so. ... I met with Jacobs last week, by the way. Delightful fellow. Hungry to be a great NFL player, and he’s a versatile back too. Jon Gruden could turn him into a 1,700-total-yard back as a rookie."

What King said on Baker: "Touchdowns allowed in coverage over his last two college seasons: zero. He might drive defensive coordinator Paul Guenther crazy with his practice habits, but his game production, at least in college, made up for that."

The Washington Post
No. 4: Ed Oliver, DT, Houston
No. 24: Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State
No. 27: Noah Fant, TE, Iowa

What they said on Oliver: "The Raiders could opt to take Josh Allen to improve their edge rush, but Oliver is too intriguing as an Aaron Donald-like disruptive force in the middle of their defensive line."

What they said on: "Jon Gruden would be able to allow Haskins some time to adjust to the NFL, given the presence of incumbent starter Derek Carr."

What they said on Fant: "They need a tight end to replace Pro Bowl selection Jared Cook, and the combination of Ed Oliver, Dwayne Haskins and Fant would represent an A-plus first round for Oakland."

NFL.com
No. 4: Ed Oliver, Houston, DT
No. 24: Josh Jacobs, Alabama, RB
No. 27: Darryl Savage, Maryland, S

What they're saying on Oliver: "It wouldn't shock me if [Ohio State quarterback] Dwayne Haskins is the pick, but the Raiders are desperate for pass-rush help and Oliver can help them in that area."

What they're saying on Jacobs: "The question is, do they take Jacobs here or do they wait and find a back in the middle rounds, where there's still value?"

What they're saying on Savage: "There are a bunch of teams picking late in the first round that are looking at safeties, and I think Savage will find his home in this range."

Miami Herald
No. 4: Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama
No. 24: Greedy Williams, CB, LSU
No. 27: Parris Campbell, WR, Ohio State

What they're saying on Quinnen Williams: "Jon Gruden’s D produced a meager 13 sacks last season (next lowest team total was 30), and in Williams they get a guy who could be the next Aaron Donald."

What they're saying on Greedy Williams: "The one knock on Williams is he likes to avoid contact. But you know Jon “Chucky” Gruden thinks he can coach toughness into somebody, right?"


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What they're saying on Campbell: "Oakland’s third first-round pick was gotten from Dallas in the Amari Cooper trade. Fittingly, they target that same position here with a guy whose sprinter’s speed, big-play potential and return ability make him a sleeper prize."