Raiders

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Raiders

The NFL draft is clouded in secrecy, with each team preferring to keep its intensions strictly hush hush. The Raiders made a concerted effort to hide their plans after last year’s pre-draft leaks, yet their affinity for Josh Jacobs was common knowledge.

Raiders coach Jon Gruden wanted the Alabama running back in Silver and Black, with the No. 24 overall pick in this year's draft earmarked for him.

There was high anxiety that wouldn’t be enough. NBC Sports' Peter King reported in his latest Football Morning in America column that stress levels raised an octave, or five, when the Philadelphia Eagles traded up from No. 25 to No. 22 in Thursday night’s first round.

The Eagles also were known to covet Jacobs and, since the whole world was aware of the Raiders’ interest, there was great fear that Philadelphia had traded up to grab him.

Jets cooled considerably, King writes, when Raiders general manager Mike Mayock realized the Eagles weren't trying to get above Oakland to steal Jacobs. They had moved in front of the Houston Texans to steal offensive tackle Andre Dillard.

That allowed the Raiders to exhale and re-energize their excitement to landing Jacobs right at No. 24, where Mayock, four months into his new job, planned to grab him all along.

 

King reported the Raiders had a chance to trade up to No. 16 and draft Jacobs for sure, but Mayock balked, insisting the Alabama star could be secured without losing picks. Sure enough, they landed Jacobs, one of three coveted first-round selections to end up in Silver and Black.

Clemson defensive end Clelin Ferrell came at No. 4, Jacobs at No. 24 and Mississippi State safety Johnathan Abram at No. 27, the last two exactly according to plan.

The Raiders looked to trade out of the fourth pick -- with Nick Bosa and Quinnen Williams off the board in previous selections -- and still land Ferrell down the line. They never found a partner. King writes that the Miami Dolphins' No. 13 pick was the Raiders’ trade-down limit, and that the phone simply didn’t ring when Oakland was on the clock at No. 4.

Ferrell, plus extra picks, was the ideal Raiders trade scenario, but that flew out the window. The Raiders went with the guy they wanted, and took Ferrell right there at No. 4. They landed the 4-3 defensive end who fit their scheme, one with great character and work ethic to lead a defensive youth movement over the next several seasons.

Both of those instances showed Mayock’s influence on the Raiders' NFL draft process, exerting discipline that paid dividends. He had that effect during the Antonio Brown trade in March. It helped land extra picks on Day 2 with rat-a-tat trade-downs without losing targeted Clemson cornerback Trayvon Mullen.

[RELATED: Let's break down Raiders' draft in Mayock-isms]

The Raiders navigated this draft professionally, showing the Gruden-Mayock partnership is finding a real stride.

“He’s well respected because of the amount of preparation he does,” Gruden told King about Mayock. “And he’s a great listener and a great teammate, too. I think we both have a strong desire to get this franchise going again.

"It’s an exciting time really because of the future of the Raiders and where we’re heading, players that we’re bringing in. It’s a pretty cool experience with him.”