Musgrave: ‘Someone will emerge’ to support Murray, Raiders run game


Musgrave: ‘Someone will emerge’ to support Murray, Raiders run game

The Raiders run game wasn’t good enough last year. It far too inefficient, and far too reliant on Latavius Murray to move on the ground.

In total, they ranked No. 28 with 91.1 yards per game. 

Raiders rushing got worse as the season went on and as games progressed. 

In sum, not good enough. 

Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave analyzed those issues, and wants to find plays best suited to the backs and linemen available.

“We want to do running concepts that our guys can execute, whether it’s the running back or the O-line,” Musgrave said. “We’re always looking to get better, of course, fundamentally and technique-wise. We’re going to keep working in that direction.”

The Raiders added some talent, and Musgrave knows he must develop what he already has.

The offense largely stood pat, though Musgrave believes free-agent left guard Kelechi Osemele will help the run game “be more productive.”

General manager Reggie McKenzie also added versatile rusher DeAndre Washington in the fifth round.

Adding a back was essential following a season where quarterback Derek Carr was the team’s second-leading rusher. The team retained its incumbents, including Roy Helu Jr., currently out recovering from hip surgery following a disappointing 2015 campaign.

Despite last year’s disappointments, Musgrave believes rushing well is possible with the players available to help Murray. He also agrees adding fresh blood was essential.

“I think Latavius did have to carry a majority of the load last year, so it will help,” Musgrave said. “I think we have a really good stable of runners right now. Someone will emerge and we’ll have different guys that will get put in different situations, whether it’s Jamize (Olawale) or Marcel (Reece) or Taiwan (Jones). Then there will be other guys that will emerge as well, so we’re looking forward to that component.”

Musgrave must hope something changes with incumbent support backs. Helu was underwhelming at best, an ineffective player who was a healthy scratch on several occasions. He had surgery on both hips this offseason, and is hoping the procedure gives him the agility he showed in Washington.

Reece has been an impactful runner when given the chance, but had just 10 carries last year in Musgrave’s first season calling plays. Jones only had 16 due to injury and ball security issues. Olawale showed quality flashes, but it seems Washington will be given an opportunity to earn carries as a rookie.

Evaluating rushers without pads is difficult, though Musgrave is intrigued by Washington’s talent. The next step is find plays that work for the Texas Tech alum.

“He has really worked well for us thus far, so we’re putting him in different situations,” Musgrave said. “We’re doing that to get a feel for he’s strengths and how we can tailor plays, tailor situations so he can really flash for us.

"He’s going to be good in first, second or third down. I know (special teams coordinator Brad Seely) is excited to have him on special teams also.”

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


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.