Raiders

NFL Draft 2019: Johnathan Abram best Raiders value pick, Todd McShay says

NFL Draft 2019: Johnathan Abram best Raiders value pick, Todd McShay says

The Raiders picked three times in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft, and it's the last of the trio that ESPN's Todd McShay favors the most

With the No. 27 pick in the draft, the Raiders selected Mississippi State safety Johnathan Abram. McShay calls Abram a "human torpedo," and he was the draft analyst's top safety in the draft. 

"The hard-hitting safety brings a lot of energy to the secondary and can be a defensive leader for this rebuilding defense," McShay wrote on Saturday.

Abram, 5-foot-11 and 205 pounds, is known for his aggressive style. He totaled 195 tackles in three years in college -- 15.5 for loss -- and added five sacks. He has closing speed and ran a 4.45 40-yard dash at NFL Scouting Combine. 

Most importantly, he fits exactly what head coach Jon Gruden wants on his defense. 

"He's a competitor and fits what Jon Gruden is looking for in defensive assets," McShay wrote. "My top safety is going to be a very good NFL player." 

Gruden respects Abram's game so much he's already giving him a prestigious jersey number in Raiders history. When he toured the Raiders' locker room before his introductory press conference, a helmet with a No. 24 decal was waiting for the rookie.

The number has been worn by the likes of Fred Williamson, Willie Brown, Charles Woodson and most recently, Marshawn Lynch. 

“That means the world to me,” Abram said in a 1-on-1 interview with NBC Sports Bay Area on Friday. “I know I have big shoes to fill. There have been a lot of greats wearing that number like Charles Woodson and even Marshawn Lynch. He’s going down as one of the greatest running backs to ever play.

“The standard has been set. I have to uphold that standard.”

[RELATED: How Mel Kiper Jr. views Raiders' nine picks]

Abram joins a group of Karl Joseph, Lamarcus Joyner and Erik Harris looking for playing time at safety. The tenacity that Gruden and McShay saw should get him on the field sooner than later.

What Raiders head coach Jon Gruden learned from his first football job

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AP

What Raiders head coach Jon Gruden learned from his first football job

Jon Gruden is one of the most respected football minds in the country.

Even with a 10-year hiatus from coaching to work in the broadcast booth, the former Super Bowl-winning coach was coveted by Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis.

In 2018, Gruden was finally convinced to come back down to the sidelines by Davis.

What where did Gruden get his start? As a graduate assistant under head coach Johnny Majors at the University of Tennessee in 1986.

"I learned I knew nothing and my only chance was to work hard and take notes," Gruden told ESPN's Paul Gutierrez. "Walt Harris, at Tennessee, gave me no choice. Little things. Details. He always emphasized that preparation and presentation go hand in hand."

Harris, a San Francisco native and future Stanford head coach, was Tennessee's offensive coordinator at the time.

Thirty-three years later, Gruden still leans on what he learned during his time in Knoxville.

"First impressions go a long way, you know?" Gruden told Gutierrez. "The guys that helped train me to coach ... I pattern my whole career after those guys, getting in a routine, how to study tape, trying to not underestimate any detail. Just trying to cover every base. You've got to do the preparation before you present the game plan."

[RELATED: Carr a potential MVP sleeper]

After going 4-12 in his first season back at the helm of the Raiders, Gruden is looking for better results in 2019. He and new general manager Mike Mayock have added major weapons on offense in an attempt to change their fortune.

Now, it's a matter of imparting the wisdom he's gained over the last 33 years on his players.

Aaron Rodgers calls Ex-Raider Charles Woodson best defender he ever faced

Aaron Rodgers calls Ex-Raider Charles Woodson best defender he ever faced

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has faced a multitude of impressive defensive players in his 14-year NFL career. During a recent interview at the American Century Championship celebrity golf tournament at Lake Tahoe with NBC Sports NFL Analyst Chris Simms, Rodgers was asked which defensive player he's feared the most during his career. 

"It’s Charles Woodson,” Rodgers told Simms during an episode of "Unbuttoned."

“I got to go against him in practice for years. Nobody had better instincts, could bait quarterbacks better than him, more talent, ball skills, coverage ability, smart little nuances of the position. He’s the best. By far.”

Rodgers was teammates with Woodson with the Green Bay Packers from 2006-2012, and they helped lead the Pack to a Super Bowl victory in 2010. He grew a particular appreciation for Woodson during his time practicing against the cornerback while they were both in Green Bay.

“Charles dominated in a way I never saw anybody dominate before. The 2009 season, one of the greatest seasons I’ve ever seen,” Rodgers said. “What he did on defense, impacting the game, I’ve never seen a player impact the game that way until Aaron Donald.”

In 2009, Woodson had nine interceptions and was named the Defensive Player of the Year along with being named First-Team All-Pro. The former MVP quarterback also doesn't feel that Woodson has exhausted all of his ability on the field.

[RELATED: 49ers, Raiders picked to be among most improved teams by NFL analyst]

"He could probably still play today, he's in that kinda shape, you know," Rodgers told Simms.

Woodson previously has denied that he has any intention of returning to the NFL, but Raider Nation no doubt would be excited to see that No. 24 jersey back on the field in the Silver and Black.