NFL Draft 2020: Jon Gruden, Raiders could surprise in multiple ways

NFL Draft 2020: Jon Gruden, Raiders could surprise in multiple ways

The Raiders enter the 2020 NFL Draft in an advantageous position. Sitting with the Nos. 12 and 19 overall picks, the Silver and Black can wait and see how the top 10 starts to shake out before deciding whether to use some of their draft ammunition to move up or see which top prospect slides to them.

With needs at wide receiver, cornerback and interior defensive line, the Raiders have the luxury of taking the best player on the board at No. 12 rather than being tied to one specific need.

While most believe the Raiders will address wide receiver and cornerback first in some order -- Raiders insider Scott Bair and I have traded barbs about this -- coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock will no doubt have many contingencies plans in place depending on how the draft shakes out. Surely not all of them will travel the expected path.

To the highest bidder

The Raiders need to add elite talent to the roster, but Mayock and Gruden also want to add to the war chest.

A trade down from No. 19 is likely and expected, in order to try and find a second-round pick the Raiders currently don't have due to the Khalil Mack trade. But don't be surprised if Mayock and Gruden entertain trading down from both  12 and 19. Teams will be clamoring to trade up either to take quarterback Jordan Love, grab one of the remaining offensive tackles or nab an elite wide receiver and the Raiders could drive up the price believing they can find starting talent later on.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (No. 14), Denver Broncos (No. 15) and Atlanta Falcons (No. 16) all would love to move up a few spots to secure their desired prospect and the Raiders sit in a desirable position.

As for the No. 19 selection, that's a virtual no man's land in the draft. Unless a star prospect has a precipitous drop, that's a pick the Raiders could deal to move down to late in the first round and add a second-round pick.

Two first-round trade downs? Never say never.

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Sorry, Derek

Derek Carr will be the Raiders' starting quarterback to enter next season. That we know. We also know he'll be pushed by Marcus Mariota and how the Raiders attack the draft will tell us a lot about Carr's future as the franchise quarterback.

Adding offensive weapons to make sure Carr has everything he needs to sink or swim should be at the top of Gruden and Mayock's to-do list. But what if they decide there's a quarterback prospect who is too good to pass up on.

Gruden's draft history tells us he won't take a quarterback early. The Silver and Black have too many other needs to address. But a surprise trade up for Justin Herbert or Tua Tagovailoa can't be completely ruled out nor can the Raiders selecting Jordan Love at No. 19.

OK, maybe you can rule it out. But we're talking surprises and the Raiders moving up for Herbert or Tagovailoa would be a draft-day stunner.

[RELATED: Claypool leads Day 2 prospects for Raiders to target]

No WR in Round 1

All this talk about CeeDee Lamb, Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs has fans and media penciling in an elite wide receiver at No. 12, and you can't count me among the herd.

Gruden and Mayock invested heavily in the defense in free agency, so going offense in the draft makes sense. But what if they decide to take an improving unit from decent to great by adding two top defensive prospects in the first round.

Auburn defensive lineman Derrick Brown is a complete game-wrecker. A top-10 talent who could slide if there's a run on quarterbacks and offensive tackles, the Raiders could not pass up Brown at No. 12. If Brown's not there, the Raiders could snap up Florida cornerback CJ Henderson at No. 12 and then try to inch up to select South Carolina star Javon Kinlaw, making defensive coordinator Paul Guenther the happiest man on the planet. 

Mayock has raved about how deep this receiver class is and believes there is starting-caliber talent to be found in the third round. He's not wrong. Day 2 gems like Chase Claypool, Michael Pittman Jr., Van Jefferson, K.J. Hill and Bryan Edwards all can be found in the second and third rounds.

Offense sells and Lamb, Jeudy and Ruggs all could be Vegas stars. But an all-defense first round could allow Mayock and Gruden to try and add two high-quality receivers on Day 2. If that means adding two game-changers to your defense, it can't be ruled out.

Derek Carr plans to honor Kobe Bryant by wearing arm sleeve this season

Derek Carr plans to honor Kobe Bryant by wearing arm sleeve this season

Kobe Bryant was a giant in the sports world and his tragic death left an impact that won't soon be forgotten by athletes, fans and media members alike.

Derek Carr grew up a California kid who idolized the Los Angeles Lakers star, watching all of Bryant's brilliance that he could. Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash along with his daughter Gianna and seven others in January, was his sports hero growing up, and the Raiders quarterback will honor Bryant by wearing an armband on his left arm this season.

"I tried my best to think,' What would be a cool way to honor Kobe?'" Carr told Raiders reporters in a Zoom conference all Tuesday. "This is a personal thing, I don't care what anyone else thinks about it. This is for me. What would be a cool way to honor Kobe Bryant? He always wore an arm sleeve on his arm. I was like, 'Well, I can't wear one on my right arm, so I'll wear one on my left arm.' It's really just to honor Kobe. I'm sure you'll see a lot of players doing that with number changes ... I think you'll see a lot of players just wanting to honor him, because as a kid I watched every YouTube video, I watched every game. I would tell my dad by the way he ran down the court, 'This is going to be a post-up fadeaway. He's set him up." And it would happen. I just watched everything.

"He just meant so much to me. Then, when I got to know him. Then, he followed me on Twitter, that blew my mind. That was the day of my life. Just getting to know him, talk to him, have conversations with him, just what he meant to me as an athlete. The Mamba Mentality is trying to be the best version of yourself every day. I have the big old poster in my office, my weight room now with that Mamba Mentality mantra on it. It's just a way to honor him, so I'll wear it all year. The only reason is to honor him and just what he meant to me as a kid growing up."

[RELATED: How Mariota impressed Gruden early in Raiders tenure]

Carr and the Raiders are entering a new chapter after they moved from the Bay Area to Las Vegas this offseason. Now in Year 3 of Jon Gruden's rebuilding project, Carr is hoping he can build off the solid season he had last year and lead the Raiders back to the playoffs.

Doing so with the spirit of Bryant on his left arm.

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Raiders' Jeremiah Valoaga, D.J. Killings opt out of 2020 NFL season

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Raiders' Jeremiah Valoaga, D.J. Killings opt out of 2020 NFL season

Two Raiders have been added to the growing list of NFL players opting out of the 2020 season.

Former UNLV defensive end Jeremiah Valoaga and cornerback D.J. Killings are the first two players from the organization to make the decision.

The moves were confirmed by an official transaction announced by the team as they were placed on the reserve/opt out list.

Valoaga has spent time with the Lions, Dolphins and 49ers. He was claimed off waivers in December and signed a one-year deal with the Raiders in April.

Killings is a cornerback who spent last year on injured reserve for the Raiders and was re-signed in May.

Read more at the Las Vegas Review-Journal