Raiders

NFL Draft 2020: Peter King has Raiders taking receiver then cornerback

NFL Draft 2020: Peter King has Raiders taking receiver then cornerback

We're less than two weeks away from the 2020 NFL Draft, which will serve as another important moment in the Raiders' rebuilding project.

While rumors have swirled about the Raiders looking to take a defensive tackle with one of their two first-round picks, most see the Silver and Black going wide receiver and cornerback in some order in Round 1. That includes NBC Sports NFL insider Peter King, who said in his latest FMIA column that he believes the Raiders either will take Oklahoma's CeeDee Lamb at No. 12 if available, or grab Florida cornerback CJ Henderson and then draft the best wideout available at No. 19.

King also said he wouldn't be surprised if the Raiders draft a wide receiver at No. 12 and then trade up from No. 19 to make sure they secure Henderson.

That's a logical thought process. A big-time playmaker, whether it be Lamb or Alabama's Henry Ruggs makes sense for the Raiders at No. 12.

The Silver and Black lack the ability to create explosive plays which forces them to rely on long, methodical drives in order to put up points. That greatly hampered their ability to score points on a consistent basis in 2019. King believes Lamb, with his great after-the-catch ability and strong culture fit, is exactly what the Raiders are looking for.

It's hard to argue that point. I've long been a fan of Lamb's game believing he could be a DeAndre Hopkins-type player if put in the right system. Ruggs also would be an intriguing fit as his blistering speed is something the Raiders have coveted while watching Tyreek Hill run wind sprints over their face for the last few seasons.

As for corner, the Raiders must do something.

After missing out on Byron Jones and Chris Harris Jr., in free agency, and having their deal with Eli Apple fall apart, the Raiders are left with a big zero at one cornerback spot.

Henderson is seen as the second-best corner in the class after Ohio State's Jeff Okudah. Okudah is a can't-miss prospect, one the Raiders should look to trade up and grab if he begins to slip. If they stand pat, it feels unlikely Henderson will be there at No. 19, as King suggests.

In Dalton Johnson and I's latest mock draft, we have Henderson going to the Denver Broncos at No. 15. With Henderson off the board, don't be surprised to see the Raiders trade down from No. 19 in order to pick up another Day 2 pick and select one of the next three best corners -- LSU's Kristian Fulton, Clemson's A.J. Terrell or Utah's Jaylon Johnson -- in the bottom of Round 1 or early in the second round.

King's thought of the Raiders trading up to grab Henderson is between No. 12 and No. 19 is something that feels unlikely given the Raiders' need for draft picks. If they don't think his coverage skills are elite enough to draft at No. 12, it's hard to see them surrendering draft capital for him a few picks later.

NBC Sports Bay Area Raiders insider Scott Bair and I have been going the rounds about what the Raiders should do at No. 12. He's adamant they should take Henderson. I say take the explosive playmaker since you have one budding star at corner in Trayvon Mullen and no home-run threats at wide receiver.

[RELATED: Five potential busts for Raiders to avoid]

It's a debate that's sure to rage until general manager Mike Mayock and head coach Jon Gruden log onto the NFL's virtual draft portal and enter their selection.

Then the debate truly will begin.

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Tim Brown rips Bill Callahan as 'worst thing' to happen to Raiders

Tim Brown rips Bill Callahan as 'worst thing' to happen to Raiders

Tim Brown and Bill Callahan probably won't be making plans to go out the brunch anytime soon.

The Pro Football Hall of Famer has been a vocal critic of his former coach for a long time. He blames Callahan and his last-second game plan change as the reason Pro Bowl center Barret Robbins disappeared prior to Super Bowl XXXVII. As far as Brown is concerned, the Raiders would have been better off if Callahan never coached the Silver and Black.

"I think this guy was probably the worst thing that ever happened to the Raiders organization," Brown said on NBC Sports' Sports Uncovered podcast, which details Robbins' Super Bowl disappearance.

[SPORTS UNCOVERED: Listen to the latest episode]

Callahan's attitude and the way he dealt with players rubbed a number of Raiders the wrong way.

"The way he handled his guys, the way he talked to men, the way he approached, and the lack of respect that he had for men, people had an issue with him," Anthony Dorsett said.

It wasn't just the struggles of a first-year coach, though. Brown says he and other Raiders tried to get Jon Gruden to cut Callahan loose while the latter was offensive coordinator.

"We tried to get Callahan fired in '98 and '99," Brown recalled. "He walked off the field twice. At the middle fourth quarter of games that we should've won, we weren't winning. 'You guys don't want to win here. I don't know why I came here.' Walked off the field. Went to Gruden, Gruden went, 'Hey, guy's emotional, whatever.' Did the same thing in '99. and we went to him again. We said, 'You got to fire this guy. We can't have a coach walk off in the middle of the game on us.' And Gruden wouldn't fire him. So from that standpoint on, we understood that Callahan was in a seperate category."

When Gruden was traded prior to the 2002 season, a number of players went to owner Al Davis to ask him to hire Callahan, believing they were on the cusp of greatness following the heartbreaking loss in the "Tuck Rule Game" the year before.

But the differences between Gruden and Callahan were stark, and things with the Raiders changed.

"Dudes would play for Gru," Dorsett said. "Dudes would play for Gru. They love him, you know what I'm saying? When Callahan became the coach we played for each other.

"When he addressed the team as head coach, he was like, 'I don't need any more friends. So, that's not what I'm worried about here."

It was clear almost immediately to Brown that this wasn't the right call.

"Callahan didn't care about us," Brown said. "He could care less about us. It was a job for him. WIth Gruden, there were relationships there."

[RELATED: Would Raiders have won Super Bowl if Robbins played?]

Despite the lack of connection with Callahan, the Raiders steamrolled through the regular season and into the Super Bowl, where Gruden and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were waiting.

The Raiders, filled with swagger, thought the title was theirs. But a confluence of events, including Robbins' disappearance and Callahan's decision to change the game plan on Friday, left them shellshocked entering Qualcomm Stadium.

The Bucs were ready for everything the Raiders threw at them, and some members of the Silver and Black swear Gruden knew what plays were coming.

The 48-21 demolition by the Bucs led some to charge Callahan with purposefully handing his former boss a title.

"We have guys on the sideline at the Super Bowl, who are trying to get the head coach," Brown said. "Guys who want to fight him, at the Super Bowl. On the sideline. In the locker room. That's all anybody was talking about. 'This is sabotage, Callahan. You did this for Gruden!' "

Callahan has denied the accusations. He was fired after the following season when the Raiders posted a 4-12 record.

Was it sabotage? Doubtful. But it's clear Callahan was in over his head from Day 1 as the leader of the Silver and Black.

Raiders claim Jon Gruden, Buccaneers knew their plays in Super Bowl XXXVII

Raiders claim Jon Gruden, Buccaneers knew their plays in Super Bowl XXXVII

Editor’s note: Sports Uncovered, the newest podcast from NBC Sports, shines a fresh light on some of the most unforgettable moments in sports. The fifth episode tells the story of "The Mysterious Disappearance that Changed a Super Bowl," chronicling Barret Robbins' absence from Super Bowl XXXVII.

The Raiders arrived at Super Bowl XXXVII prepared to reclaim their rightful place atop the NFL. Only their old coach Jon Gruden and the Tampa Bay Buccanneers stood in their way.

The Silver and Black were confident in a victory. They were armed with the No. 1 offense in the NFL, and weren't scared of the Bucs. By now you're aware of the story. Pro Bowl center Barret Robbins went missing the night before the game and the Raiders were trounced 48-21.

After the thrashing, the excuses started flowing from the Raiders. The fingers were pointed at Robbins for going missing and at coach Bill Callahan for his drastic last-minute game plan alteration. But while Robbins' disappearance -- which is the focus of NBC Sports' latest episode of their Sports Uncovered podcast series -- had a big impact, many Raiders believe the Gruden effect played a bigger role, believing the Bucs knew what plays they were running.

"Every level of the defense knew what we were doing," former right tackle Lincoln Kennedy said. "They knew what to look for when we checked versus a blitz. They knew where we were going with the ball. They knew Rich's rotation."

[SPORTS UNCOVERED: Listen to the latest episode]

"You have never played a football game where 95 percent of the plays, the other team, they can guess what plays you are running based on scheme," Mo Collins recalled in 2011. "But these guys, we was breaking the huddle, and they was calling out our formation, and bossing over to our formations." (Mo Collins died in 2014. He was 38.)

If the Bucs did know the Raiders' plays, the blame should fall on Callahan for not switching up the checks from when Gruden coached the Raiders the year prior.

"I played with some of them after the fact," former defensive tackle Sam Adams said. " And they're like, 'We cannot believe you're using the same checks, and the same terminology.' We -- I mean Gruden ran practice saying, 'He's using the same stuff that he put in.' Come on. How can that be?"

To members of the Bucs, though, all this talk are just excuses for the beating they laid on the Raiders.

"It's the same offense that Jon Gruden ran when he was there," former Bucs defensive tackle Booger McFarland said. So, we practiced against the same offense for a year. So, if you're not going to change any of the same audibles that Gruden uses in Tampa, that's on you."

[RELATED: Al Davis never got over Super Bowl loss to Bucs]

The Raiders walked into Qualcomm Stadium without their Pro Bowl center, and with a game plan that was barely 48 hours old. They left with their tail between their legs.

Looking back on the loss, none of that mattered. The Raiders were instilled as four-point favorites, but that line was off.

That was always Gruden and the Bucs' Super Bowl to win.