Raiders

NFL draft: How Raiders' need for edge rusher impacts their strategy

NFL draft: How Raiders' need for edge rusher impacts their strategy

The Raiders signed some expensive big-name free agents shortly after the market opened, and traded for another just before that. The depth chart thickened after that, leaving few positions demanding attention from the NFL draft.

Make no mistake: upgrades or potential would be welcome most anywhere, but there are few spots where the Raiders can’t survive without more bodies.

The whole NFL world knows there’s an exception. The Raiders need quality and quantity edge rushers after failing to find free-agent fits in a market with so many elite pass rushers franchise tagged.

The Raiders have Arden Key, recently added veteran Benson Mayowa, run stopper Josh Mauro and AAF graduate Alex Barrett and ... that’s it.

Edge rusher/defensive end is a need so glaring it might work against the Raiders in this NFL draft. Teams know how bad they need one or, more likely, two in this draft. There’s depth in this defensive line class, but true impact players generally go high.

We could see teams jump ahead to snag one before the Raiders, but general manager Mike Mayock said that’s not unique to his particular situation.

“People are looking at what we need, just like we’re looking at what they need,” Mayock said Thursday in his pre-draft press conference. “We’re doing the same thing. Who might need this position? Who might jump ahead of us? Where do we need to go to get that guy because team ‘X’ needs a ‘whatever’ position. That’s all part, I think, of the intrigue, the game of poker that this is.”

Poker is made tougher when competitors know what you need most. Opposition research is prevalent, and the Raiders will have a strong sense of where teams will lean on draft day, but coming out of the first four picks without a dynamic edge rusher, even if Alabama interior lineman Quinnen Williams goes at No. 4, puts the Raiders in a pickle.

Going for the best available may be wise in the long run, but will the Raiders be able to work their way into a quality edge rusher (or two) with trades or luck or pre-draft deception? They seemed set on offensive tackle last year once the elite prospects were gone, with Mike McGlinchey and Kolton Miller as top options. They traded down an got the tackle they wanted and needed.

They would jump the moon if Ohio State’s Nick Bosa shockingly fell to No. 4 this year. Josh Allen is considered a top 5 pick. Montez Sweat and Rashan Gary should be gone in the top 10. Clelin Ferrell and Brian Burns are likely gone before the Raiders pick again at No. 24.

The Raiders must address other needs as well, and don’t want to extended beyond the draft board too far with so many top draft slots available. Mayock says the Raiders need four foundational players in this draft, regardless of position. One of them better be an edge rusher, sparking the age-old debate of best player versus need.

[RELATED: Why trading down could help Raiders find foundation pieces]

“I’m the son of a coach and I know how coaches think, and coaches think need,” Mayock said. “And we are a coach-driven building, our coaches are highly involved and that’s good. I embrace that. The flip side is you can’t reach, you got to use some common sense and that’s what I preach upstairs.

Is that if we are in a situation where if two similarly rated players and one is a higher position of need, great, let’s go get him, but if there is a discount, a disparity between two let’s not reach for need because the more you do that, the more you dilute your roster, and that’s a conversation we’ve had a lot.”

Raiders' Derek Carr won't stick to sports as he tries to unite people

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Raiders' Derek Carr won't stick to sports as he tries to unite people

Derek Carr was one of the first white quarterbacks to speak out following the death of George Floyd in police custody.

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz, Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow and Tennessee Titans signal-caller Ryan Tannehill also were among the first to speak out against systemic racism and police brutality and call for unity.

Carr normally isn't one to make such statements, but he knows this is an important moment in history and he has a platform that can help drive change. He plans to do so in order to drive unity. The "stick to sports" Carr is a thing of the past.

"For years, we have all been taught to "just stay out of politics." (When one side is so far one way and the other side is so far the other.)," Carr told NFL media's Jim Trotter. "Not just as a white athlete, but all athletes in general. I think over the last couple of years, people have begun to break down these barriers by using their platform for what they believe is right. Something I was always taught as an athlete was to keep your head down and be you when there is a major headlining story. I use my platform to preach all over the world, which is an honor and a blessing. But recently, it started to weigh heavy on my heart that it was time to stand up and say what I have been feeling for a long time, disregarding what anyone from any standpoint had to say or think about it. I felt in my heart this was the right moment to speak up, to not care so much about politics but instead speak truth.

"I have been angered and heartbroken by any loss of life in the past, but now I feel that I am in a place where I can make a difference with my actions and not just my words. I'm working closely with teammates and higher-ups in the Las Vegas community to take actual actions and stride to make our country better. My goal is simple, and that is to unite people. Nothing bigger, nothing smaller. Unity is how we will see real change occur! As a spiritual, God-fearing man, I believe that our country is dealing with major spiritual, heart and system issues. Therefore, I firmly believe the blood Jesus shed on the cross is the answer; not fighting and anger.

"I feel the same way today as I always have. I want everyone to feel loved and welcomed. I want every life to be so precious to everyone. I want people to love their neighbors just as they love themselves. I want a genuine respect and unity for every life that lives in these United States and calls it home. I want the fighting to stop. I want people to help people in need. I want to see people stop striving for power in politics and actually do what they say they were going to do. I want to see prayer back in schools. I want to see team sports be a place where all different walks of life come together for a common goal in our communities. I want to see children raised up loving everyone and not counting them out before they actually know them. That's what I want to see."

Make no mistake about it, Carr, a white starting quarterback for a marquee NFL, speaking out is important. 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman recently spoke on the importance of white quarterbacks speaking out in this moment, and how their voice is received differently by those who would brush off the fight for social and racial equality when it comes from black athletes.

“I’m impressed with the white QBs speaking up because those are voices that carry different weight than the black voices for some people,” Sherman told Albert Breer of The MMQB. “Which means the people who refuse to listen to a black athlete’s perspective will hear the same thing said from a white athlete, but receive the message much differently. So it’s awesome that more people are speaking out, because in sports, you really have a love and appreciation for your fellow man, regardless of race."

Carr's pledge to help unify comes in the wake of widespread protests following Floyd's death.

Floyd, a 46-year-old African-American man died in police custody when Derek Chauvin, a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for over eight minutes. Video captured a handcuffed Floyd telling Chauvin and the other three officers watching that he couldn't breathe and asking for him to let up. Chauvin did not and it was later announced Floyd died in police custody. Chauvin was arrested Friday and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. The other three officers have not been arrested but still could face charges.

[RELATED: Big offseason has Raiders primed for playoff return]

The Raiders signal-caller's pledge comes in sharp contrast to New Orleans Saints star Drew Brees. Just hours after posting a black square on Instagram in support of #BlackOutTuesday, Brees said he still wouldn't condone players kneeling in protest out of respect for the American flag, showing that he still doesn't understand why former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started kneeling during the national anthem in the first place.

Carr should be commended for his statements and his stance to no longer stick to sports. For too long that phrase has been used as a crutch by those who are too comfortable and too cowardly to address real issues. It's been an excuse to separate sports from the issues every day people face. It's a stance used by those who view athletes as object of their entertainment and not people with powerful platforms that should be used to speak truth.

Telling athletes to stick to sports is an excuse by those who are afraid to see the truth. Those who want to talk about how sports unify us and brush away the ugly truths of our country. Athletes are asked to hear the insidious things said to them in the stands and on social media and turn the other cheek in the name of not ruffling any feathers.

Many athletes are done sticking to sports as they should be. It's an admirable first step for Carr, but what comes next for all of us -- actually enacting change -- is the hard part.

[RAIDERS TALK: Listen to the latest episode]
 

Source: Raiders moving training camp from Napa to new Nevada facility

Source: Raiders moving training camp from Napa to new Nevada facility

The Raiders were set to conduct their offseason and training camp in the Bay Area before leaving permanently for Las Vegas. The coronavirus pandemic wiped out all football business at the team’s Alameda training complex, including most of a 2020 offseason program now conducted virtually with players, coaches and team officials staying home.

The team still had plans to hold training camp in Napa, but it seemed less likely in recent weeks with the team considering other options. Now that’s out of the question with the NFL mandating teams conduct training camp at their home facilities due to the ongoing public health crisis.

The Raiders will conduct their camp at their new facility currently under construction in Henderson, Nev. The complex is scheduled for completion by the end of this month, leaving plenty of time to be ready when camps start later in July.

A league source confirmed news on Tuesday afternoon that was first reported by ESPN.

Commissioner Roger Goodell explained the edict in a Tuesday memo to all 32 teams, stating that the league and the NFLPA wanted to limit travel and the need to maintain two facilities during the summer. The NFL and NFLPA have also banned joint practices this preseason, an increasingly popular trend the Raiders had joined the last two preseasons with the Detroit Lions and Los Angeles Rams, respectively.

This is a one-year mandate to train at home, not a permanent policy switch that impacts 10 teams who go away for camp. That means the Raiders could return to the Napa training camp facility, and owner Mark Davis loved during the team’s 25 summers spent in Wine Country. Davis didn’t rule out training in Napa even after moving to Las Vegas in an interview last summer, though that’s ultimately uncertain at this stage. The team does not have a contract to return to Napa in 2021.

[RAIDERS TALK: Listen to the latest episode]
 

While it’s extremely hot in Nevada during summer months when training camps are held, the Raiders have an indoor practice bubble as part of their facility. They could also conduct intense workouts early in the morning before temperatures rise. 

The Raiders will be fully entrenched in Nevada soon. Some moving trucks have already transported property from Alameda to Henderson, where the Silver and Black are building a gorgeous training facility. Allegiant Stadium is nearing completion just off the Las Vegas Strip, with July 31 as a scheduled completion date.

[RELATED: Raiders' offseason additions have Jon Gruden primed for playoff return]

Several Raiders players, including quarterback Derek Carr, have already moved to the Las Vegas area and are training in small groups at local gathering spots in the region.

The NFL is planning to start training camps on time, with government mandated shelter-in-place restrictions loosening as the economy begins to re-open. The full squad typically reports just over two weeks prior to the first preseason, which the Raiders are scheduled to play on Aug. 13 at Seattle.