Raiders

Raiders trade 2016 second-round DL Jihad Ward to Dallas

Raiders trade 2016 second-round DL Jihad Ward to Dallas

ALAMEDA – Raiders defensive lineman Jihad Ward played a ton as a rookie, mostly out of necessity. The 2016 second-round pick moved way down on the depth chart the following year, with other options healthy and playing far better.

The Illinois product was a healthy scratch most of the season, and didn’t impressed a new Raiders coaching staff led by Jon Gruden this season.

He didn’t stand much of a chance to make the 53-man roster, especially after the Raiders selected defensive tackles P.J. Hall and Maurice Hurst in this year’s NFL Draft.

Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie said Dallas called about Ward, and that he was expendable due to the draft additions along the defensive line.

Ward was traded to Dallas for receiver Ryan Switzer on Saturday afternoon, shortly after the Raiders made their last scheduled pick. The Cowboys first announced the transaction.

It's hard to imagine Ward had even a short-term future in Oakland -- he was behind three incumbent defensive tackles, with two draft picks coming in -- so getting anything for him was a coup. 

“When they called, it kind of opened doors," McKenzie said on Saturday. "Bottom line is we drafted two interior guys and that kind of opened the door, and I was willing to listen. They had a player that they were willing to let go and we want some competition as a returner. He’s a slot receiver, so it made it easy for me with that decision and thought it was a good way to upgrade our football team.”

Switzer was Dallas’ fourth-round pick last year, and didn’t establish himself as an offensive player. He was a solid return man, averaging 8.8 yards per punt return, which includes an 83-yard touchdown.

Switzer became expendable after Dallas traded for receiver/return man Tavon Austin earlier on Saturday.

Ward had 32 tackles and a sack in two years with the Raiders.

Jordan Devey signing gives Raiders offensive line depth

Jordan Devey signing gives Raiders offensive line depth

The Raiders hope Rodney Hudson plays every single offensive snap in 2019. He might be the league’s best center, and is the unquestioned leader along the offensive front.

They need a Plan B, even if they never hope to use it. Jon Feliciano was the primary reserve at guard and center, leaving a void upon signing with the Buffalo Bills.

Jordan Devey will fill it. The former Kansas City Chief signed a one-year contract with the Raiders on Thursday, the team announced, adding depth and versatility to an overhauled front.

Devey spent parts of five NFL seasons with New England, the 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs, primarily as a reserve guard. He played more center over the past two seasons, and has some tackle work on his resume. Devey finished last season on injured reserve with a pectoral issue

Offensive line coach Tom Cable prizes versatility, especially with a need on the inside. Second-year pro Brandon Parker is expected to be a swing tackle.

Kolton Miller and Trent Brown will be starting tackles, with Hudson at center. Gabe Jackson and Denzelle Good look like starting guards at this time.

[RELATED: Raiders GM Mike Mayock explains the value of important pro day tour]

Devey was clean cut Thursday when signing with the Raiders, but he rocked a pretty serious mullet last season in Kansas City.

Raiders GM Mike Mayock explains the value of important pro day tour

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USATSI

Raiders GM Mike Mayock explains the value of important pro day tour

General manager Mike Mayock and his traveling Raiders band are on a college pro day tour.

They were at Alabama on Tuesday, Ohio State on Wednesday and will be at Kentucky on Friday, connecting with elite NFL draft prospects worthy of the Silver and Black’s No. 4 overall selection. Coaches and scouts have shuffled in and out, which the GM personally visits prestigious schools important to this year’s Raiders draft.

Alabama’s Quinnen Williams, Ohio State’s Nick Bosa and Dwayne Haskins, and Kentucky’s Josh Allen are the main attractions, but the Raiders are keeping a close eye on everyone at these big-name schools.

The Raiders have watched game film on all of them and evaluated NFL combine workouts. They have met with several and done homework on those under consideration. Mayock’s pouring over tape day and night preparing for his first NFL draft as an NFL general manager.

They know these prospects well, but Mayock still sees advantages in going to pro days himself.

“I think it’s a couple different things,” Mayock said Wednesday in an interview with NBC Sports Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco. “When you’re in person you get a better feel. You can watch all the tape in the world, which we do, but when you’re here in person you sometimes get a better feel for their movement ability. You get a better understanding for how they interact with each other, with the coaches. I’m big on collecting information.”

Mayock didn’t see Williams or Bosa do any on-field work. Both guys stood behind excellent combine stats and bowed out of pro-day drills. According to Maiocco, Allen will follow suit and sit out during drills at Kentucky's pro day Friday. 

“We’re seeing more and more of the top 10 or top 20 guys who are electing not to work out,” Mayock said. “To be honest with you, if you have a couple years of tape and a full combine workout, we ought to be able to evaluate him.”

The Raiders will conduct a private workout with Williams so defensive coordinator Paul Guenther can see him up close. Such an exercise will happen with other prospects the Raiders are considering throughout the draft, especially with their four valuable selections in the top 35 overall.

The Raiders were still able to check in with Bosa, believed to sit high or on top of their draft board. Kentucky’s up next, where the Raiders will keep an eye on several prospects including a host of defensive backs. Allen will be a focus despite not doing anything at Wildcats pro day. He has done enough already. That includes a decision to return for his senior season, which Mayock believes paid big dividends.

He has moved near the top of most draft boards following a season where he had 88 tackles, including 21.5 for a loss, 17 sacks, and five forced fumbles.

[RELATED: NFL insiders believe Raiders could be most improved in 2019]

“He’s a talented edge rusher,” Mayock said. “I think most of the league’s very aware of him. He put some weight on this year and carries it well. I think he’s kind of a testament to coming back to school as a senior. I think he enhanced his draft status immeasurably coming back bigger, stronger faster and having the kind of year he had.”