Raiders

Rashan Gary not only Michigan defender Raiders should target in draft

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SCOTT BAIR

Rashan Gary not only Michigan defender Raiders should target in draft

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Rashan Gary didn’t participate in Michigan’s pro day. He was still the star attraction.

His mere presence was enough to draw focus. Gary is, after all an expected top 10 NFL draft pick.

Gary isn’t the only Wolverines defender who can flat play. The Raiders' staff on-hand surely saw that from linebacker Devin Bush, edge rusher Chase Winovich and cornerback David Long, respected prospects who won’t last too long in the NFL draft.

Gary will be one of the first off the board. Bush won’t last much longer.

The linebacker is a sure tackler and quality cover man who is battling the perception he’s too small to excel in the NFL. That’s why #undersized goes on all video of his excellent combine work and positional drills at Michigan’s pro day.

Bush, often viewed as the second-best off-the-ball linebacker behind LSU’s Devin White – Bush says he’s better, as you’d expect -- but is likely first round pick who could be a Raiders option at Nos. 24 or 27 overall.

Bush said he has met with 30 teams during the pre-draft process, including the Raiders.

Bush is done with most of his pre-draft work except for some official team visits, and believes he put a positive foot forward leading up to the draft.

“It’s stressful, but you have to enjoy the process,” Bush said Friday at Michigan’s Schembechler Hall. “I feel like my film speaks for itself. I’m fast, versatile and can tackle. I have a ton of range. I think I play the game the right way. I think teams see that as well.”

Long has met with the Raiders. At 5-foot-11 and 198 pounds, he’s built in the team’s preferred mold. He’s viewed as a Day 2, or maybe a Day 3 selection after a strong combine where he showed agility and solid change of direction.

NFL teams requested Winovich do drills as a defensive lineman and linebacker at Michigan’s pro day, a last-minute surprise to the man himself. He did them both, trying to build off a solid combine he hopes raised some eyebrows.

“I hope it forces teams to change their perception of me,” Winovich said, “to go back and re-look at tape and see that I’m athlete playing smart football and making plays.”

[RELATED: Gary believe's he's answer for Raiders]

He made plenty of big plays at Michigan. He had five sacks in 2018 and 18 total over the past three seasons as a weakside edge rusher. He also had 43 career tackles for loss. The Raiders desperately need production off the edge, where he has been a tireless pass rusher and run defender. Tireless can be a compliment, but Winovich has worked to erase the perception he's just, as he puts it, “a try-hard white guy.”

“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being a ‘try-hard white guy,’” Winovich said. “Lots of people make great careers out of it. It’s a good thing, but I’m trying to make the case that I’m that, but I’m also this. I’m also an athlete. You can have a motor that doesn’t stop while also possessing elite level quickness and agility. That’s what I have been trying to show through this process.”

NFL draft rumors: Dwayne Haskins moved up Raiders' board, is option at No. 4

NFL draft rumors: Dwayne Haskins moved up Raiders' board, is option at No. 4

The 2019 NFL Draft is less than 12 hours away and no one has any idea what is going to happen when commissioner Roger Goodell steps to the podium.

While there is a ton of intrigue surrounding the Arizona Cardinals, who hold the No. 1 overall pick, a lot of questions also surround what the Raiders plan to do at No. 4 overall.

For months it has appeared that Oakland would take Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams if he is still on the board, but there have been a number of leaks in the past week that suggest the Raiders have other plans.

Some have reported that head coach Jon Gruden loves Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray. The Raiders could either try to trade up to grab the Heisman Trophy winner or cross their fingers that the Cardinals pass so they can snatch him at No. 4.

But what if the Silver and Black have their eye on a different top-tier quarterback?

Reports leaked last week that Oakland has been "super impressed" by Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins, and NFL Media's Ian Rapoport reported Thursday morning that Haskins has moved up the Raiders' draft board and is an option at No. 4.

This is most certainly a draft day smokescreen from the Raiders.

But with news leaking that Washington owner Daniel Snyder has taken over the team's first-round approach in search of a quarterback, it's possible Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock are trying to force the Redskins, who reportedly love Haskins, to trade up in order to get their man. 

It could be that the Raiders assume Williams, Murray and Nick Bosa will go in the top three, leaving them with a choice between taking defensive tackle Ed Oliver or trading down.

The Raiders likely could get a haul for the No. 4 pick, and if the top three guys are off the board when they go on the clock, it would be a wise move to trade down in order to recoup more assets.

[RELATED: Follow all NFL draft rumors, news and notes here]

Of course, maybe they do really like Haskins and the draft will go off the rails four picks in.

Raiders run rehearsals to prep Mike Mayock for first NFL draft as GM

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AP

Raiders run rehearsals to prep Mike Mayock for first NFL draft as GM

Mike Mayock doesn’t like mock drafts. He did one per year for NFL Network, a practice initially done kicking and screaming.

Those were designed to satiate fans while working his old job. This week’s mock draft was of a different kind, specifically designed to prepare for his new one.

The preeminent NFL draft analyst was named Raiders general manager last New Year’s Eve and will run his first NFL draft representing a team at any level of scouting or a personnel department.

Head coach Jon Gruden ultimately has the final say on players selected, but Mayock helped set the Raiders' draft board, and will be the team’s liaison negotiating trades during a three-day event that begins with Thursday night’s opening round.

It’s the first time he’ll be under fire with the Raiders on the clock or trade offers made on the fly, and Mayock wanted to prep for that. The Raiders stacked their draft board, and planned to set up some actual mock drafts with calls coming in so Mayock and Gruden could see how they react in real time.

“The week of the draft, I think we’re going to spend an awful lot of time in there, in our war room, in our draft room with the people that are going to be there, kind of going through every scenario that we can,” Mayock said on April 11, at his pre-draft press conference. “I’m going to have people calling in on the phones and trying to get Jon and I rattled and proposes. Let’s be honest, I haven’t done it before. So, if I’m going to evaluate myself, I have to make sure I’m prepared.”

That endeavor started on Monday, per NFL Network. The Raiders planned to work on specific scenarios that required quick answers and an ability to adjust properly.

“There’s two minutes left on the clock and three phones are ringing. What is the process?” Mayock said. “How are we going to react as a team? Where is everybody even sitting in the room? What’s the feedback? How quickly am I going to get the information on the trades and the point values? So, there’s a whole bunch of stuff and I’ve kind of got it, I said to Jon, it’s game week. We want to get in there and practice our game plan no different than the team would for a Sunday game.”

The Raiders pared the room down before preparing for draft day. Mayock told his scouts to head home on April 19, the final weekend before the draft and asked them not to return. That decision created some waves, though it’s understandable considering all the information had been gathered – other teams don’t let scouts see the draft board – and it was a terribly-kept secret that major turnover was coming to the scouting department. Even director of college scouting Shaun Herock – like most scouts, he was hired by previous GM Reggie McKenzie -- was asked to leave and is expected to work elsewhere in 2019.

The Raiders have closed ranks to keep things quiet and remain unpredictable heading into a pivotal NFL draft where they own three first-round picks and four in the top 35 overall.

A leak still got out, however, with NFL Media’s Mike Silver reporting that Mayock made some early trades and took picks without red flags in the early going.

Mayock wasn’t going into this completely green. He has great NFL connections and has covered the draft long enough to know how it’s run inside draft rooms. It was still important for Mayock to feel as prepared as possible heading into this big moment.

“Over the last 18 years or whatever, I’ve got pretty good feedback for what happens, how it happens, the pressures, the time frames,” Mayock said. “I’ve talked to a lot of people in this building about how they’ve done it in the past. Where’s everybody sitting? What’s up on the boards? I’ve changed some things already with what’s going to be up in the room and some of the information available to us and how we’re going to process that information. I think the important thing, Michael, is at the end of the day is just some of these practices, putting some pressure on ourselves and hoping that if we put enough pressure on ourselves Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday under a bunch of different kind of conversations and trades, that when Thursday night comes and Friday Saturday, we’re more than prepared to deal with anything.”

[RELATED: Haskins reportedly moved up Raiders' draft board, option at No. 4]

Gruden is confident that, when the clock starts and calls come flying in on trades and scenarios – they certainly, with the Raiders owning three first-round picks – Mayock will execute well.

“He is such a great communicator and has so many connections in the league, it helps to get deals done,” Gruden said. “He is not afraid, he's got the guts and he has the knowledge to pull the trigger. That is what I really like.”