2019 NFL Draft

How Raiders' 2019 draft class is laying bedrock for sustained success

How Raiders' 2019 draft class is laying bedrock for sustained success

The Raiders assembled quite a collection of talent during last year’s NFL draft. Everyone knows that by now.

First-round safety Johnathan Abram, however, doesn’t want you to forget about those who came directly after.

“Don’t forget Alec Ingold. He’s the man,” Abram said on the Raiders Talk Podcast. “And don’t sleep on A.J. Cole, either. That guy can punt. He’s the real deal.”

Abram’s right. The Raiders even got significant contributions from undrafted players in 2019. Ingold’s the long-term solution at fullback, and Cole’s a specialist off to a good start.

The 2019 rookie class was highlighted by rookie of the year candidates in feature running back Josh Jacobs and 10-sack sensation/defensive end Maxx Crosby. Both guys were runners-up for the offensive and defensive awards, making the Raiders one of two teams in the last 15 years with top-two finishes in both, per the Associated Press' Josh Dubow.

This group showed great depth. Cornerback Trayvon Mullen excelled after assuming a starter’s role following the Gareon Conley trade. Hunter Renfrow proved a quality slot receiver all season but found great form and chemistry with quarterback Derek Carr at its end.

Tight end Foster Moreau was a significant contributor as a run blocker and red-zone receiving target.

The Raiders' rookie class was awesome, despite No. 4 overall pick Clelin Ferrell not quite living up to his draft slot in where he moved around the defensive line and got really sick before midseason. Abram was a non-factor in 2019 after missing 15 games with a shoulder injury.

Members of this Raiders rookie class believe they’re the bedrock of the Raiders rebuild, and 2019 ended with the arrow pointing up. They understand that fact, even if it goes unspoken.

“We talk about it here and there, but it’s more of something we just know,” Crosby said. “We know what we’re here for and how good we can be. Me and John and Josh and Cle and everybody else, we’re all close. For us, we know what Gruden brought us here to do. We’re grinding away and preparing to get in the playoffs and go win some games and eventually win a Super Bowl.”

[RELATED: Raiders safety Abram learned 'valuable lessons' after injury]

The Raiders draft class is recognized among last year’s best, if not right at the top. The group was first in sacks and total yards from scrimmage. They were first in receptions and rushing yards.

It has growth potential, with high ceilings and improvement all around. Ferrell vowed to return a completely different player. Abram will be back and healthy in 2020.

And while offseason rankings don’t mean much, Moreau took umbrage with an NFL Media list placing the Raiders rookie class at No. 7 in the league.

That could fuel fire down the line as the Raiders try to build a roster capable of sustained success. The group had high hopes, with expectations even higher with a season’s experience in hand. It doesn’t just fall on the higher picks. The entire group sees good days ahead.

“That was the best part of it,” Abram said. “No matter what round we came in, we put all that behind us the day we showed up at the facility. We were all hand-selected and brought here for a purpose. We just have to get the job done.”

Cardinals QB Kyler Murray calls Nick Bosa 'a freak' before 49ers game

Cardinals QB Kyler Murray calls Nick Bosa 'a freak' before 49ers game

For the first time in their young NFL careers, the Nos. 1 and 2 overall picks from the 2019 draft will square up against each other when the 49ers travel to Arizona to face the Cardinals on Thursday night. 

When Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray -- the top pick in the draft -- scans the field Thursday, he will have his eyes on 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa, who was selected one spot behind him. The former Heisman Trophy winner certainly took notice of Bosa's ridiculous interception off Panthers QB Kyle Allen on Sunday. 

"He's a freak," Murray said to Cardinals reporters on Monday. "He's a good player, for sure. I'll have to keep my head on a swivel for sure on Thursday." 

Murray could be in for a long day against the 49ers' daunting defensive line. He has been sacked 26 times this season, which ranks third-most in the NFL. The 49ers as a team rank fourth in the league with 27 sacks. 

To no surprise, however, the electrifying QB has plenty of trust in his team. 

"They're obviously a great defense," Murray said. "But again, we feel like if we execute, we'll be fine." 

Through his first eight games as a pro, Murray has 1,988 passing yards, seven touchdowns and four interceptions while completing 63.7 percent of his passes. He also has rushed for 279 yards and scored another two touchdowns on the ground. 

[RELATED: Bosa on pace to snap NFL single-season rookie sacks record]

On the other side of the ball, Bosa is tied for fourth in the entire league with seven sacks in seven games. He leads the NFL with 11 tackles for loss and has 13 QB hits. 

The debate is far from over as far as whether Murray or Bosa should have been the first pick in the draft. For now, fans can sit back and enjoy the show. Thursday night should be a treat.

Derek Carr praises Jon Gruden, Mike Mayock for Raiders' rookie class

Derek Carr praises Jon Gruden, Mike Mayock for Raiders' rookie class

One week after the Raiders announced Mike Mayock as their general manager, the former longtime NFL draft analyst found his first assignment: The College Football Playoff National Championship. 

Clearly, he liked what he saw at Levi's Stadium. The Raiders selected four players -- defensive end Clelin Ferrell, running back Josh Jacobs, cornerback Trayvon Mullen and receiver Hunter Renfrow -- from the national championship. These players came from winning college programs in Clemson and Alabama, and it showing on and off the field.

Quarterback Derek Carr has taken notice to the maturity of the Raiders' rookie class, giving a round of applause to Mayock and coach Jon Gruden.

"They already understand what it means to be a top-level pro, and their effort and determination is there. The only thing that's gonna stop them is circumstance. These guys are completely understanding of what it means to be a professional at this league, and you have to give a lot of credit to Mr. Mayock and coach Gruden," Carr said on the Raider Cody Podcast.

"They sought these guys out. They interviewed them. They obviously went through that rigorous process with the draft and things like that." 

Mayock and Gruden's draft picks are panning out so far for the 3-2 Raiders.

Jacobs looks like a future star and already has 430 rushing yards and four touchdowns on the ground. He also has added another 77 yards receiving. Renfrow ranks third on the team in receptions (12) and receiving yards (101). Ferrell missed last game with a concussion. He has 10 tackles, one sack and three tackles for a loss. 

Even late-round draft picks like defensive end Maxx Crosby and tight end Foster Moreau look like contributors for years to come. 

[RELATED: Raiders mailbag: Crosby is high among standout rookies]

Carr and the Raiders are enjoying their bye week after a big Week 5 win over the Bears in London. The QB is staying in shape, though, and had tight end Derek Carrier over for a home workout this week. One of the first subjects they brought up was the team's rookies. 

"They're all professionals. You don't look at these guys as rookies, they're just pros," Carr said. "They get it. They're able to contribute, they know their weaknesses, they know their flaws, they're OK admitting their flaws." 

Through the early portion of the season, the Raiders have surprised many with a winning record after an offseason full of drama and headaches. And their rookies are a big reason why.