Jon Gruden sizes up Raiders’ youth, vets Crabtree and Lynch

Updated February 28, 2018 - 9:59 am

INDIANAPOLIS — Jon Gruden must have scowled upon first studying it.

Defensive end Mario Edwards Jr., a 2015 second-round pick. Defensive end Jihad Ward, a 2016 second-round pick. Defensive end Shilique Calhoun, a 2016 third. Cornerback Gareon Conley, last year’s first-round choice. Safety Obi Melifonwu, last year’s second.

Those, and others, are among the high selections in recent Raiders draft classes.

High selections. Low production.

Be it due to injury, inability or bit of both, the Raiders have not found impact from their past three drafts. Gruden was adamant the trend must reverse when addressing reporters Wednesday at the NFL Scouting Combine. He also discussed a couple of key veterans on the team: Gruden’s high on running back Marshawn Lynch and fairly non-commital about wide receiver Michael Crabtree’s future.

General manager Reggie McKenzie, scheduled to meet with reporters later on Wednesday, is expected to address both players’ situations in greater detail.

“We’ve got work to do,” Gruden said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do. We need some talent to rise within this organization, I’ll say that. In our last three drafts, I’m looking at it. Other than Amari Cooper (2015 first-round choice), we need some of these young players to really explode onto the scene. It starts there. We need some young people in the organization right now to emerge.

“A lot of them have been injured. Jihad Ward, I don’t know what happened to him. Obi Melifonwu, Gareon Conley — we need these guys to play, big time. I’m going to start with that. We do have some free agents out there. We have some needs that are obvious. You don’t need to be a football genius. We’ve got a lot of work to do.

Gruden identified interior pass rush, linebacker and secondary among the Raiders’ most pressing needs.

Wide receiver is one, too, particularly if the team parts with Crabtree.

In December, several sources indicated he fell out of favor with the 2017 coaching staff, his attitude around the team amid a difficult 6-10 season was characterized as problematic. The club was prepared to part ways this offseason. Internal attitude toward Crabtree led to him playing 46 of the Raiders’ 121 offensive snaps in their final two games.

With Gruden’s hiring in January, the coaching staff was overhauled.

The Athletic reported Tuesday evening that Crabtree will play for the Raiders this season. Crabtree, 31 in September, is due a non-guaranteed $7 million base salary with another $1.05 million in potential bonuses.

“He’s on the team,” Gruden said, referring to Crabtree’s present-day status. “I would love to coach all these guys. That’s a big reason I was excited to get here. We’ll let you know. We’ll keep you updated as we get more information. I’m going to get a chance to meet with (his) agent. On April 9, I’m allowed to officially start talking with these guys. Reggie McKenzie has a press conference later today. … I’m sure he can update you on a lot of the contractual matters.”

Crabtree and Lynch are represented by the same agent, Doug Hendrickson.

Gruden praised Lynch after he logged 84 carries for 434 yards (5.2 average) with two touchdowns over the season’s final five games. Lynch, who turns 32 in April, is due a $4 million base salary with up to $4 million in available bonuses in 2018. Gruden worked as an ESPN “Monday Night Football” broadcaster on Dec. 25 when Lynch totaled 95 yards on 25 carries against the Philadelphia Eagles.

“He’s still a beast that’s hard to bring down,” Gruden said. “One of the reasons I’m excited to be with the Raiders is to join forces with Lynch. But we’ll see what happens. Obviously, we’ve got to look at the entire roster. But I’m counting on him. I’m counting on him to be a big part of our football team.”

More Raiders: Follow all of our Raiders coverage online at and @NFLinVegas on Twitter.

Contact reporter Michael Gehlken at Follow @GehlkenNFL on Twitter.

Raiders Videos
Vegas Nation Mailbag
Vegas Nation host Bryan Salmond and Review-Journal sports writer Gilbert Manzano go over the hot takes from Raiders fans.
Vegas Nation: Bryant and Roberts return to practice
Raiders beat writer Micheal Gehlken goes over how Martavis Bryant and Seth Roberts return to practice and how Jon Gruden is training quarterback Connor Cook.
Gruden Looks Towards End of Training Camp, LA Rams Game
Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden talks about the team's final full day of training camp as well as the team's upcoming preseason game against the Los Angeles Rams.
Vegas Nation: Donald Penn Returns
Bryan Salmond is in studio and Michael Gehlken reports on Donald Penn's return to practice from Napa, CA on August 14, 2018.
Donald Penn Returns to Practice
Oakland Raiders tackle Donald Penn returns to practice for the first time in nearly eight months after an Lisfranc fracture in Dec. The veteran tackle speaks to the media what it's like being back and potentially moving to right tackle.
Vegas Nation: Conley Returns, Bryant Absent
Vegas Nation host Bryan Salmond and Raiders beat writer Michael Gehlken go over the Gareon Conley returning to practice.
Vegas Nation Stadium Show: Stadium And Practice Facility Update
Vegas Nation Stadium Host Bill Bradley, Rick Velotta and Eli Segall go over the progress on the Raiders stadium and practice facility in Las Vegas.
Vegas Nation: Preseason Preview
Vegas Nation host Bryan Salmond and Raiders beat writer Michael Gehlken go over what to expect from the Raiders first preseason game.
Vegas Nation: Day 2 of Joint Practice
Michael Gehlken and Gilbert Manzano report from Napa, CA on the second day of joint practice between the Oakland Raiders and the Detroit Lions.
Sports Betting Spotlight: Oakland Raiders
Todd Dewey, Johnny Avello and Kelly Stewart go over the odds for the Oakland Raiders upcoming season.
Gruden Wraps Up Final Joint Practice with Lions
Raiders head coach Jon Gruden talks to the media about practicing with the Detroit Lions, how Martavis Bryant is doing in camp, and an update on Donald Penn.
Vegas Nation: Training Camp Joint Practice
Michael Gehlken and Gilbert Manzano cover day one of the two day joint session between the Oakland Raiders and Detroit Lions.
Raiders Host First Joint Practice with Lions
Raiders quarterback Derek Carr and defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. talk about what it was like practicing with the Detroit Lions on Tuesday.
Vegas Nation: Raiders preparing for joint practice with Lions
Raiders beat writer Michael Gehlken provides an update on Obi Melifonwu performance in practice as well as the Raiders preparation for the joint practice with the Detroit Lions starting Tuesday.
Vegas Nation: Day 7 Of Training Camp
Vegas Nation host Bryan Salmond and Raiders beat writer Michael Gehlken go over the seventh day of Raiders training camp.
Vegas Nation: Peyton Manning Visits Raiders
Vegas Nation host Bryan Salmond and Raiders beat writer Michael Gehlken goes over Raiders practice and Peyton Manning visiting the teams camp.
Raiders React to Fifth Day of Training Camp
Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden, safety Reggie Nelson and center Rodney Hudson respond to questions from the media on the team's fifth day of training camp.
Vegas Nation: Oakland Raiders training camp Day 3
Raiders beat writer Michael Gehlken and sports columnist Ed Graney go over the team's third day of training camp, discuss what Gareon Conley's injury, review the team's first day in pads and what the Raiders will look to do at running back.
Former Raiders' linebacker Villapiano discuss Raiders' move
Former Raiders linebacker Phil Villapiano speaks with Review-Journal sports columnist Ed Graney about the team's impending move to Las Vegas.
Vegas Nation: Oakland Raiders training camp Day 2
Raiders beat writer Michael Gehlken and sports columnist Ed Graney go over the team's second day of training camp, discuss Gareon Conley missing sessions and what it'll be like when the team starts practicing with pads on Sunday.
Raiders Look Forward to First Practice with Pads on Sunday
Greg Olson, Kelechi Osemele and Doug Martin react to team's first practice with pads on Sunday
Vegas Nation: Olson believes Carr, QBs have developed "thick skin" under Gruden
Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olson explains how the Raiders quarterbacks have responded to Jon Gruden's tough coaching style.
Vegas Nation: Olson pleased with progress of rookie linemen Miller, Parker
Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olson describes what he has seen out of rookie offensive linemen Kolton Miller and Brandon Parker so far.
Raiders React To First Day Of Training Camp
Jon Gruden, Derek Carr and Kolton Miller react to the first day of training camp.
Vegas Nation: Martin calls Raiders O-Line "the best" he's ran behind
Raiders running back Doug Martin speaks no how different it is running behind his new offensive line in Oakland
Vegas Nation: Raiders Training Camp Day 1
Vegas Nation host Bryan Salmond, Raiders beat writer Michael Gehlken and sports columnist Ed Graney go over the Raiders first day of training camp.
Vegas Nation: Miller on Penn, Jackson helping him out
Raiders rookie tackle Kolton Miller talks about the veterans he has leaned on during the offseason
Vegas Nation: Miller happy about weight gain
Raiders offensive tackle Kolton Miller talks about his weight gain prior to training camp.
Vegas Nation: Carr says Kolton Miller is "ready"
Raiders quarterback Derek Carr shares his thoughts on Kolton Miller—compliments the rookie's physical progression during offseason.
Vegas Nation: Carr "confident" in executing Gruden's offense
Raiders quarterback Derek Carr details what it's like learning Jon Gruden's offense.
Raiders BBQ
On Friday, July 20, Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden hosted — and paid for — a free barbecue for Raiders fans. Gruden teamed up with the Raiders and Ricky's Sports Theater and Grill in San Leandro, Calif. as a way to show thanks and gratitude for the support of the Raider Nation. Over 500 Raiders fans showed up to the event that had music, raffles, and appearances from Raiders alumni. This was the final event before the Raiders begin their training camp next week in Napa. Chris Booker Las Vegas Review-Journal
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like