84°F
weather icon Clear

Raiders begin building with cleaner, less risky NFL Draft

The grading part should be easy. Boring, maybe, but uncomplicated.

Just write down the same letter for 32 teams.

I = Incomplete.

The idea won’t go over well with those whose obsession it is to evaluate how each NFL franchise performs during the league’s annual draft, assessing which succeeds and fails, which reaches and plays it safe, which improves its roster and doesn’t.

It’s a lot easier than you might believe, given nobody knows anything.

It’s all guesswork, really, surmising how potential might either blossom or fall short, and that goes for those players selected by the Raiders.

Only time will prove if they overreacted by taking defensive Clelin Ferrell at No. 4 overall instead of grabbing a higher-rated prospect and perhaps still getting the Clemson star later in the first round, or if drafting a running back (Josh Jacobs) at No. 24 was also too early, although the season-ending injury to veteran Isaiah Crowell on Wednesday sure makes the pick look even more important now.

But while forecasting how the team’s draft will ultimately be judged on the field remains incredibly subjective, this isn’t: The class had a much different feel this year than last.

Cleaner. Fewer red flags to investigate. Players that other teams hadn’t passed on for medical or off-field issues.

Character also has an impressionistic quality to it. You never really know about a person. You can analyze one’s background and explore a player’s past to painstaking levels and still not be totally sure as to his makeup.

You just don’t know.

But while surface is all the Raiders have to go on for now, theirs is a 2019 class absent of those impediments that defined what then-general manager Reggie McKenzie and coach Jon Gruden did at this time last year.

How much the firing of McKenzie and hiring of Mike Mayock has to do with such a dramatic shift is also debatable. Each draft is its own entity. And yet if anything became clear as the Raiders navigated their way through seven rounds, it was that the initial perception of Mayock’s role was greatly underestimated.

It’s true that Mayock doesn’t have as much juice as Gruden, but it’s not as if his cup is empty, and there were more signs of it last week than just Mayock talking Gruden off the ledge about possibly trading up from No. 24 out of fear someone was about to take Jacobs.

The Raiders stood pat, nobody selected the running back, and he was there, as Mayock predicted.

Not as much risk

“I couldn’t be happier with the way our relationship has developed,” Mayock said after the three-day draft. “(Gruden) is a guy with a strong opinion, and he brought me in to have an equally strong opinion, and I think that’s the important thing people have to understand. I didn’t come here to kind of just try to set a board.

“I came here to work with Jon and try and help him build a football team, a championship football team. … I think we complement each other because when I had a strong opinion, Jon listened. And when Jon has a strong opinion, I listen, and we go at it a little bit which is really good, but at the end of the day I think the important thing is when we make a decision, it’s a Raiders decision.”

Whether it was a first-round pick whose history included a serious leg injury or a third-round pick who was suspended in college and checked himself into rehab for marijuana use or a fourth-round pick with a knee issue or a fifth-round pick whose EKG at the combine showed irregularities or a sixth-round pick with suspensions and DUI charges in his past, the Raiders went heavy on risk in 2018.

They didn’t this time, at least not in the same way.

Ferrell. Jacobs. Hunter Renfrow. Theirs are stories defined by either leadership and hardship, and sometimes both.

Grading a draft is extremely subjective. So too are character assessments. Nobody really knows anything in the moment because time is the only constant that eventually brings clarity to the entire process.

But this was a cleaner draft for the Raiders than last year.

It owned a different, more positive vibe.

As far as Incomplete goes, that’s the best you can hope for until things get real.

Contact columnist Ed Graney at egraney@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4618. He can be heard on “The Press Box,” ESPN Radio 100.9 FM and 1100 AM, from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday. Follow @edgraney on Twitter.

Like and follow Vegas Nation
Raiders Videos
Raiders' Jason Witten ready for veteran role - Video
Longtime Dallas Cowboy turned Las Vegas Raider Jason Witten is looking forward to being a veteran leader with his new team. Vegas Nation's Cassie Soto and Adam Hill discuss Witten's excitement.
Witten talks about finding a new home with the Las Vegas Raiders - VIDEO
After spending 16 seasons with the Dallas Cowboys and having a brief stint as a color commentator on ESPN's Monday Night Football broadcast, tight end Jason Witten discusses his decision to return to the NFL and moving on to join the Las Vegas Raiders in 2020. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raiders' Maxx Crosby placed on COVID-19 reserve list - Video
Raiders defensive end Maxx Crosby has been placed on the team's COVID-19 reserve list. Vegas Nation's Cassie Soto and Vinny Bonsignore give an update on Crosby's status.
Takeaways with Violator and Raider Cody - VIDEO
On the Takeaways edition of the Vegas Nation podcast, host Heidi Fang spoke with fans known as Violator and Raider Cody about Raiders' owner Mark Davis' decision to have games without fans at Allegiant Stadium in 2020 and more. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gruden on offseason improvements to Raiders defense - VIDEO
Raiders head coach Jon Gruden discusses how the players they acquired in the offseason help them improve on defense and some of his expectations for his defensive line. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raiders newcomers up to speed despite chaotic offseason
Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden was pleased by the retention of information the newcomers to the organization have shown so far despite the chaotic offseason brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
Gruden on what the Raiders plan is if a coach gets coronavirus - VIDEO
During a Thursday media availability Raiders head coach Jon Gruden talks about what kind of contingency plans are in place in the event that one of team's coaches catches coronavirus. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gruden on what the Raiders plan is if a coach gets coronavirus - VIDEO
During a Thursday media availability Raiders head coach Jon Gruden talks about what kind of contingency plans are in place in the event that one of team's coaches catches coronavirus. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vegas Nation Blitz ep.14 | NFL Opt Outs
Derek Carr never thought twice about playing this year. Vegas Nation host Cassie Soto is joined by Vinny Bonsignore, Allegiant Stadium insider Mick Akers and Vegas Nation podcast host Heidi Fang and Adam Hill. Around the league players are opting out of the season. Allegiant stadium is ready for some football.
Olson on how Lynn Bowden, Henry Ruggs and other rookies fit in the Raiders offense - VIDEO
Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olson talked about Lynn Bowden, Jr.'s versatility and the weapon that he is on offense and how some of the team's other rookies will fit in their offensive schemes. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Derek Carr 'tired of being disrespected' - Video
When asked if he considered opting out this season, Raiders quarterback Derek Carr said he feels like he has a lot to prove to himself and is "tired of being disrespected." Vegas Nation's Cassie Soto and Ed Graney discuss Carr's comments.
Olson wants Carr to be more "creative", Carr on his third year in Gruden's offense - VIDEO
Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olson said in a news conference on Tuesday that he wants quarterback Derek Carr to be more creative in his third year in the Gruden system. Carr comments on Olson's take and talks about the addition of Marcus Mariota to the team. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raiders QB Derek Carr explains why opting out wasn't an option for him - VIDEO
Raiders quarterback Derek Carr explains why opting out of the 2020 NFL season wasn't even a thought that crossed his mind during a news conference on Tuesday. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raiders games will be without fans in 2020 - VIDEO
Vegas Nation's Cassie Soto and Vinny Bonsignore discuss why there won't be fans at Allegiant Stadium in 2020 and what the next course of action may be for Raiders fans. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raiders to play without fans at Allegiant Stadium in 2020
The Raiders’ first season in Las Vegas will be played at an empty Allegiant Stadium. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Walk around Allegiant Stadium - VIDEO
You can now walk around outside of Allegiant Stadium now that the construction fences have been taken down. (Angus Kelly, Kevin Cannon and Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vegas Nation Takeaways with Heidi Fang: JT The Brick
Radio personality and Raiders host JT The Brick joins Heidi Fang to discuss the Raiders biggest position battles as the team starts training camp, who on the team he's expecting to have a big season and what the Raiders need to do to be a playoff team in 2020. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gruden says he wants to beat coronavirus "into the ground" - VIDEO
As Raiders Training Camp got underway amid the coronavirus pandemic, head coach Jon Gruden talked about how the virus has affected people he knows, the NFL, the Raiders and commented on those opting out of the season because of it. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raiders release video of Henderson headquarters
On Thursday the Raiders released a video showcasing the interior of their new Henderson headquarters.
Allegiant Stadium hits substantial completion milestone
Nine-hundred-and-ninety-three days after the groundbreaking ceremony on Nov. 13 2017 on what was then a 62-acre lot of dirt, the $2 billion Allegiant Stadium, home of the Raiders, now holds its own in the Las Vegas skyline.
Raiders Gruden, Ruggs update from training camp - Video
Raiders head coach Jon Gruden says he has not heard from any of his players on their choice to opt out from playing this season. Meanwhile, rookie wide receiver Henry Ruggs says he feels 100 percent himself after suffering from a freak injury back in early June.
Gruden, Ruggs on expectations for the Raiders in 2020 - VIDEO
Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden on what improvements can be made to give the team a winning record and wide receiver Henry Ruggs talks about how he can contribute to the team in 2020. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
How Rookies Adjust to NFL is Different in a Coronavirus World - VIDEO
Raiders head coach Jon Gruden and their number one pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, wide receiver Henry Ruggs, address how the coronavirus pandemic has affected rookies attempting to transition to the NFL. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vegas Nation Blitz ep.13 | Training Camp
This week's guests are Ed Graney and Tanner Muse. Vegas Nation host Cassie Soto is joined by Vinny Bonsignore, Allegiant Stadium insider Mick Akers and Vegas Nation podcast host Heidi Fang and Adam Hill. Learn the procedures of this novel NFL training camp in 2020.
Raiders LB Tanner Muse ready for training camp - Video
Las Vegas Raiders rookie linebacker Tanner Muse recently signed a four-year contract with the team and is ready to finally get some hands-on work.
Vegas Nation Blitz ep.12| Al Davis
This week's guest is Jon Kingdon, sharing his stories of former Raiders owner Al Davis. Vegas Nation host Cassie Soto is joined by Vinny Bonsignore, Allegiant Stadium insider Mick Akers and Vegas Nation podcast host Heidi Fang and Adam Hill.
Raiders likely to play in an empty Allegiant Stadium
On Sunday, Raiders owner Mark Davis said the team is likely to play without fans in its first season in Las Vegas
Scott Bair Talks Sports Uncovered on NBC Sports - Video
Vegas Nation Blitz host Cassie Soto interviews Scott Bair about the Sports Uncovered documentary series on NBC sports.
Allegiant Stadium is on time, on budget - Video
With two weeks until the anticipated July 31 substantial completion date for Allegiant Stadium, crews are on task and on budget with the $2 billion project.
Vegas Nation Blitz ep.11| Postgame Distancing
This week's guest is Scott Bair from NBC sports Bay Area talking about their latest podcast chronicling the story of former Raiders center Barret Robbins who went missing for Super Bowl XXXVII . Vegas Nation host Cassie Soto is joined by sports columnist Ed Graney, Allegiant Stadium insider Mick Akers and Vegas Nation podcast host Heidi Fang and Adam Hill.
Vegas Nation Blitz ep.10 | Half Billion Dollar Man
This week's guest is former Los Angeles Raiders linebacker Jerry Robinson. Vegas Nation host Cassie Soto is joined by Raiders reporters Vinny Bonsignore and Ed Graney, Allegiant Stadium insider Mick Akers and Vegas Nation podcast host Heidi Fang. What does Patrick Mahomes' megacontract mean for the Raiders? Where will Colin Kaepernick play this season? Jerry Robinson reflects on his time wearing silver and black.
Momofuku veteran chef leaving to cook for Raiders - VIDEO
Chef Michael Rubinstein is leaving the restaurant at The Cosmopolitan after 3½ years to take over as assistant executive chef at the Raiders’ practice facility.
Allegiant Stadium Performs Blackout Test - Video
Allegiant stadium performs a blackout test to ensure the safety of fans when the venue opens.
NFL expected to shorten preseason to two games - VIDEO
Vegas Nation's Heidi Fang and Vinny Bonsignore discuss what changes to expect if the NFL shortens the preseason to two games and what that means for the Las Vegas Raiders. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raiders’ Mark Davis unhappy with decision to sell ads on seats - Video
It was floated that the NFL Players Association was requesting the first eight rows of stadiums — and possibly the entire first deck — be tarped over to protect the players, which might have prompted an immediate vote by owners. After a heated discussion in which Raiders owner Mark Davis forcefully expressed his misgivings, the measure passed 31-1 requiring teams to tarp off the first eight rows but have the ability to sell advertising on them.
Crews test Allegiant Stadium video boards - Video
On Wednesday, the infamous Raiders shield logo was scrolled across portions of the video ribbons inside the Allegiant Stadium.
Raiders complete "Super Flush" - Video
Allegiant Stadium workers gave the 65,000-seat stadium’s restrooms a game day-like test by flushing all toilets and urinals at nearly the same time. This is known as a "super flush."
2021 Pro Bowl is coming to Las Vegas
The Pro Bowl is coming to Las Vegas. The NFL announced on Tuesday that Las Vegas will host the 2021 Pro Bowl at Allegiant Stadium.
Raiders get into action at local park - Video
Team members of the Las Vegas Raiders gathered to practice and run a few plays under the Las Vegas sun at a local park.
Allegiant Stadium lanai doors open revealing Al Davis Memorial Torch
On Wednesday Allegiant Stadium opened its massive lanai doors revealing the 85-foot-tall Al Davis Memorial Torch and a peek inside the $2 billion, 65,000 fan capacity indoor stadium.
Natural turf added to Allegiant Stadium field tray
The massive field tray, which will roll in and out of the stadium, has a fresh layer of natural grass turf for Raiders home games.
THE LATEST