The NFL’s 2019 draft class appears to be a relatively uninspiring bunch, but the Oakland Raiders seem not to have gotten that memo. The team took some swings in the draft, and they appear to be home runs. From the first round to the fifth one, the Raiders have found a set of players who have not just proven to be good enough to play; they are good enough to be a major part of the team’s future going forward.
The Raiders take Clelin Ferrell in the first round
The Raiders went for defense when they drafted Ferrell in the first round of the draft, and so far he has not disappointed. With 3.5 sacks, 27 combined tackles including 15 solo, and five quarterback hits, the rookie has shown that he can be a defensive force for many years to come. Ferrell has shown an ability to track the ball and keep it where it needs to be.
Ferrell also proved to be the first pick in an interesting trend the Raiders showed by drafting Clemson players in the draft, and he’s not the only one who is contributing.
Josh Jacobs is a breakout star for the Raiders
While the Raiders looked for defense with their first pick of the draft, their second first-round pick, Josh Jacobs, filled a dire need for help at the running back position. Immediately put in as a starter, Jacobs is likely to eclipse 1,000 rushing yards within the next couple of games. He has run the ball in for seven touchdowns and helped Carr and company keep defenses at bay with his speed and football IQ. He is even getting attention as a possible offensive Rookie of the Year.
Clemson again with Trayvon Mullen
Completing the trifecta of Clemson players, second-round pick Trayvon Mullen has kept offenses on their toes throughout the season, with a particularly good stretch from weeks nine through 11. While his playing time is sparse, Mullen might be a mainstay of the Raiders defense for years to come.
Another Clemson addition with Hunter Renfrow
Renfrow waited until the fifth round to have his name called, and he did not disappoint when he did. Although he has spent the majority of his season coming off the bench, Renfrow has shown well in the minutes he has played. Like Ferrell, Renfrow came out of the Champion Clemson football club. Unfortunately, Renfrow’s season might be over after breaking a rib and puncturing a lung.
Maxx Crosby could be the star of the Raiders’ draft
Like Mullen and Ferrell, Crosby has found himself as an important part of the Raiders’ defensive unit. With five starts in his first 11 games, Crosby has recorded 7.5 sacks, 23 solo tackles, and 32 combined tackles with 12 quarterback hits for good measure.
Foster Moreau adds depth on offense
Another late-round find by the Raiders, Foster Moreau has become a huge part of the Raiders’ offense as a tight end, starting seven of his first 11 games for the team. He isn’t a top option, but with 17 receptions and 145 yards for four touchdowns, he is showing inklings of being a very good tight end for the league who can capitalize on nearly every possession that finds him with the ball.
Did the Raiders have the best draft in 2019?
Aside from Josh Jacobs, none of these rookies is likely to be in the running for rookie of the year. Still, for a team who was looking to add depth around Carr and on the defensive side of the field, the Raiders were able to get more rotation players than the average team can hope for, and nearly all of them are performing at an impressive level.
Gruden spoke to the media about his young players, crediting them for accepting the challenge of playing for himand the Raiders.
“The game plans are very long and extensive. We’re not limiting anything,” Gruden said (per the San Francisco Chronicle). “I think that’s the key for their development. . . . You’ve got to keep challenging these guys, giving them more and more things to learn and do and experience. And, man, have they responded.”
The young players on the Raiders deserve props for what they’ve done, and games like a recent win against Cincinnati have let almost all of them show up and succeed. IF the rookie campaigns of these teams are any implication of the future, things might be even brighter when the team debuts in Las Vegas next year.