Ten things to know about Raiders’ 2021 draft class

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Ten things to know about the Raiders’ 2021 draft class as selected by coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock:

Myth of the `best available player’ takes a hit

How about “best available player at a position of need” instead.

You’d have to live on another planet not to know the Raiders needed to come out of the draft with a starting right tackle and a starting free safety.

Here comes Alex Leatherwood in the first round and Trevon Moherig in the second.

The Raiders had to upgrade a defense that gave up a staggering 473 points and supply new coordinator Gus Bradley with some speed and explosive athletes.

So they took edge rusher Malcolm Koonce in the third round, weak side linebacker Divine Deablo in the fourth on Friday, then on Saturday selected safety Tyree Gillespie and cornerback Nate Hobbs.

The two who weren’t defensive players, Leatherwood and Pitt center Jimmy Morrissey (seventh round) joined a unit that was depleted after the trades of Rodney Hudson, Gabe Jackson and Trent Brown.

The Raiders didn’t need any skill position players (quarterback, running back, wide receiver, tight end) so they didn’t take any. That’s never happened in the history of the franchise.

Experience mattered

Each of the Raiders seven draft picks played between 39 and 51 games, totaling 306 games with 226 starts.

It began with Leatherwood (48 games, 41 starts) and ended with Pitt enter Jimmy Morrissey, who started all 47 games in his college career.

In a pre-draft conference call, Mayock said players who opted out of the 2020 season with pandemic concerns would be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

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In every case through the first six picks, the Raiders went with players who played in 2020. Not an opt-out in the bunch.

Mayock cited the uncertainty of the off-season and training camp and said he and Gruden determined the best plan of attack was to gain as much information as possible through game tape. Players with experience have a lot of tape.

“All that tape, all that history, the ability to talk to coaches that were there and see guys who played 30, 40, 50 games meant a lot this year to us,” Mayock said.

Loving some Leatherwood

The Raiders were considered the lone ranger in their assessment of Leatherwood, given the social media firestorm created by taking their new right tackle  at No. 17 overall.

The Raiders were mocked often with the likes of Christian Darrisaw, Alijah Vera-Tucker and Teven Jenkins and were considered too far down in the draft order to have any shot at Penei Sewell or Rashawn Slater.

Mayock said flatly that Leatherwood was the highest ranked tackle on their board at No. 17, which seems like a legitimate claim given that they bypassed Darrisaw (No. 23 to Minnesota) and Jenkins (No. 39 to Chicago).

It goes farther. Mayock didn’t say it, but my understanding is that the Raiders believed Leatherwood was the best tackle on the board — including Sewell (No. 8 to Detroit), Slater (No. 13 to the Chargers) and Vera-Tucker (No. 14 to the Jets as a guard).

Not coincidentally, Sewell, …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Sports

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