The first year under the Jon Gruden era was plagued by injuries and quarterback controversy. During their last year in Oakland, the Raiders showed a promising future with stars such as Josh Jacobs, Maxx Crosby, and Trayvon Mullen. Although the expectations weren’t too high, they managed to finish with a 7-9 record, which disappointed many fans and coaches.
On December 31st, 2018, Mike Mayock was introduced to be the new general manager of the Oakland Raiders. In his first draft as the new GM, Mayock drafted Clemson heavy, selecting fierce pass rusher Clelin Ferrell with the fourth pick, lockdown cornerback Trayvon Mullen in the second round, and slot machine Hunter Renfrow in the fifth round.
Mayock and Jon Gruden needed a change of culture in Oakland to be a hardnose, bruising team. With that, they selected Josh Jacobs and hard-hitting safety Johnathan Abram, who changed the culture and brought leadership immediately.
Over the offseason, the Raiders instantly became an intriguing free agent option, pulling in the top market names Wide receiver Tyrell Williams and offensive tackle Trent Brown signed massive contracts with then-Oakland and instantly became fan favorites. Tight end Darren Waller was also signed to be the redzone threat Carr needed.
Mayock signed 14 total free agents, and brought in many veterans and great locker room guys. He traded big pieces such as Kelechi Osemele and Gareon Conley to obtain draft assets. A big year was expected for Derek Carr after Gruden gave him the keys to the offense. Carr’s production level was down after a year of only 21 touchdowns and eight interceptions while throwing for 4,000 yards.
While Gruden was calling the plays, he took the keys out of Carr’s hands and gave them to Josh Jacobs, who finished with 1,150 yards and seven touchdowns. While finishing second place in the AFC West, they only managed to lose three games by a total of nine points which shows how competitive the team was. Although Oakland was plagued by the injuries to Abram, Karl Joseph, Trent Brown, and Dwayne Harris, they proved to the league they could stick with anybody.
Going into the 2020 offseason, Mark Davis decided the Oakland Raiders were going to move to a new city: Las Vegas. Entering a new city and a new stadium brings high expectations for the city of Vegas. Only a few days into the legal tampering period, the Las Vegas Raiders have already attracted many free agents. They came to agreement with Cory Littleton, one of the most underrated players in the NFL, as well as Carl Nassib and Nick Kwiatkowski, who look to make the Vegas defense elite.
Mayock and Gruden’s most shocking move was when they decided to bring in quarterback competition with former Heisman winner Marcus Mariota, who will look to have a real chance to start in the black and silver. Mariota is looking to prove something, after he was benched in Tennessee last year.
Only one other offensive move has happened in free agency for the Raiders when they decided to bring in long time veteran tight end Jason Witten, who fits Gruden’s mold perfectly. With plenty of money still to spend, don’t expect the front office to be done making moves. I suspect a game-changing move to be made in Oakland, one that will boost their playoff hopes.
Looking forward to the 2020 NFL Draft, the Las Vegas Raiders hold seven total picks with two being in the first round and three in the third round. Names like Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs lll, and even Justin Herbert have been linked to Vegas. The front office will look to boost LV’s receiving corps as well as developing the secondary.
What’s happening in Vegas right now, could become scary in a couple of years. In a tough AFC with expanded playoffs, Derek Carr and company will look to lead the Raiders to the playoffs for the first time since 2016. The time is now for this franchise to go from mediocre to elite.