Recap Of Raiders First-Round Picks Clelin Ferrell, Josh Jacobs And Johnathan Abram
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It’s impossible to pretend like the night didn’t start as a hopeful one. The Oakland Raiders were bad last season — like really bad, and yet April 25th felt like it might be the night that the page would turn and optimism would reign.

And then, well, it didn’t. 

With three picks in the first round, the Raiders surprisingly used all three exactly as they stood — and here’s what they walked away with…

Round 1, Pick 4: Clelin Ferrell, DE (Clemson)

When you’re really bad, the NFL rewards you with an elite draft pick. Apparently, in Oakland, head coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock were a bit confused about that. Gruden probably views his team as one of the best in the league, and so apparently he thought it was only fair that he wouldn’t use his elite pick on an elite player. (Either that or they know something everyone else doesn’t.)

Almost everywhere you look, the projections aren’t favorable for Ferrell. Mel Kiper (ESPN) had him 25th on his big board, Matt Miller (Bleacher Report) had him 23rd and Dane Brugler (The Athletic) had him 21st. And yes, you read that correctly: the Raiders drafted him fourth. So what gives?

If you want the positive spin, here goes: The Ringer’s Danny Kelly had him ranked No. 6, so that’s encouraging. Maybe more importantly: he plays the right position. If the Raiders had one glaring need, it was at defensive end — and so while you don’t love throwing away the rankings, at least they reached for a guy they desperately needed. In fact, the first line of Kelly’s “Why he could rise” section is probably the best reason for optimism: “Ferrell is a game-ready 4-3 end who comes with a high floor as an NFL edge rusher”.

At the very least, the Raiders picked an NFL ready, safe player. And, well, that’s worth something, right?


Round 1, Pick 24: Josh Jacobs, RB (Alabama)

While no one had a clue about the Raiders first pick, it seemed EVERYONE knew what was coming at pick No. 24. With Jacobs, the Raiders get their running back of the future and further solidify what should be the league’s most improved offense.

Perfectly suited for today’s game — capable of running, catching, and blocking — Jacobs also comes with limited wear and tear from his college days at Alabama. And let’s not forget: we haven’t even gotten to his story.

He was homeless and sleeping in his dad’s car as an elementary school kid. He had no scholarship offers as a junior in high school. The kid was committed to Wyoming two weeks before signing day — and then Alabama came calling. A few years later, after beating out all of the five-star recruits ahead of him on the depth chart, it was Jacobs who became the first — and only — running back taken in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft.


Round 1, Pick 27: Jonathan Abram, S (Mississippi State)

All I could think to myself was this: “Please no Drew Lock, please no Drew Lock, please no Drew Lock…” And, well, they didn’t pick Drew Lock! Better yet: he plays defense!

In all honesty, this was another solid pick for the Raiders. In most peoples’ minds, Abram was a first-round quality player — and he comes at a position of some need for the Raiders. If you’re Karl Joseph, you’d disagree with that sentiment, and yet it was clear from early on that Gruden wasn’t in love with Joseph.

Abram is described as a hard-hitter and a physical player everywhere you look, and so you can picture him lined up next to Lamarcus Joyner come this fall as a nice looking pair of safeties. Given what was left on the board I’m a bit surprised the Raiders didn’t grab a corner here, but with a number of the best corners still on the board as the night ended, maybe they’re thinking they’ll grab one at the top of the second round at pick No. 35.



At the end of the day, there are some positives to go along with all the questions. Aside from Ferrell, the picks were pretty close to expected, which, after what happened at No. 4 seems like a massive victory. But taking Ferrell at No. 4 (without trading down, over Ed Oliver, etc.) will be the talking point all weekend in Oakland.

On the flip side, I’m thrilled they added two defensive players with the three picks. The Raiders need to get better on defense, and they definitely did on Thursday night.