A weekly roundup of the latest news and happenings involving the Oakland Raiders — pre-draft edition.
It’s a mere two weeks until draft time. That means mock drafts aplenty, and here at Only1Nation we’ve been providing an array of coverage. Editor Nick Hjeltness’ annual prediction of Reggie McKenzie’s draft board is out now, and it’s very thorough. It has basically every draft prospect – over a thousand of them – broken down by the measurable thresholds under which McKenzie drafts. This leads to predictors of who the Oakland Raiders may take in 2018. Very impressive stuff, with a proven track record of predicting McKenzie’s tastes in the past.
While mock drafts are dominating the headlines and free agency has slowed down, there are other things happening in Oakland. Raiders offseason workouts started on April 9. Little news has come out of the workout sessions, save…
Khalil Mack’s Absence
Parts of Raider Nation and a lot of Raiders Twitter had a coronary when Mack didn’t show up for voluntary workouts on April 9 — and stayed away the rest of the week. Things got borderline ridiculous, really:
— Raiders Snake Pit (@RaidersSnakePit) April 15, 2018
Khalil Mack seeking more than $65 million in guarantees – https://t.co/L0AVnTfc1W https://t.co/TpjboCA5Hp
Man I love Mack, but that will put the team in the dark ages. Carr should restructure his deal as well. Oakland should look for trade partners.
— Joseph Oxenford (@JosephOxenford1) April 11, 2018
Fortunately, there were voices of reason:
Yesterday it was a fan comparing Marquette King to Khalil Mack, today it's a website that normally produces quality content running a piece on why the #Raiders should listen to trade offers for Mack.
Offseason stupidity is at an all time high. pic.twitter.com/04IiPScJBf
— James (@RaidersReporter) April 10, 2018
I can't believe some fans are willing to trade Mack. That's insane. Great player. Has been a model person (no off field issues), wants to be a Raider. He also plays a Premium position. People are just dumb sometimes. #RaiderNation
— Eric (@oakland627) April 9, 2018
Some were more vehement, and honestly this one pretty much summed up my own feelings on the matter:
“We should trade Khalil Mack” pic.twitter.com/L62y8eHGJq
— A A R O N (@RunADZ_) April 10, 2018
I’m a little biased as he is my favorite player, but still. He’s transcendent.
Mack is heading into his fifth-year option, which will pay him $13.8M. A nice chunk for sure but not, by NFL standards, what he’s ultimately worth. He’s looking for upwards of $65M in guaranteed money and a contract likely in the $20M/season range:
Per @Wyche89, Khalil Mack is expecting to receive $65 million guaranteed in his new contract 😳
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) April 10, 2018
This is on par with the top defensive player payouts in the league, such as Ndamukong Suh’s $70M guaranteed and Von Miller’s $60M guaranteed, $19M/per season contract. That was before though — Mack and Aaron Donald are about to reset the defensive market.
We’re talking big money, but the Raiders are (should be) prepared for this. Why is anyone surprised/upset/frustrated? It’s been coming since his spectacular second season and has only been increased by his recent play. Mack is a superstar, a generational talent versatile enough to be in the top five at his position yearly in pressuring/sacking the quarterback and stopping the run.
Few Raider fans will deny that — even the trade Mack faction. I think people just got spooked when he didn’t show for workouts because he’s such a team guy. But he deserves whatever he gets, and the Raiders will make sure he gets it. They’ve made that clear from day one, and McKenzie isn’t wavering now. As he told Steve Wyche of NFL.com:
“This is going to be a big contract and all sides are trying to make everything work. It’s about the end result. One thing I know is that we love Khalil Mack and we want to make him a Raider for life. We’ll get through all the other stuff. We understand the business part of it. Everybody is aware of everything and nobody is surprised. Everything, on all sides has been positive. I can’t stress that enough.”
Unfortunately it appears for the moment, talks are moving fairly slowly:
Raiders been discussing extension with Khalil Mack. Hoped to move quickly on it. But early talks weren’t close. https://t.co/qre1mKZK3A
— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) April 9, 2018
There’s no reason to believe this deal will be an issue. Mack is a team leader, a humble and kind community presence and as good of a teammate off the field as a defensive animal on. While the Raiders could likely fetch a hefty sum in a trade, there is no way that is happening – and that’s a good thing.
Even though the deal is moving slowly, both sides want the same thing — the Silver & Black Mack Attack.
While Mack wasn’t in attendance, pretty much everyone else was when…
Gruden Meets The Raiders
Since being hired on January 6, the CBA assured Gruden could not speak to or meet with any of his players. That all changed on April 9 when the team — minus Mack, of course – showed up for their “voluntary” offseason workout program.
Still, Gruden wasn’t planning on coming in with a bunch of bluster and pomp. He’s got very clear goals for the workout sessions, and building team relationships:
“I’m not going to say a whole lot,” Gruden said. “We got a new program downstairs, totally different to what has been going on there. Really sell our strength and conditioning program. I want the (players) to go down there and lift and run and be together for three hours and then I want them to come upstairs and do football for one hour that first week and get excited about being a Raider and learning our system and building some relationships that’s what it’s all about trust in our relationships. I’m looking forward to having our players and our team and our working together.”
Those trying to push a Mack vs. Gruden or negative agenda with Mack’s absence, well, it happens. There was a time when Marshawn Lynch and Gruden apparently didn’t see eye to eye — only they’d never spoken. They have now, and as Lynch’s cousin, Bay Area rapper Mistah Fab told 95.7 The Game, Marshawn and Jon are good:
“He loves Gruden. We talked about that earlier this week. He loves what Gruden has told him – he said ‘Man, I want to get you more involved in the offense.’”
Which apparently has Lynch pumped – in more ways than one:
”That has [Marshawn] getting into some of the best condition I’ve seen him in in a long time. He came in, he gave me a hug the other day after shopping. I was like, ‘Damn, cuz. What you on steroids?’”
There is some mildly concerning news regarding Gareon Conley, who still isn’t cleared for on-field drills:
— Levi Damien (@LeviDamien) April 13, 2018
Conley is working out on his own and all indications are that the Raiders are just being uber cautious with him due to the missteps from his rookie season. Indications are he’ll be ready for training camp. Let’s hope as the Raiders very much need him healthy.
While the Raiders were working out, the NFL schedule makers were working things out as well. As such, we now know…
The Raiders Preseason Schedule
The Raiders preseason schedule was announced on April 12. The Raiders will play host to the Packers and Lions, and travel to play the Rams and Seahawks.
The Seahawks are a perennial offseason opponent, but the Lions, Rams and Packers aren’t so frequent. The Raiders last played the Lions in 2014, the Pack in 2016 and the Rams in 2016 as well. The Raiders have closed the preseason against Seattle for the last thirteen years.
The Lions comes to Oakland Week 1, between Aug 9 – 12. Then the Raiders travel to their old home, LA Coliseum, to challenge the scary-looking Rams roster. After that comes the all-important third preseason game against the Pack, culminating with a trip to Seattle to close it out.
The Rams and Seahawks games will serve as teasers for the regular season when the Raiders meet both teams.
With the announcement that the Raiders will be traveling back to their old stomping grounds, it’s only right to turn attention to their new stomping grounds. Raiders president Marc Badain continues to win over the Henderson community and promote the Raiders positively in Nevada. That’s why…
Marc Badain To Moderate a Development Session In Henderson
The Henderson Development Association is hosting a dinner and information session on May 2 to give business folks and investors a chance to discuss the potential impact of the Raiders move to the area. Badain will moderate the event, along with Henderson Mayor Debra March.
The event should draw interest from many local investors and developers, considering the prospect of leveraging the Raiders move for further investment and development of the Henderson area.
Let’s check in with some more positive Raider news. As mentioned in last week’s roundup, Derek Carr and some former teammates went on down to Haiti to help out the locals and gain some perspective. Well…
Karl Joseph Went To Haiti
But of course, Joseph is a native Haitian — having been born there. Joseph went back home with Seahawk Cliff Avril to aid families in need. Avril’s father was Haitian and stressed education, and Avril has been going back to Haiti to do charitable works since 2013. This time around Avril and Joseph helped build a restroom for children, and ran a football camp. Joseph shared his experiences through social media and the work ethic that comes from being Haitian:
It’s nice to be able to include such positive stories in the roundup for two weeks in a row. Now, back to football.
As I previously mentioned, there are still two weeks until the NFL draft. As such, next week’s news roundup will be littered with Mock Drafts and speculation. That’s next week. This week, I give you…
A Brief Roundup of Raiders Mock Drafts
I checked numerous mock drafts from Raider-specific sites and big sports folks (Silver & Black Pride, ESPN, etc.) and the two names mentioned most often, by far, are Roquan Smith and Tremaine Edmunds. So, linebacker. These are, of course, first round selections.
For an excellent full seven-round mock, check out Dean Brugler’s over at NFL scout. There are some coming up from Only1Nation friends Black Hole Banter soon too:
FYI, planning on dropping a 7 round #Raiders mock draft sometime this week. Hopefully tomorrow but definitely before Friday.
Already feel like the first round is gonna make some people upset lol
— James (@RaidersReporter) April 16, 2018
In light of Reuben Foster’s recent allegedly terrible behavior the Niners may themselves pounce on a linebacker. The Foster situation has a direct impact on both the Raiders and Niners drafts as both teams suddenly have similar needs — and pick one spot apart. One never knows, but the information available suggests Foster possibly won’t — and frankly if true definitely shouldn’t – be in the NFL much longer.
Those who do not have linebacker are going DB instead. Derwin James, Denzel Ward, Josh Jackson and Jaire Alexander are all names floating around. Fluid. In flux. Utterly unsure. Some words to describe this year’s draft.
Basically, nobody knows. This year is more speculative than most due to the depth of talent, and the fluidity of this draft to break a lot of different ways. It’s going to be really interesting – and next week we’ll dive in.
Check out Only1Nation.com and the previously mentioned guide to McKenzie’s draft types to help you decipher it all, and ensure you follow @Only1Nation_ and our crew for the latest in all Raider news and analysis leading up to the draft. I’ll have more about mock drafts with analysis of the potential picks in next week’s roundup.