By Anthony Paoli, Staff Writer
For any football fans in the Bay Area, it probably hasn’t been the season we were all hoping for. Both the Oakland Raiders and the San Francisco 49ers have two of the worst records in the NFL this season. Both teams currently sit at 2-9, tied for the worst record in the NFL. While this season seems to be a lost cause for these teams, there are some bright spots for the Raiders and the 49ers moving forward.
For the Raiders, the big story in the offseason was the hiring of new head coach Jon Gruden. Gruden signed a 10 year contract, the longest coaching contract in NFL history, for what was reported to be around $100 million. Just two years ago the Raiders were a playoff team, but eventually got knocked out in the wild card game when quarterback Derek Carr went down with a broken leg with just a few weeks left in the season. With high expectations, the Raiders were a let down the next season with a 6-10 record, missing the playoffs. Gruden was the guy brought in to right the ship for the Raiders, but ultimately his first season has been one to forget.
Gruden’s moves this season have made it obvious he’s planning for the future. Right before the season, outside linebacker Khalil Mack was traded to the Bears for a first round pick the next two years, a third round pick next year, and a sixth round pick this year. Mack is regarded as one of the best defensive players in the league and to refuse to pay him and instead trade him for draft picks, Gruden’s agenda was clear: He was looking towards the future. Even more, Gruden traded pro bowl wide receiver Amari Cooper to the Dallas Cowboys for a first round pick.
The Raiders have 10 draft picks in the upcoming draft. Currently, the Raiders are slotted at the third overall pick in the 2019 season, behind the Cardinals and the 49ers. Defensive end Nick Bosa seems to be the favorite to be the first overall pick which is unfortunate for the Raiders who are in desperate need of a better pass rush. Assuming Bosa is off the board by the Raiders pick, the Raiders may go with Clelin Ferrell, a defensive end for Clemson. Ferrell is a balanced pass rusher and and run stopper. He has a quick first step allowing him to beat his blocker with speed, yet has the strength and body size to shed blocks to stop the run.
If the Raiders decide to deviate from the idea of improving their much needed pass rush, whispers have been starting to come up, questioning Derek Carr’s future as the Raiders quarterback. If these rumors are true, the Raiders could be looking at Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert. Herbert has been compared to former Oregon quarterback and now member of the Tennessee Titans, Marcus Mariota. Like Mariota, Herbert has great arm strength and a big body, standing at 6’6”. But Herbert has most been praised for his athletic ability. His athleticism allows him to extend plays and create something out of nothing on broken down plays.
With 10 draft picks in this upcoming draft, Raiders fans are hoping this is the year they see an improvement to their team. With 10 picks, this could be the year we all look back on as the draft class that set the foundation for a winning organization.