Tough Season Means Raiders Coaches To Lead Team at Senior Bowl

raiders senior bowl mike mayock jon gruden

Due to coaching changes in the NFL, the Raiders staff will have the opportunity to coach a team in the annual Senior Bowl game. That should be a big plus for a team flush with draft picks and a new general manager in Mike Mayock.

The Raiders 2018 NFL season is mercifully over but the positives coming with the end of the season will certainly help the team moving forward.

Some solace can be found in the fact that their struggles have left them in possession the fourth overall pick in the upcoming  2019 NFL draft – coupled with the two other first-round picks they received via trades and their own early 2nd round pick. That means the Raiders are the owner of four of the initial 36 selections. Should the combination of new general manager Mike Mayock and head coach Jon Gruden hit on these picks, it will significantly quicken the pace of the current roster rebuild.

That enterprise received a major boost when both the New York Jets and Arizona Cardinals fired their head coaches allowing Gruden and his staff to slide into coaching a team in the Senior Bowl.

Senior Bowl Raiders Jon Gruden Mike Mayock
The Raiders staff will get a golden opportunity to forge close relationships with players preparing for the 2019 NFL Draft at the Senior Bowl.

“We have three picks in the first round,” Gruden said today during Mayock’s introductory press conference. “We also pick in every round and we also have the potential to add players after the draft. It will give our coaches, I think, a chance to go to Mobile (site of the game in Alabama) in front of the entire NFL and show what kind of coaching staff we have. Show the energy and enthusiasm that we have as a staff. We’re going to sell ourselves to the players.”

Having that opportunity to “sell themselves” is going to come up when teams are battling over undrafted free agents. There will be at least one quote that comes out after a player signs referencing the relationship that was forged during the Senior Bowl. It could even extend to players hitting free agency after their rookie contracts expire. Personal relationships can factor into a players decision on which team to sign with even more than the money.

Of course getting to coach these guys in practice will give them insight into their demeanors and work ethic. Outside of the truly gifted athletes, a players effort is going to be the real determining factor in the quality of his career. Nobody wants to be the GM that drafts a Ryan Leaf, Johnny Manziel, or as Raiders fans can attest, Jamarcus Russell. Identifying guys who do not fit the team’s culture can have addition by subtraction effect.

“If we can eliminate two or three players, by coaching in the Senior Bowl,” Gruden continued. “Sometimes that’s just as important as finding two or three guys that you really want.”

Regardless of if it is identifying guys to bring in or guys to avoid, this look behind the curtain is going to be exponentially valuable for the staff’s evaluation. They have a quality talent evaluator in place and a coaching staff who have been together for a year. Getting to see these kids up close and personal will only help narrow down selections in a draft that could define the next five years of Raiders football. The disastrous 2018 season will either be looked at as the beginning of a renaissance or simply one more in a string of disasters.

Leave a Reply