The Las Vegas Raiders may have made the biggest surprise of the draft when they took Alex Leatherwood in the first round. It was the fourth draft in a row that the team made a perceived reach in the first round. A report from Tony Pauline of Pro Football Network suggested that there are major issues brewing behind the scenes.
Things cooled off after the team had a successful second day of the draft. However, former NFL scout John Middlekauff revealed that some people in the NFL thought Jon Gruden “went rogue” and that the team isn’t valuing players correctly.
Two texts I’ve received from NFL people in last 20 minutes
– Raiders have poor feel for player value
– Gruden went rogue
— John Middlekauff (@JohnMiddlekauff) May 1, 2021
Now, it’s important to note that these don’t sound like rumors that are coming directly from Raiders sources. It sounds more like speculation from other NFL teams. Obviously, Las Vegas isn’t really concerned with what other teams think about them. While it’s easy to claim the Raiders reached when they took Leatherwood, that’s ignoring the fact that other teams could’ve valued him more than the media did.
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These Rumors Seem Suspect
There’s been a lot of speculation that there could be tension between Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock. Obviously, the coach has the final say on all major decisions and there are many general managers who wouldn’t like not being the man in charge. That said, Mayock hasn’t given any indication that he’s unhappy.
As far as the Leatherwood pick goes, it appears that the media may have gotten his value wrong. According to Jim Nagy and Benjamin Allbright, the former Alabama offensive lineman would not have made it out of the first round.
He 100% would not have gotten past Baltimore https://t.co/G1XFfbs3h1
— Benjamin Allbright (@AllbrightNFL) May 2, 2021
It didn’t matter if 30 other teams didn’t think Leatherwood was a first-round pick, it just would’ve taken one for the Raiders to miss out on their guy. Also, Mayock made it clear that the whole team was wanting to make the pick.
“Coach Cable has been all over him for months now,” Mayock said after the first round on Thursday. “Gruden loved this guy. Our scouts loved this guy. And what I like is, when the second floor in our building, which is all the coaches, and the third floor, which is all the scouts, when we’re united on a conversation like Leatherwood, that makes me feel really good about the pick.”
Any rumors of discord amongst the Raiders seem to be based on speculation and not fact.
Raiders Draft Wasn’t That Bad
With the reports that Leatherwood wouldn’t have made it to the Raiders’ second-round pick and the fact that the team got Trevon Moehrig in the second round, their draft actually looks solid. Divine Deablo and Malcolm Koonce were also good pickups.
It’s easy to worry about the Raiders’ draft considering the last two had some serious misses. However, this group deserves the benefit of the doubt. A big reason why it’s seems false that “Gruden went rogue” is the fact that the team used all but two draft picks on defensive players. If Gruden truly took control of the draft room, he would’ve landed himself some more playmakers.
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