Clelin Ferrell Jersey

I don’t know if Clemson Tigers Head Coach Dabo Sweeney put in a good word, but the Oakland Raiders have added two Tigers just four picks into the 2019 NFL Draft.

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Head Coach Jon Gruden and General Manager Mike Mayock got the party started Thursday night when they selected premier pass rusher Clelin Ferrell with the No. 4 overall pick and followed it up with running back Josh Jacobs at No. 24 and safety Johnathan Abram at No. 27.

When Day Two started, the Silver and Black were originally supposed to be the third team to make their choice with the No. 35 pick, but after trading back with the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Buffalo Bills they didn’t pick until No. 40. With the Raiders’ second-round pick, the team selected Ferrell’s college teammate, cornerback Trayvon Mullen. The Clemson Tiger had an impressive performance during the 2019 College Football Playoff National Championship game, which Mayock happened to be in attendance for.

The opportunity to join forces with his Tiger brethren at the NFL level is something Mullen is looking forward to, and he’s eager to hit the field with his fellow 2019 draftmates.

“It means a lot being a member of the Oakland Raiders, getting a chance to get with [Head] Coach [Jon] Gruden and them, and [General Manager] Mike [Mayock], the GM,” Mullen told the media via conference call. “Those guys are great guys. They brought me up on the visit. They took the opportunity to draft me. They are going to get a great player especially with me and Clelin and even [Johnathan] Jon Abram, because that’s like my best friend man. Us guys getting together is going to be awesome.”

Mullen spent three seasons at Clemson, winning the CFP National Championship twice. He played in 32 games, totaled 93 tackles, four-and-a-half tackles for loss, two sacks, four interceptions, and seven passes defensed. While his body of work speaks for itself, he thinks his one interception, one sack, and six tackle performance improved his draft stock because it showed that he’s capable of playing his best under the bright lights.

“I think it did a lot,” Mullen said when asked about whether his championship performance helped him stand out. “Just the way I went out there and showed the world the elite player that I am, how confident I am, how strong and physical I am and just showing my capability and the type of good athlete I am. I believe that game played a big role. I was really excited after that game. It motivated me a lot to even make my decision to coming out early.”

The Fort Lauderdale, Fla., native was on Mayock’s draft board that day on, and the Raiders general manager was fired up when he selected him at No. 40 overall.

“We’re excited to get Trayvon, another Clemson player,” Mayock said during his press conference following Day Two of the 2019 NFL Draft. “He had a great national championship game, he’s a long corner 6’1”, almost 6’2”. About 190 pounds, ran in the 4.4 [second range]. We love his length, he fits in Paul Guenther’s defense to a T. Long press corner that runs and we’re really excited about this kid’s upside.”

Mullen will join a secondary featuring former first-round pick Gareon Conley, and on opposite sides of the field they could offer great range and length, setting up a quality tandem for years to come.

Rodney Hudson Jersey

The Oakland Raiders have the best center in the NFL in Rodney Hudson, and he has to be priority No. 1 as he heads to free agency next offseason.

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Heading into the 2019 NFL season, the Oakland Raiders have a lot of work to do when it comes to their roster. Not only do they have more than their fair share of free agents, but they are also on the clock three times in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft, so new general manager Mike Mayock better get to work.

Of all the pending free agents this season, tight end Jared Cook is probably the biggest, as he has led the Raiders in receiving yards the past two seasons. However, the 2020 free agent class has one huge name at the top of the list, and that name is Rodney Hudson, the team’s Pro Bowl center.

A lot of talk has gone on this offseason already about whether or not Derek Carr should be the team’s quarterback going forward. At 27-years old, Carr is already on the brink of being the most prolific quarterback in team history, so the narrative that he should not be the guy going forward is a bit laughable.

Since he took over as the starting quarterback in 2014, Carr has had two centers, with his current one being the best at his position in football. During Carr’s rookie season, he had 25-years old Stefan Wisniewski as his center during a 3-13 campaign, and the team made sure they would bolster the position that offseason.
During the 2015 offseason, Oakland signed Hudson away from the Kansas City Chiefs, inking him to a five-year contract worth over $44 million. That contract included $20 million in guaranteed money, and while that was a good price for the former second round pick, he is going to be expecting a lot more in 2020.

That is when his current contract expires, and if I were running the Raiders, I would back up the Brinks Truck to have him back for the remainder of his career. Hudson is the kind of dominant player that does not come around too often, and we have already seen the Raiders part way with one of those kind of players this past offseason in Khalil Mack.
In his four years with Oakland, Hudson has allowed only two sacks, and while I give you a minute to let that sink in, imagine how bad this offensive line would be without him. Last season, the Raiders started rookies at the offensive tackle positions, and guards Kelechi Osemele and Gabe Jackson both missed time due to injury.

Incredibly, Hudson was not a Pro Bowler in 2018, but the entire league knows how good this guy is. He has not missed a game in his last three seasons, and you can be sure he is going to be even more hungry entering a contract year in 2019.
No matter who is at quarterback, or who is running the ball in 2020, Hudson has to be the man in the middle along this offensive line. He will be only 30-years old next season, and has a lot of good football left in him, so let us hope that he remains in the Silver and Black until he is done playing.

Gabe Jackson Jersey

The Raiders’ offensive line was a weakness in coach Jon Gruden’s return season, after being a strength in recent years. The unit underperformed despite being heavily invested in by the club. All three interior players are on lucrative contracts, and both offensive tackles are members of Gruden’s first draft class.

Rookie left tackle Kolton Miller, a first-round pick, was expected to start immediately, but his fellow rookie, right tackle Brandon Parker, was slated to back up veteran OT Donald Penn. Penn was lost for the season because of injury, however, and Parker started 12 games. He struggled mightily, as did Miller.
But Parker, selected by the Raiders after moving up in the third round, is working out with another of Oakland’s prized investments up front, guard Gabe Jackson. They two are actually living together, according to Gruden. The coach says they’re training hard, as well as refueling as only an offensive lineman can.

Jon Gruden told @JTTheBrick that RT Brandon Parker is living with Gabe Jackson in Mississippi. “Working hard, and if he’s with Gabe, you know he’s eating good.” Gruden looking for “dramatic improvement” out of tackles Parker and Kolton Miller. #Raiders

— Vic Tafur (@VicTafur) February 23, 2019

It’s promising that Parker is learning how to train, and eat, from Jackson. Both he and Miller could stand to put on some weight — in both muscle and overall mass. At 6-foot-8 and 305 pounds, Parker has an ideal frame to add bulk to. Miller’s body is nearly identical to Parker’s at 6-foot-8 and 309 pounds.

Both of Gruden’s young tackles possess above-average athleticism, so optimism for their improvement is well placed. Miller is tasked with becoming a franchise left tackle, while it would be a win for the Raiders if Parker could simply be trusted to protect the quarterback when needed. It seems he’s doing all he can, and eating all he can, to ensure his second season is better than his first.

Seth Roberts Jersey

The Oakland Raiders’ offseason overhaul of their receiver corps continues.
The Raiders released wideout Seth Roberts on Thursday, the team announced. ESPN first reported the news.

Roberts, an undrafted free agent in 2014, spent four years in Oakland, snagging 158 passes for 1,826 yards and 13 touchdowns. Cutting the receiver saves the Raiders $4.8 million on the salary cap.

The decision to jettison Roberts comes after Jon Gruden’s squad made massive upgrades to the receiver unit in the past month. First came the blockbuster trade for star Antonio Brown. The Raiders then signed speedsters Tyrell Williams and J.J. Nelson. On Wednesday, the club added veteran Ryan Grant to the corps.

The overhaul left Roberts the odd man out in Oakland.

The 28-year-old caught 45 passes for 494 yards with two touchdowns in 2018 for an underwhelming Raiders receiver group.

At 6-foot-2, Roberts remains a viable slot receiver for a team in need of veteran depth. Last season, he played 79 percent of his snaps from the slot, per Next Gen Stats.

Marshawn Lynch Jersey

Marshawn Lynch isn’t a mortal lock to return to the Raiders next season. There’s certainly interest from both sides in playing another year together, but no reunion has been set.

That isn’t expected until after the NFL draft, as the Raiders continue to weigh options to fill their big void on the roster.

“We have a need at halfback, at feature back,” Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said Tuesday morning at the NFL owners meeting. “We’re going to keep the door open for Marshawn, certainly. We’re going to keep researching his situation and we’ll see what happens.”

There’s some clarity on Lynch’s situation. He is healthy and cleared to play again, after suffering a groin injury in last season’s Week 6 loss to Seattle.

Lynch was his elusive, violent self before the injury, arguably the best Raiders skill player all season. He’ll be 33 next month but has shown an ability to run well at an age where most runners fall off. He could be an asset to the Raiders even if he isn’t getting 20 touches a game. He could be an asset to the Raiders even if they draft a running back of the future relatively high in the NFL draft.

“We’re looking for a three-down back, a guy who can play in any situation,” Gruden said. “That’s a guy who can catch it, pick up blitzes and a guy who can run in the first and the fourth quarter. We’re looking for guys with some durability and versatility. That’s a big thing. They’re hard to find. You have to have a certain size about you. You have to take punishment and deliver punishment. Those are the big things we look for.”

Lynch can do all of those things, and ease the transition to a younger runner. The Raiders expect Jalen Richard back on a second-round restricted free agent contract tender. He’ll have a role. Chris Warren’s an intriguing prospect who shined in the summer before missing the season with a knee issue.

The Raiders sent running backs coach Kirby Wilson to Alabama’s pro day to scout top prospects Josh Jacobs and Damien Harris. The Raiders are turning over every rock looking for stability at the running back spot.

Lynch is a player who can produce and put butts in the seats during a farewell season in Oakland hometown. Lynch is immensely popular in the East Bay for his charitable work, especially with children, and champions Oakland at every turn.

[RELATED: AB has something to prove, will help Raiders]

Owner Mark Davis is a big fan. Jon Gruden always has been. So are many owners of the No. 24 jersey. Bringing Lynch back for one more season in Oakland – I can’t imagine a scenario where he’d be a Las Vegas Raiders – remains an option as the offseason progresses. It just hasn’t been exercised yet.

“The door’s always going to be open for Marshawn Lynch,” Gruden said. “All the doors are always going to be open for him.”
Owner Mark Davis is a big fan. Jon Gruden always has been. So are many owners of the No. 24 jersey. Bringing Lynch back for one more season in Oakland – I can’t imagine a scenario where he’d be a Las Vegas Raiders – remains an option as the offseason progresses. It just hasn’t been exercised yet.

“The door’s always going to be open for Marshawn Lynch,” Gruden said. “All the doors are always going to be open for him.”

Tahir Whitehead Jersey

Tahir Whitehead was brought in by the Oakland Raiders to be a leader on the defense, and by the end of the season, he became just that.

OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 02: Tahir Whitehead #59 of the Oakland Raiders celebrates after a play against the Kansas City Chiefs during their NFL game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on December 2, 2018 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

The linebacker unit for the Oakland Raiders has been one of the more undeveloped parts of the team for years now. So Jon Gruden and the front office wanted to bring in a younger but veteran presence to help stabilize this group for the time being and help move the team forward as they began rebuilding the entire roster.

Insert Tahir Whitehead who after six years with the Detriot Lions signed with Oakland to get a fresh start and become a leader on the Raiders defense. The transition to Oakland did not go well for Whitehead to start, but by season’s end, he showed some definite signs of life.
Expectation

Whitehead was brought in to start at weak-side linebacker and bring toughness and attitude to the Raiders defense especially against the run. In 2017, Whitehead ranked 13th among linebackers in run defense grade according to Pro Football Focus. And for a team that was bottom 10 in most rushing defense categories, this was precisely what they needed.
Reality

Reality hit hard for Whitehead as he was a complete mess at the beginning of the season. Missing tackles, slow in his read and abysmal in coverage. It got to the point where he was arguably the worst starting linebacker in the league for a while. And the linebacker group as a whole was playing at a really low level. He did consistently rack up tackles, but the reality is that tackle stats are the most overrated stat concerning a player’s actual success on the field.

However, Whitehead began to find his footing towards the end of the season. Starting in week 12, you could see him beginning to elevate his play to a level that no longer made him a liability and at times he was a strength. He played his best game against Pittsburgh where he got his only interception of the season and made plays all over the field. He went from allowing a perfect passer rating in coverage to actually being in a position to have quite a few more interceptions than he ended up with (but he can’t catch). Whitehead also proved his durability starting every game and by far playing the most snaps of any defensive player.

Though despite his late-season surge, Whitehead did not really bring much improvement to the Raiders defense overall in 2018.
Looking Ahead

Whitehead is no doubt going to be part of the team moving forward, he still has two years left on his contract, and there’s been no indication of the Raiders looking to release him from it. He was even out in Las Vegas visiting the stadium work site not too long ago, plus new GM Mike Mayock had kind words to say about him.

“Tahir Whitehead is a good football player, really solid,” Mayock said.

However, it will be interesting to see how the Raiders address the other linebacker positions next to him. Whitehead can’t be your best linebacker on the field given his overall struggles in coverage so how will Oakland address the need?
Jon Gruden and Paul Guenther’s track record says they don’t necessarily value the linebacker position in terms of high draft picks so it will be interesting to see if they break that mold.

Marcus Gilchrist Jersey

Former Clemson defensive back Marcus Gilchirst made the NFL highlight reel on Sunday. Sort of.

Marcus Gilchirst

The Oakland Raiders’ defender posted two tackles in the team’s 45-42 win over the Cleveland Browns. But his biggest impact came via a tipped ball.

Less than five minutes into the game, Cleveland quarterback Baker Mayfield, the first overall pick in this year’s draft, tried to connect with Anthony Calloway on a short pass.
Gilchrist read the play and jumped in front of Calloway’s outstretched hands, tipping the ball into the air. His teammate, Gareon Conley, bobbled it, secured it, and ran it in for a touchdown.

Defense wasn’t a huge factor in the game, as the two teams combined for 87 points. But Gilchrist did help Oakland get on the board early and capture its first win of the season. Meanwhile, the pick-six was Oakland’s first in two years.

Gilchrist has 19 tackles this season.
Highlights from other former Tigers

Deshaun Watson, quarterback, Houston Texans – 29 for 42 for 375 yards and 2 touchdowns in 37-34 win over Indianapolis

DeAndre Hopkins, wide receiver, Houston Texans – 10 catches for 169 yards and a touchdown in 37-34 win over Indianapolis.

Jordan Leggett, tight end, New York Jets – 3 catches for 13 yards and a touchdown in 31-13 loss to Jacksonville.

Adam Humphries, wide receiver, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 6 catches for 36 yards in 48-10 loss to Chicago.

Coty Sensabaugh, cornerback, Pittsburgh Steelers – 5 tackles in 26-14 loss to Baltimore.

Rashaan Melvin Jersey

Six-year NFL veteran Rashaan Melvin signed a one-year, $3.5 million contract with the Detroit Lions. The exact guarantees in the deal are unkown but the deal keeps him with the team until 2020. Melvin, a Northern Illinois product, spent the 2018 season as a member of the Oakland Raiders.

Rashaan Melvin


Rashaan Melvin, Detroit Lions Agree to Deal Melvin spent the 2018 season on a one-year deal with the Oakland Raiders. Playing in 14 games, the former undrafted free agent recorded 56 tackles, one interception, and nine passes defended. His overall numbers were average, and Pro Football Focus backs that up. Per the advanced analytics website, Melvin finished 2018 as the 93rd-ranked cornerback in football.

Melvin first entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent back in the 2013 NFL season. Signing on with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Melvin earned a spot on the 2013 Opening Day roster. However, the rookie suffered a hamstring injury late in the preseason and never made it on the field. Despite early hope that he could return, Tampa Bay placed him on the injured reserve after five straight weeks on the inactive list. With a new head coach in town, Melvin didn’t survive roster cuts in 2014.

Melvin landed on his feet, signing on with the Miami Dolphins practice squad. He wouldn’t last there long, as the second-year cornerback joined the Baltimore Ravens active roster early in November. He didn’t see the field until December, but he was soon starting for a Ravens team that made it all the way to the AFC Divisional Round. Melvin had a bad game in that playoff performance, allowing 12 receptions for 224 yards and two touchdowns to Tom Brady and the eventual Super Bowl champion New England Patriots.

Melvin started the 2015 season with Baltimore before getting released and signing with the Patriots. He didn’t last the whole season on the active roster, but remained on New England’s practice squad for the entirety of the 2015 season.

Melvin spent the next two years of his career with the Indianapolis Colts. Initially signed as a depth piece, Melvin became one of the more important members of the Colts secondary in 2016. Appearing in 15 games (starting nine), Melvin recorded 60 tackles and seven passes defended. Melvin was even better in 2017, recording 36 tackles and three interceptions in 10 games before suffering a season-ending hand injury.

Leon Hall Jersey

ALAMEDA, Calif. — Leon Hall has a knack for diagnosing and explaining complex football concepts, the 12th-year NFL veteran possessing a strong grasp of leverages, coverages, route combinations and various techniques that are at his position’s core.

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What happened Sunday is more difficult to explain.

“When you’re going through it?” Hall said Thursday. “I can’t describe it. It’s kind of scary.”

The Raiders cornerback did not travel back to Oakland with the team following its Sunday game against the Broncos. He was hospitalized overnight in Denver for evaluation following an episode related to his carriage of the sickle cell trait. Issues can arise at high altitude, where the atmosphere contains less oxygen than at sea level.

Broncos Stadium at Mile High is at 5,280-foot elevation.

Hall played there twice before with the Cincinnati Bengals, in 2011 and 2015.

“The sickle cell trait got to me,” Hall said. “And usually, I can handle it pretty well. I’ve played there a couple times, and I’ve had the same issue, kind of, but not as extreme. That one kind of came out of nowhere for me. … Breathing is tough. Chest is hurting. You feel real fatigued — ‘heavy’ would be a good word for it, too. It’s not a good feeling, especially when you’re trying to play defense and cover people. It’s not great.”

Sickle cell trait involves an abnormal gene for hemoglobin, a protein that transports oxygen in red blood cells.

According to University of San Francisco Health, extreme physical exertion at high elevation can render someone who possesses it more prone to “splenic infarction.” Its website characterizes the illness as “tissue death in the spleen caused by a lack of oxygen to this vital organ. … Splenic infarction causes sudden and sometimes severe pain in the left side of the chest and abdomen.”

Hall, a starting nickel corner, pushed through his situation.
He played 55 of 66 defensive snaps in the 20-19 loss, including all 10 plays of a decisive fourth-quarter drive. Hall’s circumstances provide context not only to his afternoon but, from a larger viewpoint, the greater grittiness on display from Raiders defenders during an albeit disappointing finish.

The physical exhaustion was obvious.

At 92 degrees for kickoff, Sunday marked the warmest home game in Broncos franchise history. Heat and altitude effects were exacerbated in the second half, as all four of Denver’s offensive drives spanned double-digit plays. In the final series, which culminated in a field goal with six seconds remaining, Raiders defensive ends Bruce Irvin and Arden Key didn’t sub out once; they were assigned to rush on all 10 plays. Between some snaps, they stood with their bodies hunched over, hands on knees, fighting to catch their breath.

At one point, defensive end Frostee Rucker laid on the field after a play. The officiating crew did not stop the game, so Rucker hurried back to the line of scrimmage.

And then, there was Hall, who sprinted and dove for an open-field tackle on a 26-yard reception that set up the field goal. His very presence on the field was a feat.

Hall, 33, joined the Raiders in March on a one-year contract. He quickly proved to be a valuable addition, earning not only a roster spot and role but serving as a mentor to younger teammates. Before the season, he was voted one of six team captains.

Hall received intravenous fluids and underwent additional testing in Denver before returning to Oakland on Monday evening. He has practiced throughout this week and is expected to play Sunday against the Miami Dolphins.

“I feel better now, so that’s all I’m really worried about,” Hall said. “I’m glad I got through it, and hopefully, it doesn’t become any kind of issue going forward.”

Frostee Rucker Jersey

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Frostee Rucker could have shut it down in August.

In his situation, some might have.

There he was, a 13-year NFL veteran, a month shy of his 35th birthday, on the field during the fourth quarter of the Raiders’ first exhibition. He shared a field with several young players who wouldn’t make the 53-man roster, soon to be waived or traded. Many of his veteran teammates stood on the sideline, laughing over sunflower seeds; they changed out of their pads at halftime.

Not Rucker.

He played on.

“Year 13,” Rucker said. “It’s a humbling experience.”

That Aug. 10 outing against the Detroit Lions ended in fitting fashion. Rucker, surrounded by rookies, clinched a 16-10 win with a fumble recovery in the final minute. He kept playing. He led the roster’s youth. And he didn’t stop. Rucker has embraced an important leadership role for the Raiders, whose season will conclude Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs.

At 4-11, there will be no playoffs for these Raiders.

No one can predict when their roster’s construction will manifest into a postseason return.

Should that happen in the coming years, Rucker will be remembered as one of the men who built the foundation. Such has been the nature of his locker-room influence.
“He’s been extremely helpful,” said defensive tackle Mo Hurst Jr., a rookie fifth-round pick. “He’s someone that’s kind of done it all and seen it all, as far as being a pro and an NFL player and playing 13 seasons. He just knows. He has been through everything, so you can really talk to him about all aspects of the game, whether it’s about life or technique, coaching. Just how to go about being a pro and not making some of the same mistakes that he may have made early in his career.”

The co-captain not only seeks opportunities to guide young players.

He looks out for them.

This month, he suggested to coach Jon Gruden that all 10 members of the practice squad be invited to stand on the sideline, rather than their place inside a stadium suite, for a Dec. 9 home game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Gruden agreed. Rucker similarly influenced the decision to allow the practice squad, which doesn’t travel to road games, to make the Dec. 14-16 trip to Cincinnati for a game against the Bengals.

“We all got our own (hotel) room,” defensive tackle Gabe Wright said. “It was a good treat for guys.”

In June, Rucker joined the club on a one-year contract.

He expected — and trained accordingly — to be a defensive tackle. He hadn’t regularly played defensive end since the 2014 season. But the latter is where the Raiders thought he served the team. He mostly has worked outside, logging 34 tackles, 10 quarterback hurries and four quarterback hits without a sack, according to Pro Football Focus.
His number of hurries and hits rank second on the team.

“He’s been great off the field for our guys,” Gruden said. “Been great on the practice field and versatile. That’s how he’s made it so long in this league. He’s been able to play defensive tackle, defensive end, right end, left end, sub nickel. Whatever package you’re playing, he can play in. That’s one of the reasons that he continues to play pretty good. He knows what to do, and he’s versatile.”

Rucker began playing football at age 7.

He entered the league in 2006. Rookie defensive end Arden Key was 9 at the time.

This past week, it was natural to ask Rucker whether he thinks Sunday could be the final game of his NFL career. Such a decision requires careful thought. He plans to mull the decision this offseason. But his instinct is to continue fighting and playing through it.

That reflex is what pushed him through the preseason.

“We’ll see how it lands,” Rucker said. “Deep down, I know my ability. I know I can play. I know if I train the right way for the position, that I can be way better at it. That’s the bright side of things. Second tier of that is how my body actually recovers, how my family feels about one more year or two, whatever it may be.

“I’ll cross that bridge pretty soon. I’m just going to play as hard as I can for this group of men come Sunday and finish this 2018 off the right way.”