With six picks between them, the Raiders and Giants looked to Round 1 of the draft to help their latest rebuilds. Which team handled its business better?
The New York Giants and Oakland Raiders had three picks apiece in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft, with selections that increasingly confounded lookers-on. With both teams needing to rebuild, multiple Round 1 draft picks are among the best ways to do so. But that can only be accomplished if the picks are good. While we don’t know how these six players will look on an NFL field for months, the on-paper analysis says that the Raiders fared the worst between the two.
The Raiders’ haul in Round 1 — defensive end Clelin Ferrell at No. 4 overall, running back Josh Jacobs at No. 24 and safety Jonathan Abram at No. 27 — is a head-scratcher. Ferrell was a second-day pick for most analysts, Jacobs was the first running back off the board and plays a position where the best value can be found in the draft’s middle rounds and Abram is an in-the-box safety, a position that is falling out of favor for more rangy, coverage-savvy defensive backs.
In contrast, the Giants made the better moves, despite their massive reach for Duke quarterback Daniel Jones at No. 6. Their two other selections — Clemson defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence and Georgia cornerback Deandre Baker — at least represent value-for-talent and warranted Round 1 selections.
The Raiders’ anachronistic selections (including selecting a dime-a-dozen position player with a pick they received in trade for All-Everything Khalil Mack) could be a byproduct of the apparent lack of trust that Oakland head coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock had in their scouting staff. With no one else but the two steering the franchise’s ship, they veered well off the established course. Does it take the team into an iceberg? Maybe; maybe not. But it’s clear that their embarrassment of draft riches left them the most embarrassing team after Round 1.
The Giants could certainly have done better. The Jones pick, in particular, seems already doomed to failure. But at least their other two Round 1 picks were spent on quality defenders. The Raiders seem tethered to an old line of thinking, and their judgement deserves more scrutiny than New York’s, despite the Giants employing Dave Gettleman, one of the worst general managers in the league. After Thursday night, though, Mayock is already challenging for that crown.