ALAMEDA, Calif. – Tongues wagged, a fight challenge was issued and more than a few observers wondered whether the Oakland Raiders would draft an electric, if undersized, playmaking quarterback.
All, really, because Raiders coach Jon Gruden praised reigning Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray … before the former Oklahoma QB chose to enter the NFL draft and after signing with major league baseball’s Oakland Athletics.
At last month’s Senior Bowl, Gruden had merely been asked in a media session if he thought the traditional measurables for quarterbacks coming out of college were a thing of the past, what with so many smaller signal-callers experiencing success in the NFL.
He said he had been a traditionalist.
“Then I met Russell Wilson [5-11] coming out of NC State, and now I’m watching this kid Murray at Oklahoma. I am putting away all the prototypes that I once had. I used to have a prototype for hand size, height, arm length, all that stuff. We’re looking for guys that can play and do a lot of different things. And they come in all shapes and sizes nowadays.”
That was one theory.
The challenge for fisticuffs? That was thrown down by Carr and aimed at ESPN’s Max Kellerman, who questioned Carr’s desire to play, so the quarterback took to social media to ask UFC boss Dana White to set up a bout.
@ufc @danawhite hey how do I challenge a couple of these clowns on tv to a fight? I think we should start a business together. Where pro athletes can challenge some of these people to an octagon fight until they give us an answer.... You don't know me... stop lying.— Derek Carr (@derekcarrqb) January 23, 2019
Oh, and that was before Carr’s base salary of $19.9 million for 2019 became fully guaranteed on Feb. 6, per ESPN Stats & Information.
So how does Murray’s decision to enter the NFL draft affect the Raiders’ plans at No. 4 overall?
Gruden might have been sincere when he gave props to Murray (Gruden also loves Case Keenum, who had a QBR of 46.9 for the Denver Broncos, for what it’s worth), but keep in mind that pumping up Murray to elevate his draft stock could also set up a trade out of that fourth slot.
Consider what new Raiders general manager Mike Mayock told Raiders reporters in Mobile, Alabama: “If you have a cluster of guys at [No. 4] that you want and you don’t like them, you probably need to get out. Why take a guy you don’t love? Sometimes you get stuck, it happens. … A lot of it is common sense -- if you want to go get a guy, go get him. But for the most part, if you can move down and pick up extra picks, that’s a good thing, too.”
And there it is.
The Raiders’ biggest draft need is an elite edge rusher after finishing last in the NFL with 13 sacks (Khalil Mack had 12.5 for the Chicago Bears), and what if, say, Ohio State’s Nick Bosa, Kentucky’s Josh Allen and Clemson’s Clelin Ferrell are taken in the first three picks? And what if the Raiders were absolutely in love with the trio, did not “like” the “cluster” on their draft board for the fourth overall selection and QB-needy teams like the New York Giants (No. 6), Miami Dolphins (No. 13) and Washington (No. 16) believed the Raiders had real interest in Murray, or loved Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins? What if Miami or Washington simply wanted to leapfrog the Giants for the chance to grab a quarterback?
Now we’re talking.
The Raiders already have 10 picks, including three first-rounders and four in the first 35. Trading down from No. 4 if they aren't sold on the players available at that spot would arm the Raiders with more assets in their rebuild before heading to Las Vegas in 2020.
Speaking of future homes …
Reports have the Raiders closing in on an agreement to play this season at the Oakland Coliseum, while Raiders owner Mark Davis has continually told ESPN.com that when the team is ready to announce its home for 2019, it will.
If it happens, and the Raiders actually draft the 5-foot-10, 195-pound Murray, it would at least give him a chance to play at the Oakland Coliseum, much to the chagrin of baseball’s A’s, who used the No. 9 overall pick on Murray last June to draft the outfielder.
We're excited that you're an Oakland Athletic too! 😎 pic.twitter.com/ZFJF4A9nx5— Oakland Athletics 🌳🐘⚾️ (@Athletics) June 15, 2018
Too soon? Start the wagging tongues again. Just don’t fight about it.