Watching Jon Gruden on the NFL Network is entertaining no matter what the guy does or says. With his constantly furrowed eyebrows and laser-like stares, he always seems like he's about to blow a gasket and scream angrily at one of his fellow panelists. The man just goes through life with a look on his face like he's seconds away from going postal.
But he works well as a television football analyst, and his insights are genuine. That's why it's notable when the man we called "Chucky" offers insights on the Raiders' NFL Draft strategy for Saturday. Gruden has been in that war room with Al Davis, and he knows how Oakland's unique decision-making structure operates. The Chronicle's Tom Fitzgerald writes today about a conference call with Gruden earlier this week, and Gruden seems convinced the Raiders should go wide receiver with their seventh overall first-round pick.
Gruden praised Raiders' quarterback JaMarcus Russell, saying his "ability to throw a football is rare." But he took the Raiders to task for not surrounding Russell with adequate receiver talent.
"(Johnnie Lee) Higgins was the top receiver with only 22 catches," Gruden observed of the Raiders 2008 campaign. "That's unheard of."
And he meant "unheard of" in a bad way.
If "Chucky" were still in charge, you can bet the Raiders would grab Missouri wide receiver Jeremy Maclin.
"Tell you who I like. The receiver at Missouri. Jeremy Maclin," Gruden said in his inimitable no-complete-sentences style in an NFL Combine segment still up on NFL.com. "Hundred catches. Forty rushes. He's a tremendous punt and kickoff returner, this guy does it all at Missouri."
NFL Drafts don't always go as planned, though, and the Raiders may see a talent like Texas Tech's Michael Crabtree fall to them. If so, let's hope Al Davis chucks this advice from his diminutive former coach.
Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who still insists that Katherine Heigl's greatest role was in "Bride of Chucky".