How Raiders Landed Josh Jacobs Shows Gruden/Mayock Synergy in NFL Draft

The NFL draft is clouded in secrecy, with each team preferring to keep its intensions strictly hush, hush. The Raiders made a concerted effort to keep their plans after last year's pre-draft leaks, yet their affinity for Josh Jacobs was common knowledge.

Head coach Jon Gruden wanted the Alabama running back in silver and black, with the No. 24 overall pick earmarked to get him.

There was high anxiety that wouldn't be enough. NBC Sports' Peter King reports in his latest Football Morning in America column that stress levels raised an octave, or five, when Philadelphia traded up from No. 25 to 22 in Thursday night's first round.

The Eagles were also known to covet Jacobs and, since the whole world knew about the Raiders' interest, there was great fear Philadelphia traded up to grab him.

Jets cooled considerably, King writes, when general manager Mike Mayock realized the Eagles weren't trying to get above the Raiders to steal Jacobs. They moved in front of Houston to steal offensive tackle Andre Dillard.

That allowed the Raiders to exhale and re-energize their excitement t landing Jacobs right at No. 24, where Mayock planned to get him.

King reports the Raiders had a chance to trade up to No. 16 and get Jacobs for sure but Mayock balked, insisting Jacobs could be secured without losing picks. Sure enough they landed Jacobs, one of three coveted first-round selections to end up in silver and black.

Clemson defensive end Clelin Ferrell came at No. 4, Jacobs at No. 24 and Mississippi State safety Johnathan Abram at No. 27, the last two exactly according to plan.

The Raiders were looking to trade out of the fourth pick -- with Nick Bosa and Quinnen Williams off the board in previous picks -- and still land Ferrell down the line. They never found a partner. King writes that Miami's No. 13 pick was the Raiders' trade-down limit, and that the phone simply didn't ring when they were on the clock.

Ferrell plus extra picks was the ideal scenario, but that flew out the window. The Raiders went with the guy they wanted, and took Ferrell right there at No. 4. They landed the 4-3 defensive end that fit their scheme, one with great character and work ethic to lead a defensive youth movement over the next several seasons.

Both of those instances showed Mayock's influence on the draft, exerting discipline that paid dividends in the Raiders NFL draft class. He had that effect during the Antonio Brown trade. It helped land extra picks on Day 2 with rat-a-tat trade downs without losing targeted Clemson cornerback Trayvon Mullen.

The Raiders navigated this NFL draft professionally, showing the Gruden/Mayock partnership is finding a real stride.

"He's well respected because of the amount of preparation he does," Gruden said. "And he's a great listener and a great teammate too. I think we both have a strong desire to get this franchise going again. It's an exciting time really because of the future of the Raiders and where we're heading, players that we're bringing in. It's a pretty cool experience with him."

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