When the Raiders take on the Detroit Lions Sunday in Oakland, running back Josh Jacobs will play a prominent role.
So will defensive end Maxx Crosby, cornerback Trayvon Mullen, fullback Alec Ingold and wide receiver Hunter Renfrow.
In fact, all those players – taken in this spring’s NFL draft – are part of the Raiders’ rebuilding process under head coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock. They've been a big part of the team’s three victories, just one less than the team had in all of 2018.
Jacobs, a first-round pick from Alabama, was just selected as the AFC Offensive Rookie of the Month for October. This month he’s rushed for 313 yards and two touchdowns, including two 100-yard games, and also has eight catches.
So far, Jacobs is the jewel of a shining draft class, one that this week was ranked the NFL’s second best by analyst Chris Wesseling of NFL.com, who ranked only the Jacksonville Jaguars (who have quarterback Gardner Minshew and defensive end Josh Allen as high-impact rookies) as having a better first-year group.
While starting defensive end Clelin Ferrell — Oakland’s No. 1 pick — hasn’t had the impact the Raiders had hoped, Crosby has been even better than expected, and forms with Ferrell a young tandem at the ends of the defensive line with a ton of potential. The Raiders’ other first-rounder, safety Johnathan Abram, is out for the year after a strong preseason, with a shoulder injury but should come back strong in 2020.
Mullen, a second-rounder, is now starting, as are Ingold and Renfrow. And tight end Foster Moreau is also making plays. Cornerback Isaiah Johnson has been injured, but is expected to get playing time as the season moves into its second half.
Wesseling calls Jacobs the "showpiece" of this class who’s been "the tone-setter on a surprisingly effective offense."
The 3-4 Raiders will take on the 3-3-1 Lions Sunday in Oakland at 1:05 p.m.