INDIANAPOLIS – Rashan Gary met with the Raiders Thursday evening here at the NFL Scouting Combine. Head coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock were in the room, hoping to gain some insight on a freak athlete many consider a top-5 NFL draft pick.
Gary could sense their intensity right away, and tried to match it. When the Raiders conceded edge rusher is a major question mark, Gary confidently said he's the answer.
"I expressed that I'm that person for them," Gary said Saturday.
Trading Khalil Mack to Chicago and letting Bruce Irvin walk at midseason created a huge void in the Raiders pass rush, which ranked dead last with 13 sacks. Astonishingly, 11 individuals had as many or more.
Mack got close, with 12.5. Gary believes he can generate heat on the quarterback, but won't try to fill Mack's shoes.
"My goal is to be the best person I can be," Gary said. "If I get the opportunity to be a Raider, I'm going to be the best player for them and that organization and the city."
The Raiders could use the No. 4 overall pick to find help along the defensive front, as well as a few other picks down the draft board.
That's why they're interviewing so many elite prospects at the combine. That list includes Ohio State's Nick Bosa, Alabama's Quinnen Williams and Florida State's Brian Burns. Kentucky's Josh Allen wasn't sure of his schedule, but said the Raiders should be on the docket.
Several more are surely part of the 60 interviews allotted each team here at the NFL combine, as the Raiders decide which players fit best and what pick they're worth.
The Raiders like Bosa, viewed as the best pass rusher in this draft, though it's unlikely he'll make it to No. 4 overall.
They love Williams' upside, demeanor and versatility, and it seems unlikely they'd pass him up if he's available when they're on the clock.
There are some questions about Gary, an athletic freak who will wow at the combine but didn't produce great numbers at Michigan. He had just 9.5 sacks in three seasons, with only 3.5 last year while battling through injury.
Gary can be an excellent player, but some sources this week expressed concern he takes some plays off and isn't always motivated. When teams ask him that question, Gary has a quick response.
"When it comes to self-motivating, it's my will to be great," Gary said. "I know my capabilities, I know what I'm capable of, and I want to be great now. Whatever team drafts me is going to get a person that wants to come into the organization and be great right now. I want to be a Pro Bowler, I want to be a Hall of Famer, I want to be a Super Bowl champion, so they're going to get that attitude right away."
By selecting Gary, they would get an edge rusher thrilled to play alongside an old friend. Former Michigan defensive tackle Maurice Hurst joined the Raiders in last year's fifth round, and was hands down their best rookie performer.
Hurst reached out to Gary recently with some combine advice, and a good showing here could aid a possible Raiders destination if the draft falls a certain way.
"Man, if I had the opportunity to be a Raider, I love it," Gary said. "I miss my man Mo. I would love playing with him again. If I get the opportunity to, that would be good."