Raiders had 3 1st-round picks in 2019, didn't pick up 5th-year option on any of them
In the afterglow of the NFL draft, everyone thinks their team's rookie class will work out great. If you have multiple first-round picks, the sky is the limit. Just wait until the optimistic draft grades for each of those teams that picked more than once in the first round on Thursday.
It would be great if the NFL was that easy. The Las Vegas Raiders know it's not.
In 2019, the Raiders had just traded edge rusher Khalil Mack and receiver Amari Cooper, but they were awash in first-round picks. They had three of them to use. Those picks were going to be the foundation of a new era.
And they went 0-for-3, an admission they made Friday when they declined fifth-year options on all three of those picks.
Raiders decline options
The Raiders' first pick in that draft was Clemson defensive end Clelin Ferrell, a controversial pick because most draft analysts didn't have Ferrell rated that high. Then came Alabama running back Josh Jacobs with the 24th pick and Mississippi State safety Johnathan Abram with the 27th pick.
Ferrell was supposed to be a great two-way end, Jacobs a dynamic back and Abram a tone-setter in the secondary. Jacobs has been solid but unspectacular. Ferrell has eight sacks in 42 games and didn't start a game last season. Abram was a starter last season but his issues in coverage have held him back.
The Raiders didn't pick up the fifth-year option on any of the three players.
— Las Vegas Raiders (@Raiders) April 29, 2022
It's a reminder, as the NFL draft nears its second day, that not all picks are going to work out as planned.
Raiders were excited for multiple picks
Declining a fifth-year option doesn't mean a player won't go on to a great career. But if a team believes in a player it picks up the option.
This current Raiders braintrust didn't have anything to do with the three picks. That was the combination of Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock. They're both gone, another reminder that the optimism of draft day can fade quickly. But that night, the Raiders were excited.
"Whether you want to admit it, or people like it or not, we're building our team," Gruden said, via NFL.com. "We need building blocks. We have some in place, and we needed these three first-rounders to come in here and inherit that responsibility."
It didn't work. On the flip side of the high-profile trades that netted those first-round picks, Mack was just traded by the Bears and the Cowboys traded Cooper this offseason. Things move fast in the NFL.
Teams were excited for every pick that was made on Thursday night. They see the ceiling and potential for each player. It will work out great for some of those picks. But far from all of them.