Jon Gruden was the first coach to the podium at the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine on Thursday, and the Oakland Raiders head coach shared lasting impressions of the top quarterbacks in the upcoming draft.
The Raiders are visiting with most of the top-rated passers in the draft during 15-minute allotted interview times in the evening at the event, including Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray, Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins, Missouri’s Drew Lock and Duke’s Daniel Jones.
The Raiders pick fourth overall and also own the 24th and 27th picks in the first round via trade. Gruden quickly made it known the Raiders are eyeing trades, including getting to the No. 1 pick.
“Pretty attractive,” Gruden said of the first overall pick. “That’s why we’re here. To figure all that out.”
Gruden echoed general manager Mike Mayock’s statement Wednesday that the Raiders view quarterback Derek Carr as a franchise quarterback.
“He’s our franchise quarterback — let’s make that clear,” Gruden said.
Gruden said his father was involved in drafting a good professional baseball player who was played in the NFL — Bo Jackson — so he was compelled to ask Murray — three times — if he was “serious” his sport was football. Gruden said finding out whether players love the game and are physically healthy are the two priorities for him this week.
He said the quarterback’s height — measured at 5-10 1/8 at the combine — should not dissuade teams from drafting Murray. On Wednesday, Mayock said Murray was a player the scouting staff was “trying to figure out.”
“I think that’s been proven to not be as much of a factor as maybe it was years ago,” Gruden said, offering Drew Brees, Russell Wilson and Baker Mayfield — or, “the kid in Cleveland, as Gruden labeled him — as reasons to believe. “I don’t know that it’s a true impact on the position or the performance.”
Gruden said gamesmanship is not a factor when he offers his assessment of Murray. Reporters who regularly cover the team claim the franchise would prefer Haskins.
“People try to read between the lines. Some guy asked me a question at the Senior Bowl about Kyler Murray and all of a sudden ...,” Gruden said. “Honest to God, Jiminy Christmas. People will write whatever they want.”
Based on their prospect meetings Wednesday night, Gruden sounds as if he was wowed by two players — Haskins and Ole Miss wide receiver D.K. Metcalf.
Metcalf measured 6-3 3/8, 228 pounds and has a chiseled physique worthy of strongman competitions.
“He looked like Jim Brown. He’s the biggest receiver I’ve ever seen,” Gruden said.
Gruden, like Mayock, said Haskins has “all kinds of upside.”
“Great production — 50 touchdowns — great system,” he said.
—By Jeff Reynolds, Field Level Media