The Las Vegas Raiders certainly have an NFL Draft type. We’ve known that for a while—the team famously covets speed above all else.
In the last two NFL Drafts under Mike Mayock, another distinct trend has emerged. The team loves to take guys from two programs in particular: Alabama and Clemson. Those two teams obviously share a lot of history.
The Crimson Tide and Tigers have faced off in three national title games and another College Football Playoff semifinal in recent years. If you were a star player in that final title game, there’s a good chance you’re a Las Vegas Raider now. Seven players from that game have been taken by the Raiders since last year.
Last year, Mayock and Jon Gruden took Clemson DL Clelin Ferrell and Alabama RB Josh Jacobs in the first round. They added Clemson cornerback Trayvon Mullen in the second and receiver Hunter Renfrow in the fifth. Things have continued this year, with Alabama’s Henry Ruggs III, Clemson’s Tanner Muse, and now, Clemson guard John Simpson.
Raiders select another former Clemson Tiger, this time guard John Simpson. Raiders now have eight players on their current roster from the Clemson-Alabama National Title game. https://t.co/1IfEh7wvqU
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 25, 2020
Lester Cotton Sr. is also a former Alabama player. He didn’t go in the 2019 NFL Draft, but was signed as an undrafted free agent by the team, and played in the Week 16 game against the Los Angeles Chargers last year.
Simpson isn’t included in Schefter’s tweet, as he just went in the fourth round moments ago.
There are jokes to be made here, but honestly, focus firing on top players from elite, championship-caliber teams may not be the worst strategy. We’ve seen plenty of Tigers and Tide players thrive in the NFL, while other teams pass on players who seem like obvious stars from their time in college (see: Deshaun Watson).
We know these young Raiders won’t shy away from the bright lights, if the team starts to become competitive.
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