Among the reasons why the Raiders have failed to break through since Jon Gruden returned as their head coach has been the failure of the team’s highest draft picks to succeed at the high levels one hopes to see from players selected so early in the process.
Two of those picks spent Wednesday talking about making that kind of impact in 2021. Defensive end Clelin Ferrell, who was the fourth pick in 2019, said he knows his work is “going to pay off” this year and safety Johnathan Abram, who went 27th that year, has a similar outlook.
Abram hurt his shoulder as a rookie and said it was a struggle coming back from that injury in an unusual offseason. That obstacle isn’t in place this year and Abram thinks it will lead to bigger and better things.
“I’m more than 100 percent, honestly,” Abram said, via Paul Gutierrez of ESPN.com. “I’m as strong as I’ve ever been. This year, [the goal is] just being more consistent. Playing under control. Not really taking that many wild hits, getting myself knocked out of the game [and] hurting my own body . . . being consistent, being disciplined and constantly just doing my job. Filling my grade sheet with ‘plusses’ every day. Then every Sunday, I think my game will blossom.”
Breakout years from both defenders would be a welcome development in Las Vegas this season while more of the same would raise more questions about the direction the franchise has chosen over the last few years.