Maybe the $100 million man really doesn’t run the show in Oakland.
As the Raiders prepare to face Chargers safety Derwin James, Raiders coach Jon Gruden claims that he wanted to draft James in April.
“We wanted to take Derwin James,” Gruden told reporters on Wednesday. “Everybody wanted Derwin James.”
So why didn’t the Raiders take Derwin James? Gruden blamed the inability to take James on the fact that the Raiders had used a first-round pick in 2016 on safety Karl Joseph, and that the Raiders used a second-round pick in 2017 on safety Obi Melifonwu. (In other words, “It was like that when I got here.”) But consider Gruden’s assessment of James, and ask yourself whether the presence of Joseph and Melifonwu should have really mattered.
“He’s an intimidating player, he is a physical presence,” Gruden said of James. “I think he’s got range to play deep, he’s got coverage ability. He can run through you, he can run around you, he can run right over you. He is a dynamite young player and he’ll be one of the building blocks in L.A. for a long time for the Chargers.”
He’ll be one of the building blocks unless he doesn’t sign a second contract with the Chargers. Although the NFL typically imposes punishment for tampering not just when the gun is smoking but when a bullet is seen exiting the muzzle, Gruden’s comments make it clear that the Raiders would be interested in getting James away from the Chargers at some point, if he can.