MOBILE, Ala. -- All week at the Senior Bowl, Jon Gruden spoke of the inherent advantage his Oakland Raiders' staff held by coaching one side of the 100-player all-star game.
By doing more than just scout the North team from afar, Gruden, his coaches, new general manager Mike Mayock and his scouts could literally get their hands on players.
And sometimes, as Gruden said, it's just as beneficial to erase a player's name from consideration as it is to add him. There might have been four or five players in this game that will go in the first round. It's hard to see any of them going No. 4 overall, but the Raiders have three first-round picks. Could any of them go at No. 24 or No. 27? Now we're talking.
According to ESPN Stats & Information data, over the past 10 years -- during which time there were 20 Senior Bowl head coaches -- 19 coaches drafted at least one player from the Senior Bowl in which they were involved. And 16 of the 20 drafted multiple players from that year's Senior Bowl. Top picks weren't particularly common, as only three of the 20 took a Senior Bowl player in the first round, but there were 23 instances of a player being taken by his Senior Bowl coach in the third and fourth rounds.
"It's the fourth time that I've coached it, and it is an advantage, I think, because the pool of players every year is what it is," Gruden said. "So, we've drafted players from this game before, I'm sure we'll do that again."
If the Raiders decide to pick a player from the Senior Bowl, it doesn't sound like they'll look at quarterback early. Mayock said in his New Year's Eve introductory news conference that he still needed to do a deep dive on Oakland quarterback Derek Carr, but it appears as though Mayock has his answer.
"When you look at 32 teams in this league ... there aren't 32 starting quarterbacks, yet we have one of them," Mayock told a group of Raiders beat writers in Mobile. "He's a starting quarterback in the NFL. He can make every throw.
"We've got to do a better job of protecting him and giving him weapons. He played with two rookie tackles last year. We need to get more speed on offense. We need to be more dynamic. Derek Carr, at this point, is kind of the least of our problems."
And with that, here are five players the Raiders coached on the North team at the Senior Bowl that they could be interested in come the draft -- plus two bonus players from the South team.
Texas DE Charles Omenihu (6-foot-5, 274 pounds): The Raiders need a pass-rusher, and after an up-and-down week in practice, Omenihu was a force in the Senior Bowl, registering a sack, a forced fumble and a quarterback hit to go with three tackles. Physically, he looked to be a bigger Arden Key. Omenihu had 9.5 sacks last season; the Raiders had 13 sacks as a team.
Boston College DE Zach Allen (6-foot-4, 280 pounds): Many were expecting Josh Allen to command the most attention at the Senior Bowl, but the Kentucky outside linebacker -- who is expected to be a top-5 pick -- chose to skip the event. So, the spotlight shifted to another Allen. The Boston College edge rusher picked up a roughing the passer penalty in the third quarter and, well, that was it after a nondescript week of practice. He had a combined 16.5 sacks over his last three seasons at Boston College.
Delaware safety Nasir Adderley (5-foot-11, 195 pounds): The Raiders need a playmaking safety to add to the Erik Harris-Karl Joseph mix, and the small-school stud looks like a late first-rounder. Adderley followed a tremendous week of practice (a pick-six in practice against Duke QB Daniel Jones) with an interception of Buffalo's Tyree Jackson and a team-high four solo tackles in the game. Adderley had 11 total picks his last three years of college.
UMass WR Andrew Isabella (5-foot-8, 186 pounds): He has been labeled a mini-Julian Edelman and, boy, is Isabella fast. He was named the North's MVP (Duke's Jones was the game's MVP) after catching a game-high seven passes for 74 yards, including a 19-yard catch-and-run TD from Jones, and running the ball once for 14 yards. Gruden gushed about Isabella, who caught 102 passes for 1,698 yards and 13 TDs as a senior.
Kansas State OL Dalton Risner (6-foot-4½, 305 pounds): Is Risner a guard or a tackle, though? The Raiders' interior O-line is a strength, and Kolton Miller and Brandon Parker were rookies on the outside. Gruden took a shine to Risner, chest-bumping him after he won a one-on-one challenge to end Thursday's practice. "Coach Gruden doesn't like guys who are soft," Risner said. "He wants tough-asses." So there.
And two bonus South players, since the Raiders swapped rosters with San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan and his staff on Friday night for 90 minutes.
Mississippi State DE Montez Sweat (6-foot-6, 252 pounds): Listed as ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay's No. 4 defensive end, Sweat avoided media interviews last week the way he does offensive tackles in games. Still, he had just one assist in the Senior Bowl. This after transferring from Michigan State and racking up 22.5 sacks over two seasons at Mississippi State. Can't see him at No. 4, but can't see him still being there at No. 24, either.
South Carolina WR Deebo Samuel (5-foot-11, 216 pounds): The Raiders need speed and a true No. 1 receiver, and Samuel seems more complementary piece than early first-rounder -- but he was lighting up practice during the week. In the game, he had just one catch for 15 yards and returned a punt for 13 yards and a kickoff for 25 yards. He had 62 catches for 882 yards and 11 TDs last fall.