Jon Gruden 'Still Sensitive' About Khalil Mack Trade, Says He's Hard to Replace

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistFebruary 28, 2019

Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden speaks during a press conference at the NFL football scouting combine, Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Darron Cummings/Associated Press

Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said Thursday that he is "still sensitive" about the trade that sent superstar pass-rusher Khalil Mack to the Chicago Bears prior to last season.

According to Matt Schneidman of Bay Area News Group, Gruden suggested that while trading Mack wasn't an ideal situation, he is excited to make the most of the draft capital Oakland received in return: "It's hard to replace a guy like that. It's sensitive. I'm still sensitive about it ... I do know this: my brother [Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden] didn't get anything for Kirk Cousins except a compensatory pick. At least we got some picks. We got a chance to do something with them."

In exchange for Mack, the Raiders received first- and sixth-round picks in 2019, as well as first- and third-round picks in 2020.

The trade paid immediate dividends for Chicago, as Mack registered 47 tackles, 12.5 sacks, six forced fumbles and one interception returned for a touchdown in 14 games. The Bears also went on to win the NFC North with a 12-4 record.

Without the four-time Pro Bowler, three-time First Team All-Pro and one-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Oakland struggled mightily last season, as it finished 4-12. The Raiders also ranked last in the NFL with just 13 sacks, which was 17 fewer than the next-closest team.

While losing Mack hurt in the short term, the Raiders are better positioned than any other NFL team to make a major impact in the 2019 draft.

The Raiders own three first-round picks, including their own at No. 4 overall. They also have the Bears' pick at No. 24 and the Dallas Cowboys' pick at No. 27, which they acquired in the trade that sent wide receiver Amari Cooper to Dallas.

Additionally, Oakland has the third pick in the second round at No. 35 overall, meaning the Raiders can either move up or use all four picks to potentially select four new starters for 2019 and beyond.

The Raiders have a lot of holes to fill on both sides of the ball, and while they likely won't be able to address all of them effectively in the draft, they have a chance to become much better than they were in 2018.

Specifically replacing Mack is a nearly impossible task given his status as one of the best pass-rushers in the NFL, but since the 2019 class is stocked with quality edge-rushers, Oakland could potentially find his replacement at No. 4 in the form of Ohio State's Nick Bosa, Kentucky's Josh Allen or Clemson's Clelin Ferrell.

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