Nobody expected the Oakland Raiders to be as good as they've been thus far into the 2019 NFL season. They currently sit at 6-4 and are tied with the Kansas City Chiefs for the best record in the AFC West.
A lot of the Raiders success can be attributed to the production of their rookie class, which means we have to give credit to the coach and GM who selected them.
The Raiders' first-year players have made key contributions on both sides of the ball. Offensively, Josh Jacobs has become the team's workhorse running back. Slot receiver Hunter Renfrow and tight end Foster Moreau have made the most of their limited touches, and even fullback Alec Ingold has made an impact in the running game.
Oakland's rookies on defense have also been impressive, especially on the defensive line.
Many people gave the Raiders a lot of grief for reaching for Clelin Ferrell in the 2019 NFL draft, and he hasn't exactly set the world on fire, but he has been solid. Maxx Crosby, the Raiders' fourth-round pick, has been nothing short of sensational, already racking up 6.5 sacks across 10 games, though he only started seeing more than 50% of defensive snaps in Week 4.
The future looks bright for the Raiders. Perhaps we were too quick to judge Gruden after a forgettable first year, because the culture he is building seems to be leading to wins.
It's starting to look like Antonio Brown forcing his way out of Oakland was a blessing in disguise.