Raiders general manager, Reggie McKenzie had his pre-draft press conference. Here is what he had to say about the Raiders draft plans this year.
Good evening, everyone, welcome to Alameda. Appreciate you guys taking the time out and try to cover this Raiders team here. You know around this time of year, I really don't like to talk a whole lot to you guys, because you guys love information and you know I'm not going to give it to you. I really want to, but the other 31 teams would have a field day and I don't think I want to let that happen. With that being said, let's talk about this Raider team and where we're going.
Getting action from teams wanting to move up?
"We're just feeling around right now. Nothing is concrete but people are just, peripheral conversations."
How do you weigh whether to take that pick at No. 3 as opposed to trading it and maybe getting back into the 2nd round?
"It's whichever deal is going to help the Raiders the most and if it's staying there and taking the pick, we'll weigh that versus what's on the floor, what's being offered. In some cases, the offer may be too good to pass up. So, that's going to depend, it really will."
You use the chart of the value of the picks to help decide?
"All of the above. You go, when you're making the trade, of course you defer to the chart but really it's, What's your gut telling you, what you would take, if you don't stay with that pick. So yes, it's definitely going to depend on who's there, will factor in, major."
Safe to say you're not calling other teams to trade out, that other teams are actually calling you?
"Exactly. That's safe to say."
Players move up/down draft board--how much of that is true and how much Media hype?
"Personally, I would think, most of it is media hype because some of these so-called "insiders" are talking to certain personnel people and coaches and they get information which a lot of times I think (like) this time, it's not truthful, so you have to take that with a grain a salt. You just stay true to what you have on your board and you know, and I am sure every team is doing that."
How much do you weigh that once you are on the clock the deals have dried up or more teams are desperate to trade as time ticks away?
"Well, I'm not going to worry about it. We're picking 3rd and when our time comes we're going to make the best decision for the Raiders. I'm not going to worry too much about 1 and 2 are doing. Of course, they've got first and second choice and we get the third choice. And who they like compared to who we like, nobody knows. We'll just sit there and wait, and we're not going to worry about the others."
When do you get to the point where the roster reflects your personality and staff's personality and philosophy?
"Well, the totality of it, that's going to be ongoing. It started when I got here, to be honest with you, what I had to do with the roster. So when do you see it start its transformation? Hopefully this season. That's my hope. So you've got a good offseason and another draft and things that come into place. You've got a new coaching staff, as far as four coaches that we swapped out. So, hopefully, it begins to show this year."
How do you balance input from scouts who have followed these guys for years versus coaches, who haven't followed them as long?
"You take into account a whole lot of what the scouts tell you. That's the way I've been taught and that's the way I believe is the right way to do it. You get the input from not only the coaches, but my in-house scouts also, and you're talking about comparing and contrasting, with our own personnel, personnel around the league, to determine the value of the player, what the player can and can't do in this league. You value all information, but the information that the scouts give us, that information is vital."
You have your own scouting department in place, last year you did not, what difference does that make, to have a guy like Shaun Herock there who you worked with for 19 years?
"That's what it is, it's a commonality of it. It's not who can do this and who can do that, because some of the guys that were here last year, they were good. But it's good, the guys I brought on board, there is a common denominator in that we know each other and we know what each other likes. We know the type of player that it would take to not only to win, but to produce at each position. The conversations probably are quicker, trying to get a feel for what Shaun is explaining to me on a particular player, I kind of know the kind of player he likes. From that standpoint, it's easier."
In trading down, how much do you weigh the need of an impact player?
"I would think every team needs an impact player at some point. Yes, we do weigh the importance of trying to find an impact player."
How do you differentiate that, are you drafting for need, or best player available?
"Well, the key is drafting the best player. I don't think you can draft for need, especially in the first round. I think you draft the best player, try to fill that need down the line. You can't do that."
Do you look at player who is best at particular position or being so unsettled is versatility valued?
"Versatility will, but if he's versatile, and not great at anything, that versatility is average. You don't want that. I want to try and get someone here who can change the game. That's a difference maker. No matter what position., If he can make a difference, that's the one you want. Instead of a solid, versatile player versus a difference-maker? You take the difference-maker."
You have to act like you want every single player if they fall to you. Is that sometimes hard to put on the act that you want everybody there?
"Ah, the poker face. It is because it's obvious that you like certain players more than others. You can go and ask every scout in the room and you'd probably get a favorite player that differs from the other. But that's the fun part of this job is trying to get all those opinions and come to a common goal to choose one."
With all the changes on the roster and the well publicized dead money you have, there's a perception out there that this is almost an expansion. Is it realistic that this team could compete this year and do what you need now and what you need in the future pull against each other?
"I don't think so. We're trying to compete now. How does that result will depend on the players' performance on the field, but we're trying to add players that can help this team win, help this team compete. We're going into this season to win ball games. Now, you can call it expansion, it's a lot of different faces, I agree with that but to say that we're just gonna take our lumps and play ball, that's not the goal here. The goal here is to compete each and every week and win games. We'll see how that goes from training camp on, but the start is now. The moves that we had to make, we made them and we will continue to make them through training camp."
Do you evaluate college players the same way you do veteran free agents in terms of searching for high-character guys?
"Guys, we all have issues, even the guys that we've signed. We've got some guys with issues. The deal is, we want some guys that want to play for the Raiders. We want some guys that are going to work, that are going to do everything they can to be the best football player. So, when you talk about football character, you show up, on time, and you work as hard as you can and, when it's time to leave the building, you're going to make sure that you're able to be back the next day ready to go to work and trying to make this team a better team. They got to be about the team. We want guys that understand that, somebody that is smart, tough standpoint. That's what we want. We want some guys that are football players, not wannabes. There's a whole lot wannabes. They look the part and they think they're the guy, but they're not willing to do the work. That's not going to help us win."
Are you going to super aggressive in targeting undrafted free agents again, casting a wide net, finding a gem or two like Streater?
"Or three. Yes."
Do you have veteran players that the guys with issues latch on to?
"I think so. We got a couple, yeah. Do we have the ideal group yet? Probably not. Because of the turnover, you still got guys trying to kind of fill their roles on the team now, trying to figure out who the guy in the locker is next to him. But once that's all in place, yes, we feel like we got a handful of guys that can help that situation. Absolutely."
Do you have a pretty fair idea of which player you're going to get at No. 3?
What did you learn from your first draft as the general manager?
"Try to keep your first-round pick. It will be more fun on Thursday when you got one. With the preparation part of it, anytime when you're in the first year of something and everything is new, I'm trying to get a feel for all the scouts, I'm trying to get a feel for all the coaches and the system. It was trying to get a feel for everyone, even the players, the current (players), the team, the status of the team. Much better grasp of all of those going into this draft. I feel much more at ease to where we are and who I have in that room feeding me information."
Do you want to put your team together by finding home-grown talent?
"Absolutely. When you get guys that play together for a while, that's how you not only develop a core, but you develop that chemistry at each and every position. And that's how you win games in the fourth quarter, you overcome adversity. That's how you become a champion. In doing that, you have to draft well. When you add certain players, they've got to mesh. So, yes, you want to build a team that way."
So when you do have all this cap space next year, you won't go on a spending spree?
"I'm not going to Macy's. We'll be selective and we'll try to continue to draft well and keep the players. That's the key. When you've got the cap space and all of that to resign your good players, that's what you want to do. We don't want to let our good players from this year get out of the building."
Is this year a down year for quarterbacks since no Cal QB is expected to be selected?
"Well, I don't see Andrew Luck or RG. Guys are beating up this class and you're going to get some solid quarterbacks from this class. We can get spoiled by certain classes. I'm not one to beat this one because there are going to be some players that surprise you."
Evaluate defensive players differently because of the read option, spread offense and such offenses?
"From the spread option standpoint? Not necessarily for those types of offenses. Now throwing the football, for these quarterbacks that can throw it, you're going to have to look at it from the defensive backfield standpoint. From nickel defense to pressuring the passer, you've got to make sure you perfect that game. you don't see as many power running teams, that will run the ball consistently. So you're looking for guys who can get to the passer."
Do the new rules about the crown of the helmet force you to look at selecting defenders differently?
"No, not really. You're talking with that rule change, it's not going to be - you can teach these defensive backs how to tackle. Not many of them try to spear guys. I think we're kind of doing it a little bit. As a defensive player I think those guys want to run through them with their shoulder, especially in the open field."
How did being on the field for the Senior Bowl and combine help?
"A great deal, a great deal. Any time you get to sit and have dinner with a group of players and watch them play video games and just listen to them fraternize among each other you get to kid around with them and their guard is down. Other than being in a combine setting when they know a million interviews are going on and they'll be on their Ps and Qs. Not saying they weren't on their Ps and Qs at the Senior Bowl but when they're around their teammates you can kind of see alittle bit more of the real them. I would do that again in a New York minute if they ask me. But I don't wish to be coaching in the Senior Bowl much. The timing wouldn't be right."
Better players from Ivy League?
"You can not only pinpoint the Ivy League but you can talk about a couple of these conferences that have some players that are not normally the teams that put a lot of players into the league. They go through spurts and have a couple. This year is no different for the Ivy League. There should be a couple of guys drafted at least from there."
Does the draft go too fast on the inside?
"It really doesn't. It doesn't go too slow but it's not too fast. The thing that goes fast is after the draft, the college free agency. That's a whirlwind now. But the draft, I like the process."
Even if a team has 13 picks like the Niners?
"No. It won't be. The thing is with those 13 picks is when you wheel and deal and try move those picks around and when you're doing a lot of things whether you move that to nine picks or you try to move it to some picks next year or however you decide to do it. That's where it becomes fast, when decisions have to be made."
Do you evaluate a guy like Tyrann Mathieu with your gut?
"Yeah. As far as him off the field, yeah. You just have to go with your gut. Right or wrong you went with your gut. Not with all of the he said, she said stuff. You got all the information in front of you. You interview and you talk with him and you go with it yay or nay. Whatever decision you make that's your decision. Make it."
Done a while ago?