Over the years the Oakland Raiders became synonymous with Al Davis. He was one of the most prolific owners in the NFL and one of the things he was best known for was his ability to evaluate talent. He acted as the teams general manager and it was no secret that he was the final word when it came to personnel decisions. At first, that worked out great because he had a real eye for talent, especially aging veterans that most others had given up on. However, over the years his ability to get the right amount of talent on the team faltered and the Raiders on-field performance suffered because of it.
In the modern NFL any team that hopes to have a shot at continued success needs to be a master of the salary cap and the draft. Because the salary cap acts a restraint teams need to be able to find solid, undervalued talent to fill out there roster. This is best accomplished through the draft. Bill Belichik once famously said, "A No. 1 overall pick can really hamstring a franchise." The Raiders put up a lot of poor records in recent years which left them with high draft picks. High draft picks that didn't pan out means there was a lot of money tied up in very little production. They have just started to really turn the corner and bring the team back to glory and Reggie McKenzie continued on the path to success with a strong draft this weekend.
McKenzie showed another card in his hand of just exactly how he plans to turn the Raiders into Super Bowl contenders. To address the quarterback situation, in the short-term, he went out in the off season and added Matt Schaub to the lineup. Some questions are definitely floating around about Schaub after last year, but he will definitely be an upgrade under center from Day 1. To address that same need long-term, the team picked up Derek Carr.
Offense wasn't their only need. With their first selection in the draft the Raiders picked up Khalil Mack from Buffalo. He is going to be a huge addition for the Raiders on defense. He is physically and athletically as gifted as anyone in the league. At Buffalo they used him in a multitude of ways; he can drop into coverage, hold the edge well against the run, chase the play down on the weak side and also rush the passer. That's going to play right into Oakland's game plan because they're a team that likes to use a variety of formations to keep their opponent guessing. He also has a motor that never stops, a great work ethic and he has the ability to become part of a core of young players a team could build around.
Derek Carr has the ability to be the steal of the draft. You usually don't hear that about a guy that went in the second round, but he could turn out to be the best QB of the draft. He has the ability to make every throw necessary in the NFL. He also possesses very good accuracy, quick decision making and a quick release. He comes from a football family, his older brother was the 1st overall selection by the Houston Texans in 2002, and that has definitely helped his game IQ. With him already having so much exposure to reading NFL defenses I don't think his adapting period will be as long as the average player. Once he gets used to the speed of the game, look out. He may play in the second half of this year and will almost definitely start game one next season.
I'm really happy with the way the Raiders are going. McKenize seems to be stocking the roster with players who have the talent to take this team to the next level. For too long we were the laughing stock of the league with our rotating cast of characters at coach and the track stars who couldn't play football that we took high in the draft. But those days appear to be over. In no time at all we should be back to Just Winning, baby.