Since joining the Raiders in 2012, Reggie McKenzie has had a rollercoaster ride as a talent evaluator when it comes to the NFL Draft. In his first go-round in 2012, he was left with just six picks — all of which were in the third round and later. Of the six picks, none could be considered a success with only Tony Bergstrom still on the roster four seasons later — and he is nothing more than a career backup.
In 2013, McKenzie got his first chance to really make a dent with 10 total picks (after trading down in the first round). Unfortunately, while the results were better than the previous year, they remain mixed — and it all began with first round pick DJ Hayden.
Hayden, who McKenzie said he would have drafted at No. 3 had they stayed there (I suppose the GM would say this about anyone), has been nothing short of a massive disappointment. The same could be said of his other three picks in the first four rounds — Menelik Watson (who has struggled due to injuries), Sio Moore, and Tyler Wilson. The back half of this draft was salvaged by Latavius Murray, Mychal Rivera and Stacy McGee — all of whom have met or exceeded expectations for the slot in which they were drafted.
Fortunately for Raider fans, 2014 and 2015 were massive improvements for McKenzie. Highlighted by Khalil Mack, Derek Carr, Amari Cooper, Mario Edwards Jr., Gabe Jackson, Justin Ellis, TJ Carrie, Shelby Harris and Clive Walford among others, McKenzie brought in some much needed talent.
But just one thing remained mostly missing: defensive backs.
Now, as I wrote about earlier this week, defensive backs are among the most risky position groups to select — so it's not all McKenzie's fault. The problem for Mckenzie, though, is that the Raiders really need some new defensive backs.
TJ Carrie was a marginally successful pick that has been hurt by the fact he's been forced to move around the defensive backfield to fill holes, but Hayden, Keith McGill and Dexter McDonald all remain question marks (at best).
So, this question remains: should Reggie McKenzie be taking a defensive back in Round 1? According to our mock draft database, 13 out of 20 mock drafts have the Raiders selecting a defensive back at pick No. 14. Can Oakland afford to take a chance with a risky position group (and one McKenzie has struggled with personally) at such a critical juncture?
For me, the answer is to solve this problem in free agency. Take your mountains of cash and find a few defensive backs that have proven they can play at the professional level in order to use the draft on safer positions more within your wheelhouse.
Apparently, however, the experts (for now) disagree.