Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie said recently, he felt more pressure to draft well this year because of the praise he has received lately for having drafted the likes of Khalil Mack, Amari Cooper, and Derek Carr.
Much of that pressure comes not from the successes of late, but the failings of his first two drafts as Raiders GM. But like most things, this is a ‘what have you done for me lately' business. And in that regard, McKenzie has since made up for any poor reviews he got early on - much of which was due to not having his own scouts along with not having original draft picks in each of the first three round of his first Raiders draft in 2012.
This progress was noted in conference call with NFL Media's Mike Mayock Friday.
"I think Reggie's an interesting conversation, and I was looking at his draft the other day. His first two drafts I thought were somewhat suspect. If you go back to his 2012 draft, I'm not even sure there is a guy on the team left from 2012. 2013 was the Latavius Murray draft, D.J. Hayden hasn't played well. Menelik Watson's been hurt. So the first two drafts I thought were suspect.
"I thought the last two have been outstanding. The core of their team with 2014 with Mack, and Carr, [Gabe] Jackson, [Justin] Ellis, they hit their first four. I mean, that was fantastic.
"I mean, you come into last year and they've got more play makers. Cooper on the outside, Mario Edwards, the guy that can rush, the tight end for Miami. Watford, I think. He's a play maker.
"So he also I thought missed a little bit in free agency early on. He tried to sign some older guys who are no longer with the roster. Now he signs a 26, almost 27-year-old Kelechi Osemele, Bruce Irvin, young, edge rusher. 29-year-old Sean Smith.
"So I look at Reggie McKenzie and say I see a guy growing into a really high-level general manager, and you can see it in his drafts and you can see it in free agency."
The NFL draft is just five days away. McKenzie and the Raiders will attempt to keep the momentum going, both of his drafting success, as well as the team on the field heading into the fifth season under the new regime.