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Five takeaways from Jack Del Rio’s combine press conference

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Thursday morning, Jack Del Rio spoke at the scouting combine. While the most interesting thing he said was in regard to his new contract vs his old one, there were a few more tidbits that were of interest.

Del Rio not happy with losing a home game for a second straight year

Once again this season the Raiders will play a ‘home’ game in Mexico City. They pulled out a win last season on a slippery Azteca field and learned a thing or two in the process. While Del Rio says the experience was enjoyable overall, heading back there again this season for yet another home game irks Del Rio a bit.

“We had a good post-op review as well,” Del Rio said of the team’s Mexico City experience. “We’re not going to share any of that with you or with Coach Belichick. We loved the experience going down and playing in that environment. It was a great environment. Look forward to going down again. I would love it if somehow, the commissioner could make sure that every other year we have it as a road game and not always a home game for us. Don’t really look forward to playing nine road games and seven home games, so other than though, it was a tremendous experience and look forward to going down there and embracing it.”

Del Rio and Christian McCaffrey have history

Entering the draft this year is Stanford standout running back, Christian McCaffrey. He is projected as a late first round/early second round selection. So, if the Raiders are considering drafting him as a potential Latavius Murray replacement, they would likely have to make that selection at number 24.

“Christian McCaffrey is first of all, an amazing young man,” said Del Rio. “He and my son Luke played together at Valor Christian before he went on to Stanford so I’ve seen Christian. I heard the people question whether he’d be able to go from the high school level to the college level and now the questions will come out, ‘Can he go from the college game to the pro game?’ And I think you’re going to see the same thing. This guy is a great football player and I think he will have an impact in this league. It’s a great family. Lisa and Ed, really happy for them and their kids.”

You may recall the Raiders signed Christian’s brother Max as an undrafted free agent last offseason as a wide receiver out of Duke. Max didn’t make the team out of camp.

Connor Cook is the Raiders backup QB, but there will be competition

When asked if the Raiders have their backup QB on the roster, Del Rio didn’t hesitate. He said “Yes.” He then spoke at length about Connor Cook, not once mentioning Matt McGloin who is headed for free agency. Del Rio also said “It’s possible” they add a veteran QB to the roster to compete for that backup spot behind starter Derek Carr.

“I think for us, we want to develop Connor Cook first as our backup quarterback,” said Del Rio. “He’s the guy we know we have right now. There’s always competition in this league. I wouldn’t close the door there either and say that we wouldn’t make it competitive for him. But yeah, I mean, he did a pretty solid job developing throughout the year and I thought Todd did a great of that. Even though you’ll just look at the numbers and say, ‘What do you mean?’ we saw development throughout the year. Maturity, the way he prepares, the way conducts himself, all the little nuances of playing the position. So there was growth throughout the year. We want to continue to develop, continue to grow him, and we always have our eyes open and will consider other possible talents.”

Reggie McKenzie is a good listener

Over the years, fans have spoken of Reggie McKenzie as if he has some super human ability as a talent evaluator. And I’ve always pumped the brakes on any such talk. Not because I don’t think McKenzie has done a great job – he has – but because to suggest McKenzie is doing all this is to not understand how these things work. It’s also downright disrespectful of the scouts and coaches who watch the tape and lend their expertise to the process. McKenzie’s job is to listen to them.

“I think the biggest thing, I think he’s very consistent,” Del Rio said. “He’s a good listener and he values the opinions of his scouts and the coaches that work hard to form an opinion. I think that’s an important piece and he does that well.”

Some of the worst GM’s and owners in the league are those who get big egos and think they know better than the people they pay to know these things. AJ Smith comes to mind. Or owners like Dan Snyder.

McKenzie is not some infallible, all knowing being. But he put together a good group of scouts and coaches and works well with them. And he learned his proven measured approach from the likes of Ron Wolf and Ted Thompson over from Green Bay.

Raiders keeping door open for possible return of Latavius

It’s been a widely held belief that the Raiders will allow Latavius Murray to test the free agent market. But that doesn’t mean there is no chance he returns. There are a lot of factors involved in that decision. First and foremost is money, but there are other factors too.

“Yeah, I mean, we’ll just see,” Del Rio saif of the team’s running back plans. “That’s always a fluid situation. We’re not closing the door on anybody. I think there are a lot of players on our roster. We’d love to have them all back. It doesn’t always work that way. So I think we’ll work through it the best we can, try and remain in contact with all of our players and retain those we can. I wouldn’t close the door prematurely on anybody.

Del Rio went on to go Lloyd Christmas when speaking of Murray, saying “I like him, I like him a lot”. No word on what the soup de jour is.

Also see: Del Rio’s original contract “not very good”, earned new one “I bet on me”