Each time there is a new coach under Reggie McKenzie the question becomes about what the power dynamic will be with regard to personnel decisions and how they will collaborate. Around the time of free agency, McKenzie said essentially that Gruden says what he wants to fit his system and McKenzie goes out and tries to find them.
One would assume that’s the same plan with regard to the draft, though, according to McKenzie that process is made easier because he and Gruden are of a similar mind about what makes a good prospect.
“I got a feel for coach Gruden,” McKenzie said in his pre-draft press conference Friday. “We like the same type players. All his coaching staff and scouts. We’re just trying to get on the same page and get it together. That’s what we’re doing.”
That, of course, leads to the inevitable question of just what type of player that is. To which McKenzie went with his usual generalities so as not to tip his hand as to who the Raiders are eyeing next week.
“Raiders, you know?” McKenzie said of the type player he wants. “The characteristics of that is just good football players. It’s not about height, weight, speed, or where they come from, it’s about who they are as players, do they love playing football. All those type characteristics that you truly like about football players.”
Al Davis would disagree entirely with McKenzie’s assertion that speed doesn’t play a role in what makes a Raider. He made speed an extremely high priority for the Raiders as one of those things you can’t teach.
So, in that, it seems there are some variations on the classic sense of what a Raiders player is and what McKenzie and Gruden think of as a good football player, which sounds like simply a passion for the game which will presumably also include work ethic – also not something that seemed high on Al Davis’s list of priorities (JaMarcus Russell).
Also in Al Davis’s world, the pick decision began and ended with him. If he wanted a player, that was who the Raiders picked. The disagreements in such things is likely what ultimately caused him to trade Gruden to the Buccaneers in 2002.
We know based on simply the 10-year, $100 million commitment Mark Davis made in Jon Gruden that he has a major say in personnel decisions. But leaning on the experts in the room is a key to this working, whether it be position coaches, scouts, or otherwise.
“It’s all about . . . getting all the information from the coaches and getting the information from the scouts and then we set the board,” McKenzie continued. “It’s not rocket science, it really isn’t. It’s just trying to get a feel for a new system, new coaches, what they like and what they don’t like. That’s the process.”