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Raiders GM Mike Mayock praises Carr, calls Witten the ‘Mt. Rushmore’ of NFL tight ends, talks draft options

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“To me, three picks in the third is like stealing,” Mayock tells reporters on a conference call Tuesday

NFL Combine - Day 1
Mike Mayock
Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

Raiders general manager Mike Mayock conducted a conference call with several media members on Tuesday to preview the NFL draft and to talk about the offseason in general.

I was on the call and wanted to pass along some highlights:

Mayock said the Raiders are “very appreciative” to have Derek Carr as their quarterback in what will be strange offseason because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Mayock also praised new backup Marcus Mariota. He said he thinks Mariota is a good fit because he and John Gruden liked him so much coming out of college in 2015 when he was the No. 2 overall pick by the Titans.

The GM said the Raiders need to build Mariota back up and help him regain his confidence after he lost his job at Tennessee last season. As expected, Carr is the starter and Mayock praised him often. The only way I see Mariota getting the starting job is if Carr falters — badly.

Oakland Raiders v Denver Broncos
Derek Carr
Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

Mayock went on to say that having three third-round picks in the upcoming draft is like “stealing ... if we do our jobs, that’s three more starters.” The Raiders currently have picks No. 80, 81 and 91 in the third round.

Mayock said he and Gruden think newly-signed Raider Jason Witten belongs on the “Mt. Rushmore” of all-time NFL tight ends. Witten, who soon turns 38, can help on the field and in the locker room, according to his new boss.

While the world is in the grip of the coronavirus pandemic, Mayock and his wife, Mandy, will donate $1,000 in the name of each draft pick for Clark County’s Delivering with Dignity program to help the fight in the team’s new home state of Nevada.

And with even the upcoming draft going virtual on April 23, Mayock said the most difficult aspect will be verifying medical records of players who have some physical questions. But overall, the Raiders are embracing the situation. In addition, the Raiders will start their “virtual” offseason program April 27, so the rookies can join in.

He delivered some good news as well, sharing that second-year tight end Foster Moreau is ahead of schedule in his rehab from a December knee injury.

NFL: Tennessee Titans at Oakland Raiders
Foster Moreau
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Mayock expects free agent linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski to wear the green dot on his helmet as he will run the defense from the field. He also revealed that defensive line coach Rod Marinelli “jumped on table” to push for the Maliek Collins’ signing. (Collins played for Marinelli in Dallas.)

While the Raiders are intrigued by some of their younger cornerbacks including Tryavon Mullen and Isaiah Johnson, Mayock did acknowledge the Raiders have to add at the position. Mayock also said newly-signed defensive back Damarious Randall will play free safety. He played there in Cleveland, but came into the NFL as a first-round cornerback with Green Bay.

NFL: Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos
Trayvon Mullen
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

He also said it was no secret the Raiders need help at receiver. He is in agreement with everyone else — he thinks this receiver class is great. He said teams could potentially find a No. 1 receiver in the third round. He was speaking generally and not about any Raiders’ specific plan but it illustrates how good this receiver class really is.