Las Vegas Raiders GM Mike Mayock held a 30-minute conference call with the media on Tuesday, as he does every year, and had plenty to say as you can read about in Bill’s write-up of the event. I was also listening in on the call and a few things stood out to me, including Mayock noting what he called “the biggest mistake” that teams make in the draft:
“Reaching for need.”
Here at Silver and Black Pride and elsewhere that is not here, people have been clamoring for the Raiders to improve at receiver and cornerback above all else. Most don’t want or expect to see Tyrell Williams, Zay Jones, Hunter Renfrow, Nelson Agholor, and Keelan Doss to be the final five going into the season. The addition of a single first round receiver prospect, whether it’s CeeDee Lamb, Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs, or other, changes the outlook of that unit considerably for most fans.
I would guess in the minds of many, with Mayock holding picks 12 and 19, that not coming away with any of Lamb, Jeudy, or Ruggs, and “settling” for “other” would warrant a negative grade for the Raiders GM this year. It’s impossible to predict when and in what order those three receivers will be drafted but Vegas almost certainly will have a shot at 12, at least. And I don’t think Mayock would have to say that he “reached for need” if he wound up with any of those three receiver prospects at 12 or 19. They could just as easily qualify as the best player available.
But what if Mayock doesn’t draft a receiver at 12 and then comes back on the board at 19 and those three players are all gone? Would he feel that Justin Jefferson or Laviska Shenault or Denzel Mims is an example of reaching for need at 19? Would it make him more compelled to take another position, like say Kenneth Murray at linebacker, or more compelled to trade down to a draft spot where he’d feel more comfortable picking Shenault or Tee Higgins?
It could also make you wonder if Mayock feels that if he’s taking the best player available at 12, would that be a receiver or cornerback? What if Javon Kinlaw is available and he actually thinks that Kinlaw is a top-5 prospect, as some do? Is cornerback C.J. Henderson a “reach for need” at 12 or is he a legitimate top-12 prospect?
In his first draft, Mayock selected Clelin Ferrell fourth overall. Almost everybody called it a reach. And the team did need a pass rusher, though most were expecting someone like Josh Allen. Was it a reach because of a need? Well, Allen was available, so obviously Mayock felt that Ferrell was better than Allen. Many felt it was a reach, but Mayock clearly did not.
He then took Josh Jacobs at 24, and I don’t need to tell you that coming off of a season with Marshawn Lynch and Doug Martin that running back was a need. Or that some people will always feel that a first round running back is a reach. But Jacobs was also the best running back in the draft and for some clubs, not a reach at all.
Johnathan Abram also solidified that of course Mayock was filling his needs in the draft, followed by cornerback Trayvon Mullen at 40. Were these reaches? If an elite tackle prospect falls to 12 this year, like say Mekhi Becton is viewed as a top-3 player in this draft by Mayock, does he go BPA over a receiver, cornerback, or linebacker? That would of course be shocking.
So when Mayock says that the biggest mistake that GMs make is reaching for need, he doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a mistake to focus on your needs. If he’s on the board in the first round next week and sees a player on the board he likes, but it’s too early, it could make him more compelled to move down. But if he views that player as adequate for the selection, even if few seem to agree as was the case with Ferrell, I don’t think he’ll call it a reach.
If you ran into him at a Wendy’s, would you tell Mike Mayock to his face that he "reached for need" in the 2019 NFL Draft?
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A spicy chicken sandwich meal, large fries, and can I get a frosty instead of a drink?