The NFL Draft is almost upon us. And for an eager Raider Nation, it’s an opportune window to see even more of general manager Dave Ziegler’s and head coach Josh McDaniels’ vision for their Las Vegas Raiders.
Except, the view of the Silver & Black landscape won’t be immediate. Not with the Raiders first selection slated for No. 86 overall – the second half of Day 2 of the draft on Friday. Unless Ziegler and Co. make a maneuver to get back into the first or second round, the wait will be a pretty long one for the Raiders.
Nonetheless, let’s take a look at things to watch during the three-day event Raiders-wise:
Vegas acquiring wide receiver Davante Adams from the Green Bay: Packers resulted in shipping a first- and second-round pick — No. 22 and No. 53 overall — to Lambeau. Hence why the Raiders participation in the draft won’t occur until the third round. So, unless Ziegler parts with assets (future and/or current draft picks and a player – maybe two) the Raiders will miss out on two full rounds of action with 85 prospects selected before they’re on the clock.
But don’t discount the Raiders trading down and potentially acquiring more selections, either.
“Those opportunities always exist,” Ziegler said. “You can look at some of the statistics of teams that are more willing to trade. Some teams are more willing to trade up. Some teams are more willing to trade back. There’s some teams, you look at their draft-day history, and they’re not willing to trade at all. We go through all that data, No. 1, to understand what some of the trends are of certain regimes, but we also work through those conversations. … If there’s a deal to be made that’s going to benefit the Raiders, whether it’s moving up in the draft, whether it’s moving back in the draft, those are always things that we’re going to be open to and entertain.”
From the day they were brought into the organization by owner Mark Davis, both Ziegler and McDaniels waxed poetic about taking the best player available (BPA) regardless of position. Drafting purely for need is a fool’s errand; and that’s something both acquired while steeped deep in the ways of Bill Belichick in New England.
This weekend’s action will give us all the tell if that was truth or merely speak. It is awesome thought when the best player available on the board also fills a need.
“We want the best available players regardless of position,” Ziegler said. “That’s how we want to continue to build the team. I think if you’re drafting good football players, you’re making good choices. … When you over-extend just to draft a need, you can often pass over good football players that can help your team. That can be a slippery slope if that’s the way you approach it.”
The Raiders BPA is going to differ from the other 31 team’s best player available. Not every team seems prospects the same.
The GM/Head Coach Dynamic
Ziegler and McDaniels were always going to be a BOGO (buy one, get one) combination from the get. To land one or the other, both had to come to Las Vegas. The duo are good friends and are known to work well together. The draft gives us even further insight to that dynamic.
Ziegler made it clear at the pair’s introductory press conference that as general manager, he has final say on the roster. But both have noted the input McDaniels has weighs heavy, too. Here’s to hoping there is some discord and argument in the Raiders draft war room between the two top personnel men. Some heated discussion does a head coach and general manager good.
“There’s always going to be some one-offs here or there where we just see it differently,” Ziegler said. “And then those are the guys that we end up sitting and working through a little bit more throughout the process to try to find some common ground and learn why we saw those players differently. But, for the most part, we see a lot of things the same when it comes to evaluating players.”
The track record of former New England Patriots’ Belichick disciples hasn’t been kind. Many have left the wing of the dragon known as Bill and haven’t been as successful in their new digs. McDaniels already showed thefootball world that in his first stint as head coach of the Denver Broncos – but has admitted to the mistakes and says he’s grown as a coach.
That said, the spotlight is heavier on Ziegler this weekend. He doesn’t have a Belichick-type looming over him this time and it’ll be very intriguing to see how Ziegler does as the man. He is highly thought of around NFL circles and as many have state, the bar is very low in Vegas – thanks to the previous regime’s performance.
But this is another great opportunity for Ziegler to prove he knows his stuff and Davis didn’t make a mistake making the duo of Ziegler/McDaniels the faces of the new Raiders era.