Reggie McKenzie won Executive of the Year in 2016 and rightfully so. A combination of the players he drafted and the players he brought in during free agency racked up a league-leading seven spots in the Pro Bowl.
The team finished 12-4 making the playoffs for the first time in 14 years; meanwhile, the 2017 season was a nightmare Raider Nation is ready to awaken from.
“Best Player Available” was the gospel to the Oakland Raiders during a losing trend, its chief strategy, drafting the ultimate in scouting combine athletes. McKenzie has bucked that trend in some aspects and chosen to draft for positions of need while earning a reputation as a GM who takes risks on project players early in the draft.
McKenzie may have hit a home run with the 2014 draft class, featuring Khalil Mack, Derek Carr, Gabe Jackson, and TJ Carrie. But there isn’t a single member of the 2013 draft class on the roster, which includes declining to keep the first-round pick, DJ Hayden, long enough to use the fifth-year option on him. More troubling is the only draft picks to play sixteen games in 2017 were Mack and Carrie.
The 2015 class set up the Raiders for drafting the most polished collegiate wide receiver at pick number five. A virtual gimme. Mario Edwards Jr., Clive Walford, and Jon Feliciano have never started 16 games in a season and fellow draftees Ben Heeney, Neiron Ball, Anthony Morris, Max Valles and Andre Debose weren’t even on the 2017 roster.
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Karl Joseph is the headliner of the 2016 class, while he’s been productive, his shortcomings are obvious. Some, including myself, believe Cory James can become a special player for a team desperately in need of young longstanding help at the linebacker position, especially with Paul Guenther coming into Oakland and the deception and multitude of blitz packages. Jihad Ward is calling out coaching staff members and a leading candidate for the cut list. Ward, was a second-round draft pick in 2016, now he may be dealt before his third year in the league.
Not a single member of the 2017 draft class started 16 games for the 6-10 Raiders. Eddie Vanderdoes who was the third-round draft selection played in 13 games, the most out of any of the rookies. At no fault of McKenzie’s first and second-round draft picks Gareon Conley and Obi Melifonwu were injured early and out for the year.
Options Options Options
A coin flip at the scouting combine in Indianapolis will determine whether the Raiders draft from the ninth slot or the tenth. Either way, a smorgasbord of decisions, trades, free agents, and scouting await the Raiders.
they gave me a B for this draft !!!!! this is how it's done people
— Phil Robinson (@PhilRobinsonIII) February 13, 2018
Trading out of the 9/10 spot, provided Bradley Chubb or Saquon Barkley isn’t available, seems like the best way to acquire a later first and additional day one and two picks in order to really stock up on higher-end young talent.
Filling positional needs with highly regarded players in the first four rounds can ensure this team much success be it long-term and/or short, but it’s going to require McKenzie to have regimented defecation. Project players should be selected Day 3 or not drafted at all. Too many times in the past a player has been drafted and immediately had his position switched or asked to be a hybrid.
With a simple approach to the draft, McKenzie can come out smelling like roses and hand the football off to Gruden and let him run with it.
- Draft the biggest position of need
- Draft the best player at position of need
- Don’t try to be the smartest guy in the room and draft a project in the first two days
- Look to make moves and add picks in days 1 and 2
- Entertain the idea of a home run trade (first and 2019 second/third for Aaron Donald?)
- Find a receiver that will catch the damn ball when he tells you to throw it to him (don’t double up Michael Crabtree’s cap hit for a receiver who didn’t break 1000 yards in the previous season.)
- Find one or two productive high-value players and pay them. No low-balling.
More so to the fact McKenzie needs another good draft where the majority of his players are making a season-long positive impact on everything they do. The team is in need of the right moves to counter division rivals and champions, the Kansas City Chiefs. McKenzie is deserving of a lot of credit for the turnaround in the Raiders fortunes, but he needs to be more than a “cap-ologist” and frugal consumer.
As long as these simple guidelines are taken into consideration and maybe even half of them put into practice the 2018 offseason will be a huge success. McKenzie will have done his part in fixing the mistakes of a team who lost more than they should have, and the Raiders will be well on their way back to Just Win Baby!