Quick Slants: Changing Roles, Free Agents and a Draft Conundrum

The NFL owners meeting is the prime destination to get juicy 411 on a specific team and the this year’s gathering in Orlando didn’t disappoint. In a topic not only debated amongst Raider Nation, but also produced eyebrow-raising reports, Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis addressed the team’s power structure. In short, general manager Reggie McKenzie is no longer the authority when it comes to football decisions. Head coach Jon Gruden (who landed a 10-year, $100 million deal from Davis) will have sway, maybe even, final say.

This could be classified under the Captain Obvious files, of course. The assumption when Gruden returned to Oakland was he’d have football authority. And Davis cemented that fact stating the complete command McKenzie had over head coaches Dennis Allen and Jack Del Rio isn’t going to be there with Chucky.

“They have roles to play. At this point in time, the role Reggie plays now is a little different than the role he played with Jack (Del Rio), a little different than his role working with Dennis (Allen),” Davis told NBC Sports Bay Area’s Scott Bair. “It evolves. He has built the team to where we are now, and we’re in pretty good shape with the cap and everything else. Now he has a head coach who’s going to be running this thing for the next 10 years. His vision is going to be most important building what type of team we’ve got. That vision, and that direction is going to be helpful to Reggie more so than not. I think they’ll work together very well.”

So far so good, no? The boat hasn’t rocked and the Raiders are gearing up for the draft in April.
That event is coming up quick. Let’s hit those Quick Slants just as fast:

  • There are reports out there McKenzie has dropped to as low as fifth on the power hierarchy depth chart. While I believe Gruden is the dude atop the food chain, I don’t see McKenzie dropping that low.
  • Chatter on NaVorro Bowman is sure quiet. Perhaps the silence helps the Raiders re-sign the veteran linebacker. He did solidify a middle linebacker position that’s been in flux since Nick Roach went down.
  • Odell Beckham Jr. a Raider? As outlandish as that sounds, pairing him with Amari Cooper and Jordy Nelson would be a surge of lightning that electrifies the Raider fanbase.
  • That would be a costly trade, of course. The New York Giants aren’t about to give the talented wide receiver go for peanuts. Wait, they gave up Jason Pierre-Paul for peanuts so … check that, the G-Men will accept honey roasted peanuts.
  • Oakland has interest in veteran cornerback Leon Hall. The free agent did play in Paul Guenther’s scheme in Cincinnati and would be a great sounding board and serviceable nickel corner. Oh, and he’s 33 so he fits Gruden’s veteran bill.
  • The more I watched Rashaan Melvin, the more I’m reminded of another pesky Raider cornerback — Tory James. Similar height and build and same tendency to attack the ball.
  • Polish vs. upside. That’s the draft conundrum for a team looking at Roquan Smith and Tremaine Edmunds. Smith has all the talent and tools to be a force at linebacker while Edmunds is the bigger freak athlete.
  • Do you take Edmunds and wait for him to get there or take Smith whose at a different level and can grow even more?
  • The uproar for the Raiders signings of veterans is amusing. From offensive tackle Ben Giacomini to safety Reggie Nelson, the fury has been fast but reason completely absent. These are depth cats who many not even survive camp cuts.
  • That said, if Giacomini is starting at right tackle and Nelson is starting at safety, something went terribly wrong.
  • Good to see the Raiders trading players (who would have been released) for draft picks. Nabbing two fifth rounders (while also giving up two sixths) gives Oakland a shot in every round to draft a prospect.

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