The Las Vegas Raiders had one of the most fruitful draft classes in recent team history last year and general manager Mike Mayock was highly responsible for it. Therefore, expectations have (justifiably or not) risen in year two of his tenure.
In 2019, Mayock became the Raiders general manager and immediately talked the talk after it was uncertain if he could smoothly make the transition from the analyst booth to evaluating talent. In his first year with the organization, Las Vegas saw an infusion of young talent with the selection of Rookie of the Year finalist Josh Jacobs and mid-round success picks Hunter Renfrow, Foster Moreau and Maxx Crosby. Moreover, Clelin Ferrell and Johnathan Abram are still in prime position to elevate their game. Suffice to say, Mayock did a good job and a similar rate of success is assumed in his sophomore year with the team.
However, the draft is a crapshoot and the burden of expectations can (but shouldn’t) hinder an organization’s approach to a successful selection. In Eddie’s Paskal’s latest Upon Further Review episode, Raiders social media manager Matt Walks wonders if there’s going to be pressure either on Mayock or his draft class to live up to the extremely lofty standards set by last year’s class, to which Paskal responds:
Fair or unfair, 100 percent… I don’t think MM [Mike Mayock] is a made man but I think after what he’s done in the past 13 months, he’s about as close to a made man as made man can be. You got two first round picks as we’ve talked about a lot. I think if one of those guys hits in a big way and you can, you know, get some production on the back end. I mean, realistically, are you going to be able to hit on the 75 guys that we pick this year? I don’t know if you’re going to replicate that. Are you going to be able to find that small school kid on day two who ends up turning into a legitimate rookie of the year candidate. I don’t know, but fair or unfair, yeah, you bring a very good point. For the rest of MM’s tenure here, every class that he brings in is going to be compared to the 2019 [class].
After a decade of drought, it was refreshing to see the Raiders nail their selections in 2019. Nonetheless, one of the perils of having success is the expectation to sustain it. On one hand, if Mayock pulled it once, he should not have trouble delivering results again. On the other hand, a lot goes into making the right choices in the draft. Besides exhausting study of all prospects, injury and random factors either break a prospect or see him take off.
It’s ok to demand the best as mediocrity should have no room on the road to Las Vegas, but we also have to have realistic expectations. Mayock and the Raiders should be able to replicate last year’s draft success, but if they don’t it won’t be because of lack of effort.
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