Mike Mayock showed last year and this past free agency he’s got a good grasp of the general manager job for the Las Vegas Raiders. In his latest conference with the media, he talked about the importance of getting the later rounds right and how trading back benefitted the team.
The Raiders had a somewhat successful first round in 2019. Josh Jacobs played like an Offensive Rookie of the Year and became a core player. Clelin Ferrell showed growth towards the end of the year after a slow start and Johnathan Abram should be healthy ahead of the season. However, Mayock really made his money in the later rounds.
The general manager started his streak when the Raiders acquired Maxx Crosby and Foster Moreau in the fourth round. The team also added Isaiah Johnson, but going into his second year, the cornerback is an unproven commodity due to the injuries he sustained in his rookie year. The fifth round was no different as Hunter Renfrow was selected there. Crosby, Moreau and Renfrow outplayed their draft slot and became building blocks for the Silver and Black.
Via the team’s official YouTube channel, Mayock talked about how crucial the later rounds were in last year’s draft.
Everything started in the second round, “It gave us some extra picks on the third day. We traded back two times again in the fourth round. Then traded up in the fifth to come get Hunter Renfrow… Ultimately, we let the draft come to us a little bit. Through that process, we generated two or three extra picks that turned into pretty good football players.”
Later in the conversation, Mayock added that, “people scream and yell about who the quarterbacks are, but at the end day, to me, the third day is just as important as the first and so is the acquisition of the college free agents.”
One of the reasons Mayock has for giving so much attention to later rounds is that they’re more difficult to prepare for than it is for the first or even second.
Mayock says it’s easier to get their hands on information for top prospects, “the bigger chance [of the draft] comes on the third day and the day after because the first round prospects for the most part, you have two or three years of film. Most of them at least were at the combine and you have at least the height and weight if not verified 40s. For the bigger-name guys there are less question marks with the one exception of the medicals and that’s the one where most teams have the most concerns”.
Mayock also mentioned that it becomes progressively more difficult to evaluate lesser-known prospects because of the lack of data the front office has access to, “I think it’s more kind of that third day when you start talking about guys that don’t have as much tape, guys that were not at the combine. We are getting an awful lot of tape and information from agents that are doing Pro Days and how much of that can you trust or not trust. So, I think more of the question marks begin to surface the further you get into this draft. I think the first round, for the most part, will be similar to most years.”
The first couple rounds of the draft are the ones that bring the most cachet to NFL franchises, but Mayock knows that even though the middle and late rounds aren’t sexy, they’re the ones that bring a steady flow of key contributors.
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