Las Vegas Raiders general manager Mike Mayock has made it a point to build a winning culture and to do that, he’s looking to a championship powerhouse in college for help. That powerhouse is the Clemson Tigers, led by head coach Dabo Swinney.
You can never have too much of a good thing and this is especially true when it comes to quality football players. The Raiders had been in purgatory for almost an entire generation; terrible drafts, one after the other and cap mismanagement crippled the organization. While a lot of the salary flexibility can be credited to former Raiders executive Reggie McKenzie, the current upward trend is due to Mayock’s drafting. One of the key components in that shift has been the pipeline to Clemson and its players.
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The Clemson Connection
Why the Tigers you may ask? That’s because they became a national collegiate powerhouse under Swinney and their players exude what we call character, which is what Mayock has identified as a key ingredient for turning the Raiders into champions once again. As for those Clemson players we mentioned, they’re Hunter Renfrow, Clelin Ferrell, Trayvon Mullen, and now added this year are John Simpson and Tanner Muse. These prospects were essential in helping turn around Clemson, a program that hasn’t lost a game since January 1st, 2018.
Letâ€™s Rock and Roll! @Raiders ðŸ´â€â˜ ï¸â˜ ï¸ pic.twitter.com/GI4dhq5Wi2
— John Simpson (@_JohnSimpson) April 25, 2020
The reactions to the Raiders selecting these kids haven’t been always positive. The Ferrell pick was criticized last year as a reach. Things only got worse when his stats didn’t seem like that of what you’d expect from a fourth overall pick. Then, you have fans already calling the Muse selection a “reach” without him even playing a down of football. As, Simpson said about that batch of former Tigers, “All of those guys, we’re like brothers,” Simpson said after his selection. “It’s a bond you can’t break.” Brotherhood and culture, something the Raiders didn’t have for what seemed like an eternity.
What’s The Correlation?
There’s definitely something to what Mayock’s building and what Swinney did in South Carolina. Bruce Schoenfield of the New York Times pointed out that Swinney built his juggernaut in spite of having “recruiting classes [that] were rated no higher than seventh in the country.” In other words, Swinney has done it his way, picking players that fit what he believes in, and selling them on his locker room as Schoenfield pointed out. Sound familiar? It should, Mayock’s building this team and culture his way, and his draft picks won’t always be sexy, sometimes they might even be head-scratching. Those players fit Swinney’s mold and now they fit Mayock’s, whether “draft experts” agree with him or not.
Are the Raiders becoming Clemson 2.0? It’s definitely trending towards that, what do you think Raider Nation? Let us know in the comments!
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2 thoughts on “Raiders Use Clemson Pipeline To Build Championship Culture”
I think Mayocks method is right on point. His focus on culture, character, and cohesion will pay big dividends. It was refreshing to watch Gruden and Mayock prioritize competitive spirit and drive. Traits that did not seem to drive McKenzie selections. For Raider fans who pay attention there is a method to the madness!