Due to COVID-19, this year’s NFL training camps are going to be vastly different. Back in April, Raiders general manager Mike Mayock made a decision that puts the team in a better position to navigate these unique circumstances.
Adjustments to Training Camp and Preseason
Last week, Bleacher Report’s Rob Goldberg reported on a couple of changes regarding the upcoming season. Goldberg mentioned that the NFLPA voted unanimously to not play any preseason games. First, the league has already reduced the preseason to two games. Nevertheless, the players could get their way if Covid-19 numbers keep increasing. This could really have a huge impact because the preseason is how teams evaluate players fighting for spots on the back ends of rosters. This is especially true for late-round draft picks and undrafted free agents.
Also, Goldberg talked about a development regarding the number of players teams will bring into camp. He brought up a report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter. According to the insider, teams likely won’t have 90-man camp rosters like they typically do. Moreover, he mentioned that number could be as low as 75. The reduced rosters could cause teams to make some difficult decisions. They may tell players selected late in the draft or signed afterward to stay home. It might not be worth bringing them to camp with how things are unfolding.
Mayock Showed Good Foresight During Draft
In April’s draft, the Raiders made seven selections, all of which came in the first four rounds. Afterward, Mayock was asked during a virtual press conference about why the team opted not to make some moves to get back into the draft in those later rounds. Mayock explained,
“You know we didn’t have any 6s or 7s heading into this weekend and one of our concerns was depending on what happens with the pandemic we think there’s a pretty good chance we’re not gonna see our rookies in person til maybe training camp. And if that’s the case, then you better make sure you’re drafting rookies that are smart, hardworking, and accountable because they’re gonna have a shortened period of time to make the team. So we had seven of the first 139 picks and that was a little bit of the thought process of not trying to trade down out of 139. You know, we had some offers to move out of there and A: we wanted Robertson if he was there, but you know the further down you get in the draft, the more concerns we had about a kid being able to compete, realistically compete to make the roster.”
So Mayock clearly was looking ahead and wanted to make sure that if COVID ended up impacting the offseason (which it is), the team would not end up wasting any draft picks because a guy they took in the seventh round could not make the team. This decision already looked smart when teams started having virtual mini camps. Now that the league is scrapping some or all preseason games and reducing training camp rosters, Mayock looks like a super-genius.
Other Teams Might Have a Harder Time Evaluating Players
To really see how good of a decision this was, keep an eye on teams like the Minnesota Vikings. They made 15 picks in the draft, including two in the fifth round, two in the sixth, and FOUR(?!) in the seventh. How will they evaluate all of those late-round draft picks if there are no preseason games? And if they cannot assess them, will some of those picks get cut before they really even get a chance to prove themselves? The Raiders should not have to worry about such things at all.
So far, this looks like another savvy move by the Raiders’ GM. In his second year on the job, Mike Mayock is already looking like a seasoned veteran.
You May Also Like: Mount Rushmore of Raiders Linebackers
Thanks for reading. Feel free to follow me on Twitter at @blackman_dalton.
Top Photo: Trevor Ruszkowski/USA Today Sports