The last two offseasons have posed a challenge for NFL front offices. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, teams have limited contact with draft prospects. Moreover, the fact a vast number of college players decided to opt out of the 2020 season will make it difficult for organizations to have a full report on them. How will the Las Vegas Raiders handle them?
The Raiders held their pre-draft press conference and general manager Mike Mayock touched on several topics. Among them was the conundrum 2020 opt-outs present. He said they had ‘pretty lively conversations’ about it but believes every prospect is a different case. He knows many players decided to forgo their college eligibility for family reasons and added that others started preparing for 2021’s draft right out of the gate. “It’s a lot deeper question,” the general manager said.
This is a good thing because if the Raiders automatically disregarded 2020 opt-outs, they would pass up on enticing prospects such as cornerback Caleb Farley, defensive end Gregory Rousseau, and offensive tackle Rashawn Slater, all of them worthy of the 17th overall selection. Simply, it wouldn’t make sense for Las Vegas to take these players off their board just because they made a decision in their best interest. Isn’t that what most would do if they were in their shoes?
The Raiders need to adapt to the new methods of evaluation
Earlier in the sit-down, Mayock mentioned he doesn’t like Zoom meetings. However, he does like the fact college programs held Pro Days after canceling them last year. When you take into consideration every NFL team is dealing with the same set of circumstances, this shouldn’t be an issue for the Raiders. Everyone is playing on a leveled field and nobody holds a meaningful advantage. If anything, Mayock and Las Vegas will need to make chicken salad with what they got.
During the press conference, Mayock lamented that teams can no longer organize workouts with draft prospects. He says that gave them the opportunity to test them and learn more about them. Nevertheless, the league could discontinue that practice for good in upcoming years. It is true organizations could learn more about players but they are steadily leaning towards virtual meetings. This generation of players grew with the internet already in place, the same is true for cell phones. Virtual communication is an inherent part of this batch of prospects, so teams have to adapt to the new times, not the other way around.
The Raiders, just like every other NFL team, are dealing with situations they had never encountered before. Whether it’s their evaluation of 2020 opt-outs or embracing the new scouting methods, they must embrace the challenge. Otherwise, football will pass by them.
You May Also Like: Raiders Receive Solid Report Cards For HC Jon Gruden’s Drafts
Top Photo: Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group