Oakland Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie held his pre-draft press conference today. Because he understands the process, McKenzie was measured in his answers about who the team likes. He is not going to show or tip his hand for other NFL teams to get an idea of the players he is targeting. However, he did discuss some things of interest.
It has been long talked about that the Raiders would consider trading down from the number five pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. McKenzie traded out of the number three spot last year to acquire more picks. He eventually took cornerback DJ Hayden with the 12th selection. Depending on many factors, McKenzie will keep his options open.
“My phone line stays open on draft day,” McKenzie said. “I am open to everything. Whether I stay at that pick, it’s all going to depend on who is calling, where you are moving, who is there when you are picking. There are so many variables. I cannot say what I am going to do without a doubt right now.”
When you begin to dissect where the Raiders could go if they keep the fifth pick, many possibilities exist. The team would love to have a chance at defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, but that won't be an option barring something insane. They also could use a playmaker like wide receiver Sammy Watkins, who would strengthen an already solid wide receiving corps. They could continue to bolster the offensive line with one of the top tackle prospects such as Greg Robinson, Taylor Lewan, or Jake Matthews. They could also go with a pass rushing linebacker like Khalil Mack. McKenzie is smart enough not to talk about specific players, but he did say, the team is searching for impact players.
“We are going to just try to add some impact players, just add to the foundation that we’ve built,” McKenzie said. “We want some good players, some playmakers. Whoever is available at the spot that we are picking, that’s who we are going with. We are going to add some impact players. This is a good draft.”
The quarterback position remains a hot topic for the Raiders. The team brought in Matt Schaub via trade this offseason and have anointed him the starting quarterback. They traded away Terrelle Pryor, leaving Matt McGloin as the back-up. In today's NFL it is the most vital position. With that in mind, McKenzie is considering a quarterback in the NFL Draft.
“What it does is just give us some stability at that position,” McKenzie said of bringing in Schaub. “We needed that. Because we traded for Schaub, does that mean that we’re going to bypass a guy that we’ve got graded a certain way? No.”
McKenzie is pleased with the talent he has brought in via free agency. This is clearly the best roster the Raiders will put on the field since he became general manager two seasons ago. For McKenzie, the arrow next to the Raiders is pointing up.
“The foundation has been laid,” McKenzie said. “We’re working towards progress, continuous progress. The foundation, since I got here, has begun and we’re working to get things, the culture, the chemistry, right. This offseason, it’s starting to come to fruition. We brought in some players to compete, to make us better. When you bring in some good players, it forces competition. Competition makes us better. This year, we will be better.”
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