Waiting for my flight out of Indianapolis, and after four days of working at the NFL scouting combine, it’s clear a lot of people are intrigued to see how the Raiders operate in the post-Al Davis era.
Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie and and coach Dennis Allen kept a low profile, with McKenzie declining to talk at the podium (although we spoke on the record Thursday night) and Allen speaking at the same time there was a packed house for Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III on the other side of the room.
There’s a lot of shop talk and informal conversation that goes on in Indianapolis in the restaurants and watering holes around town, both with fellow media members from other cities as well as scouts, coaches and front office people from other teams _ moreso than at any other NFL event I can think of.
Most everyone is interested to see how the Raiders fare. They’ve never operated before as a “normal” organization and that is what McKenzie and Allen are attempting to foster.
Regarding McKenzie, seldom is heard a discouraging word. By acclimation, McKenzie is considered a solid talent evaluator, a straight shooter and a person of integrity. It’s clear he has a plan, and he’s not going to be concerned about making difficult choices on the roster if it means getting the club’s financial house in order and changing the chemistry on the team.
Allen is harder to figure, because his track record is so limited with one year as a coordinator.
But there really were only two reactions gathered on the Raiders’ new coach during my time here.
Either people know very little about him, or they’re very impressed. Almost nothing in between. Some people wonder about the hire simply because of his experience level, but they concede they’re speaking from that frame of reference only and know little to nothing about the man.
Those people that have had some experience with Allen almost unanimously think he will be a terrific head coach. I didn’t talk to a single person who has dealt with Allen or has some knowledge of how he operates who gave it a thumbs down. Not overly surprising, I guess, considering how fast he climbed the NFL ladder.
In terms of draft buzz, it’s hard to generate any of that when barring a trade, the best they can do is No. 97 if they get the best available compensatory pick. Projecting who could be fifth and sixth round picks as a futile exercise, although it should be noted one of McKenzie’s strengths _ considering how Green Bay operated _ is finding qualities players in those rounds.
Gotta board now . . . counting on taking a week off next week . . .