By Steve Corkran
Saturday, April 27th, 2013 at 7:49 pm in Oakland Raiders.
Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie and his coaches and scouts spent most of the first two days of the 2012 NFL draft waiting to make their first pick. This time around, they were active from the beginning and never slowed down until the three-day, seven-round process wrapped up Saturday.
That included almost two hours scouring the landscape for a slew of undrafted free agents once the draft ended about 4:30 p.m. PDT. Eventually, McKenzie emerged from the Raiders draft room and spent 17 minutes or so talking about his thoughts on how the Raiders fared in a draft that yielded 10 players, six on offense and four on defense.
Here is the entire transcript of what McKenzie had to say at Raiders headquarters in Alamdea:
Intro: Good evening, guys, how are we doing? Well, we’re excited that we added 10 new players. We feel like we got 10 young guys that will help this ballclub and I want to congratulate and say thanks to all the personnel staff and the coaching staff and everyone involved in this whole process. It was a, ended up being a good day. Ended up well, and we’re excited for the future of the Raiders.
Q: Seemed to lean offense today, feel like you made offense more explosive today?
A: I would like to say so. The past three days, the one thing we did is we stayed true to the board, and the board kind of dictated a lot of what we did, picking certain players, certain positions, whether it was moving back. We tried to assess the value of where we are and let the board help dictate what we do.
Q: What do you like about Tyler Wilson and do you have to basically erase last year with the team-wide turmoil at Arkansas?
A: Yeah, with that being said, I totally understand the coaching change, the offense, all that. But you can still watch his style of play, the way he plays the game. And we like a lot of things about him. We like the way he can move around in the pocket, we like his toughness to hang in there and see the field, we think he has a lot of qualities that goes into being a good solid quarterback in the NFL.
Q: You targeting either him or Barkley there?
A: Well, what we did is we made sure we looked at the board and how it falls, that’s how we went. Now, who was where? I don’t want to get into that because I’d be telling you my board. I don’t want to do that.
Q: Not even now? It’s all over.
A: It is over. But I don’t want to let the other teams know where I had guys.
Q: Raiders came in with seven picks, wound up with 10, was your plan to add picks?
McKenzie: No, it developed that way. I mean, going into this today and the whole draft week I wanted to make sure we added seven good players. If we it happened to turn into five or 12, there was no way to determine that, especially going in to it. I didn’t want to go into it making trades, but I did want to stay true to the board and if it tells me, hey, you should move down because of the value of it, then I’m going to look into it, I’ll take the calls.
Q: As draft went on and you said you’d pick the best player available, how do you address need as well?
McKenzie: From that standpoint, you just hope that it falls right. If you get one need, one thing about it, we felt like we had a few needs, so I didn’t think it was that hard to address certain areas, because we had needs at a lot of spots. We need to upgrade depth in a lot of stops. We knew if we stayed true to the board we would get good players, and that was the whole factor. Make sure we got good players with each pick.
Q: Hard to stay true to the board as it went on?
McKenzie: As it went on, later on, it’s always, even in the beginning, you’re like, somebody’s on the board that you didn’t expect and you would like to fill a need real quick but you can’t do that, you hurt your team that way.
Q: Based on your characteristics, McGee sticks out as a departure in terms of what you’re looking for. The issues he’s had, what sold you on making him a Raider?
McKenzie: The research, and talking to , not only doing the research with the people down there and all of that, but the research with him and his group, the people that surround him, his support group, and talking to him, himself. Just came away with, I wanted to see what this guy has and give him the chance. He knows it. But I have no problems bringing him into that locker room. He’s a solid guy that made some mistakes in college. That happens sometimes. But after the thorough research that we had, we felt good about him.
Q: So guys like him and Murray, guys who were off the radar, they were still on your board, the next guy available?
McKenzie: yes, yes.
Your rankings not affected by other teams?
“Absolutely. You can drive yourself crazy if you try to set your board that way. If you try to figure out where the other teams put their players, you can’t do that. You gotta believe the reports and the recommendations of your scouts and everybody who saw that player and when we get together and put it on the board, as here it is, here’s where we’re going to put him and it becomes this way. We’ll pick ‘em compared to where we have everybody else. We stay true to the board by how we evaluate the guys not by how we think he’s going to come off the board.”
Tyler Wilson has a three-quarters delivery, are you fine with his mechanics?
“Coach is going to have to work with mechanics. That’s how it is with a lot of these players. These guys coming in as rookies, they’ve been taught a certain way, they’ve been throwing all kinds of ways… regardless of quarterback position or any one of the positions, they’re gonna have to get coached up and he’s no exception.”
How different was this draft for you?
“It was different. Number one, you just came in and watched day one and pretty much days two until the last pick day two so… but today, last year, a lot of energy. Now, as far as going into the draft preparation and the cohesiveness and the overall feel for me, it was much better this year because I’ve experienced it once. So, I’m going into my second draft so it was, the flow was much better for me. I’m probably more comfortable with the scouts. I got a chance to work with Zack (Crockett), Calvin (Branch) and David McCloughan, and the rest of those guys, Mickey Marvin. I’ve been through it with those guys last year so I knew those guys so this year, getting some of the other guys in place and kind of doing it the way I was accustomed to, it was much more comfortable for me so I felt a whole lot better going into it.”
How do you assess the QB situation, will you look to add a veteran?
“I would like to bring four guys into the off-season and whether bring them into training camp or not, I’m used to bringing in about four quarterbacks and let the guys compete and try to work through camp. It’s very hard to have just two or three quarterbacks because if one takes the day off, whether he’s hurt, sick, the arm is sore, whatever, you gotta rely on just a couple of guys doing all the work.”
Do you think Tyler Wilson can compete right away for job?
“Well, you know, he’s a rookie. I want him to learn the playbook first. Get out here and make sure he gets behind the center and not behind the guard. You know, you want these guys to come in and just show the coaches and their teammates, No. 1, that they belong. Then all the other stuff will come.”
You say you don’t worry about other teams’ boards, but how does that work when you’re trading down? Not worried you’ll get jumped?
“Well, it comes into play when it’s not just… you’re assuming I’m just looking at the quarterback position. If I have more players around that area, I feel comfortable moving down. So that’s the way I try to set the board. If it’s enough players in that general area, then I’ll move down. Not just that one position. I try not to target just one position unless I’m going up, to go get that one position guy. That’s when I’m targeting one position guy. And if I have enough ammunition, I’ll try to do that.”
You took one giant tight end, one smaller tight end. They a nice complement?
“It was definitely the board, because those two guys, they were right together. And yes, Kasa is more the in-line guy – you know, he can catch the ball, but he hasn’t had a whole lot of experience playing the position. But he showed that he can play the position. And Rivera’s more the receiving tight end. He’s played in-line also, but what he excels at is more the receiving-type tight end.”
And you had to get somebody from Tennessee?
“Absolutely. That helps.”
Q: How did you address your pass-rush need the past couple days?
A: “Well, we felt like we got a couple of guys that can rush the passer. We think the third-round pick, Sio, can come off the edge a bit. We think David Bass can come off the edge some. We like some of the things that Stacy can do in the middle. So, sometimes you look into the certain draft classes and you try to identify a gamut of pass-rushers or whatever needs you may have, whether it’s quarterback, running back, it doesn’t matter. If it’s not there, we’re not going to make up guys. We’re not going to push guys up the board because we think we need a defensive lineman, a defensive end. We’re not going to do that. If it’s nto there, we’ll find it in another way.”
Q: Is Bass a guy that you hoped would be available later on?
A: “Yeah, we didn’t think he was … where we picked him is kind of where we had him.”
Q: How much did Bass’ East-West Shrine Game performance help in the evaluation process?
A: “Well, it helps when you go against certain competition. When you’re used to going against certain players, now he’s going against bigger and better football players, you can try to see if you can see the same things you saw on tape. Yeah, that helps.”
Q: Did you not have enough guys who loved football last year?
A: It has more to do with the philosophy with what we’re trying to implement into this team and the message that we’re sending to the current team last year when we got here. It was more ‘This is what we’re all about. These are the kind of players we want. If you want to join ship let’s get on board. This is what you’re going to have to do. You’re going to have to work.’ It’s just sending the message and this is kind of who we are as players and as a team. We’re going to come here and go to work and try to get it done.
Q: Did guys last year not join the ship?
A: I’ll tell you this it was you had some guys that had to learn how to do it the right way and I thought this staff did a good job of getting guys to do that. Make no bones about it guys. We won’t be the only team that brings guys in and ships guys out. That’s going to always be the case. We’ll have some of these guys here currently who probably can’t cut it. The goal is to get guys in that locker room that are all working for a common goal and are on the same page. That’s the only way you’re going to develop chemistry. Those guys have to come together. Once coaches send the right message and players try to implement it you have a chance. All right. Thanks guys.