As we speak the Oakland Raiders scouting department is hard at work trying to find the next…Travis Goethel? Until the NFL hands out its allotment of compensatory draft picks the Raiders are reduced to scouring the collegiate ranks for two late round draft picks. A 5th round pick and a 6th round pick is all the Raiders currently have in their draft arsenal. Not exactly the kind of stuff that will help to build a champion overnight.
Then again, in pro football champions are never built overnight. Right, Philadelphia?
Reggie McKenzie’s recent job experience dictates that the Raiders will try to assemble a winner for years to come through the draft. That’s what he helped to do in Green Bay. Too bad that process will be delayed for at least a year in Oakland.
There’s no telling what the Raiders will look like next year. Even with compensatory picks the only means to find new talent will be digging through the dregs of the NFL. The Raiders are capped-out so it will take some serious creative accounting to get into position to compete for top-shelf free agents.
Therefore McKenzie’s scouts have a much different task at hand. They’ll need to be digging through the rosters of NFL clubs to try and unearth diamonds in the rough. Perhaps there is a Jeremy Lin of the NFL buried on the depth charts in Cleveland.
For the upcoming NFL draft the Raiders are on the outside looking in as the biggest off-season party in pro sports will be without the silver and black.
You’ve got to wonder what instructions McKenzie issued his personnel department prior to their trip to Indianapolis for the scouting combine. Yes, there is always talent to be found in the late rounds but those success stories are few and far between. In recent years the Raiders have done well to unearth late round gems but we’re only taking contributors not legitimate stars.
All of the wheelings and dealings of the past two years has left the Raiders without draft picks and no playoff appearance to show for their troubles. Richard Seymour, Jason Campbell, Carson Palmer and Aaron Curry have all helped to get the Raiders back to mediocrity. While it’s an improvement there is no way that .500 is an acceptable goal. Right, Tom Cable and Hue Jackson?
All of those aforementioned players were acquired in exchange for draft picks. Nothing guarantees any of those draft picks would pan out but in the NFL the draft is everything. So many positions are given depth by the draft. Project players are taken in with hopes an unknown safety can become a shutdown corner or a running back with a serious injury in college can become a valued contributor in the pros. Also, the ever important special teams is filled out largely with draftees.
Overall McKenzie is going to have to pull a minor miracle to improve the Raiders overnight. But this was never a one-year turnaround. Mark Davis is in charge now and he’s taking the franchise in a different direction. Just how different will be revealed in the coming weeks.
Not only are the Raiders outsiders on the draft but they’re also likely to be quiet in free agency once again. The times are changing in Oakland but the problems remain the same. At least until McKenzie can wade through all that must be corrected we’re stuck waiting to see where the cards may fall. Hopefully he’s got some plan in place to shuffle the deck in order to see a few more hands dealt in the draft.