Never has a scouting department been under such pressure. If you’re evaluating talent for the Oakland Raiders at the combine in Indianapolis then chances are you’ve got one eye on the field and the other over your shoulder. Among the few staffers that were able to retain their jobs under the Reggie McKenzie regime the scouting department knows they’re auditioning to keep those checks coming.
When McKenzie took over it made sense to start fresh so most everyone he didn’t hire be fired, let go or simply allowed to walk free. Keeping the scouts around boiled down to all the work they’d done during the season. Starting from scratch with a new coaching staff is made easier due to the off-season. With an entire scouting department you’re talking about losing valuable time with hirings and firings mere weeks before the combine begins.
As if the task of doing enough to keep your job weren’t a heavy enough burden to bury, how’d you like to be looking for talent knowing you’ve got next to nothing in terms of draft picks?
With just two late rounds picks currently at their disposal the Raiders need to make sure they look over every player possible in order to find some forgotten gems in the draft. As it stands the Raiders have pretty much pulled a Mike Ditka by trading away most all of their 2012 draft. The losses of Nnamdi Asomugha, Zach Miller and Robert Gallery will yield compensatory picks but none of those will be valued any higher than a late third-round pick. Combine those with the 5th and 6th rounders the Raiders are currently sitting on and you’ve got yourself the essence of scouting.
Anybody that watched college football or opens their ears to the plethora of draft gurus out there knows Andrew Luck, Robert Griffith III, Trent Richardson, Justin Blackmon, blah, blah, blah. For the teams looking to draft these men it’s a matter of kicking the tires.
For the Raiders they’ve got some test driving to do. Not only do they need to find talent but they’ll need talent that can contribute immediately. McKenzie’s mission is to rid the franchise of some “out of whack” contracts. Stanford Routt was the first to fall under that sword. No matter who is next they’ll free some cash but will also leave holes on the roster.
Routt might not have been the best corner on the planet but replacing him will take a more inspired pick than DeMarcus Van Dyke or Chimdi Chekwa. Last year Al Davis tried to fill the void of the departing Asomugha with two rookies that showed some real potential but never contributed in a meaningful way.
With all that you can see why this year at the combine will require more than the usual stopwatch. This time around the Raiders can’t rely on physical ability alone. The Al Davis doctrine of drafting athletes and molding them into football players is gone for the time being. These days ‘potential’ is a dirty word in the East Bay. What the Raiders will need from their draft class next season is what they got from Stefen Wisniewski last season. Finding a first year player who steps in and plays like a seasoned vet is rare but not impossible. Here’s hoping the scouting department in Oakland can make that miracle happen again but this time with limited draft picks. Not only are the prospects of improving on last season riding on it so too are the jobs of the scouts.
Tags: Al Davis, Oakland Raiders, Raider Nation, Fans, Popular, Featured Andrew Luck Chimdi Chekwa DeMarcus Van Dyke Justin Blackmon Mike Ditka NFL Draft Combine Nnamdi Asomugha Reggie McKenzie Robert Gallery Robert Griffith III Stanford Routt Stefen Wisniewski Trent Richardson Zach Miller