The Raiders are being rebuilt in every way possible. Not only is the team itself changing but the very philosophy of the franchise is being overhauled.
Reggie McKenzie wasn’t being disrespectful to Al Davis during today’s pre-draft press conference when he said “we’re not looking for guys that just run fast”. Instead McKenzie was simply making the point that gone are the days of the stopwatch taking top priority during the evaluation process.
In years past the man that walked out of the NFL Scouting combine with the fastest 40-yard dash time was almost guaranteed to be a Raider. If that happens again on McKenzie’s watch it will be because he’s fallen in love with the total package with the speed being a bonus.
There was nothing inherently wrong with the Davis approach. The Darrius Heyward-Bey selection drew plenty of criticism but three years later he’s played his way out of the bust label while completely silencing any Michael Crabtree comparisons.
For Davis he saw the intangibles first, those things that just can’t be coached. DHB’s blazing speed and considerable size made him the perfect canvas for Davis to paint his philosophy on. Heyward-Bey was a project to be sure but one that Davis saw great things in. Same could be said for what Davis saw in Nnamdi Asomugha who was an unheralded safety in college that became a shutdown corner in the pros.
The reality is McKenzie isn’t interested in taking on project players any longer. He’s more in the business of finding players ready to contribute in some way from day one. Naturally every player has room to improve and must be coached up. Only difference is McKenzie won’t be placing as high a value on the stopwatch any longer. I’m sure the same holds true for the broad jump, bench press and every other underwear workout that is valued by scouts.
Nothing guarantees the McKenzie approach will turn the tide for the Raiders. He’s still got plenty of work to do until his ideals become as popular as the ones Al Davis implemented. That is unfair considering there will never be another football man like Davis. But considering the recent lack of success the Raiders have endured it is refreshing to know a new philosophy is in place. After all, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over again and hoping for a different result.