In this day and age of professional football the NFL Draft might as well be the Super Bowl for all 32 franchises. With the restrictions of the salary cap it has become increasingly important for NFL teams to find premium talent every year in the draft.
These days rookies are expected to be valued contributors from day one if not be prepared for the moment their number is called during the season.
Last year probably provided Reggie McKenzie with the most challenging offseason a first year general manager will ever endure. First there was the complete restructuring of the front office. Next came an overhaul of the entire coaching staff followed by the task of tackling the many toxic contracts inherited from the previous regime.
As if that we’re enough to make McKenzie rethink his decision to leave Green Bay, the Raiders would have had but two draft picks were it not for the compensatory picks awarded by the NFL.
So in essence McKenzie was handed an impossible situation. To his credit he and his staff found some talent in the NCAA by unearthing valued contributors like 4th round pick Miles Burris and undrafted free agent Rod Streater.
This time around McKenzie has a healthy compliment of draft picks even those he’s still down a 2nd and 5th round selection due to a couple failed trades. None the less the cupboard again has supplies. Now all that remains is to make the most of those picks.
Of course given the hideous nature of the 2012 season there isn’t any time to wait and see how the 2013 draft class pans out. The men welcomed into the Silver and Black fraternity in April will be expected to make meaningful contributions come September.
The cap situation still isn’t sorted out which means the roster remains very much influx. Toss in the likely free agent departures and the number of holes to be filled grows like a golf course with a gopher infestation. That’s why the NFL’s scouting combine is critical for McKenzie and the Raiders’ coaching staff who will be conducting the drills the future NFLers will be going through.
Another first round bust cannot be afforded. A class with more promise than production simply isn’t allowed. McKenzie’s keen eyes must be peeled at all times as the combine begins because there quite frankly isn’t much job security for a regime that keeps preaching patience in a win-now business.