Oakland Raiders: Blue Chip Players to Come in Draft Not Free Agency


Nov 22, 2014; Gainesville, FL, USA; Florida Gators defensive lineman Dante Fowler Jr. (6) against the Eastern Kentucky Colonels during the first quarter at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Philosophy matters in the NFL. And each team should have one….so to speak. Sometimes an owner, coach or player can force a team to change its philosophy, but the good ones tend to be consistent and diligent to their values.

It is becoming obvious in Oakland, the Raiders and Reggie McKenzie have a philosophy. A plan in place for free agency and the draft, which includes a set of standards, un-written rules, and lessons learned from experience that dictate their course of action.

Call it the Green Bay philosophy. Reggie McKenzie for the most part has stayed away from high-priced free agents in favor of solid contributors who can help legitimize this Raiders franchise.

As of now, the current crop of free agent acquisitions for the Raiders could all be described as…..well, boring. All solid players at key positions of need, but no players you would describe as dynamic, exciting or blue-chip players.

Even the one big name signing Rodney Hudson, who I believe is elite, cannot be considered blue-chip. Hudson plays center, a position of importance but hardly a position that offers the most impact in a football game. Michael Lombardi’s definition below may disagree with mine, but in my opinion when it comes to a real blue-chip player, Reggie McKenzie and the Raiders have yet to land one in this years free agency period.

"Player has abilities that can create mismatches vs. most opponents in the league. Is a featured player on the team and has impact on the outcome of the game. Not one player can take him out of the game. Each week he has a consistent level of performance. Plays at a championship level performance. He rates in the top 10 at his position in the league. Michael Lombardi, former NFL GM and Personnel Director"

But that’s OK.

Should the Raiders have dealt out tons of money for high-priced free agent players?

That is up for debate, but I think most of us assumed that would be the case. Go out and drop the “Brinks Truck” on a player like Ndamukong Suh or Randall Cobb. Go get that blue chip, game changing player that can elevate your team. Funny thing is, it didn’t happen.

The philosophy stepped in. The Raiders and Reggie showed this offseason they were not going to spend money, just because they had money. They were not going to bend over backwards for players and agents who wanted to use them as leverage against other teams. They were not going to play this game of high stakes lotto jackpots, where they are tied to a high-priced player for years to come. The Raiders made reasonable offers and set a limit. When the price got to high, they moved on.

“But they have to spend money!!!!” Ah, yes the salary cap threshold and so-called 89% rule. First off calm down, I’ve been in many of twitter wars over this nonsense and it’s mostly media hype. Alfie Crow of BigCatCountry.com a Jaguars blog site had the best breakdown I’ve found. The Jaguars obviously are in a much similar boat as the Raiders with respects to the cap threshold requirement. It is a must read for fans paranoid about the Raiders not spending enough money on players.

So what, the Raiders did not get a blue chip player in free agency….Well if you follow their philosophy, they weren’t supposed to.

Dec 7, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders outside linebacker Khalil Mack (52) celebrates behind San Francisco 49ers running back Frank Gore (21) after a Raiders sack against the 49ers during the second quarter at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

For Reggie McKenzie the NFL Draft is where you get your impact players.

The draft, when done right is where championship teams are built. From 1st round studs to late round steals, the draft is the path to long-term football success. Long term is the key, slow and steady, not fast and reckless. If you want excitement and headlines go be an Eagles fan. I’m just fine with the low-key free agency from this years Oakland Raiders.

The list of potential blue chip players in the 2015 NFL Draft is long. Edge rushers and Wideouts make up the deepest positions in the draft. Funny, the Raiders have major needs in both those areas. A Leonard Williams or Dante Fowler to team up with Mack. A Kevin White or Amari Cooper to help Derek Carr.

In the second round players like DEs Owa Odighizuwa and Arik Armstead, WRs Nelson Agholor, Devin Smith and Breshad Perriman all players that can contribute right away in the NFL. The key is to find the right players that fit the Oakland Raiders for the long-term.

The Raiders are being built from the ground up, and are being built for the long-term with a philosophy that works. The NFL Draft is where the Raiders will find th blue chip players needed to build a champion. Free agency is for accessories pieces and finishing touches to add to an already solid team. The Raiders are still a work in progress, working on finding its foundation for the future.

Free agency is fun, but the draft builds championships.