Is Jack Del Rio’s Influence in the Draft a Good Thing?


November 17, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos interim head coach Jack Del Rio celebrates after the Broncos scored a touchdown during the third quarter against the Kansas City Chiefs at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Broncos defeated the Chiefs 27-17. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

If it aint broke, don’t fix it….In 2014 the Oakland Raiders draft strategy behind GM Reggie McKenzie was damn near perfect.

McKenzie showed what patience and excellent scouting can bring to a NFL franchise. Solid contributors and potential stars in a rookie class filled with depth and promise.

But rookies can only get you so far, and the losses mounted resulting in another losing season for the silver and black. In the end, a new coaching staff was hired led by the experienced Jack Del Rio, and GM Reggie McKenzie earned himself at least another year guiding this pirate ship.

With a new coach, comes new expectations and a possible new power structure. We already know Jack Del Rio has way more influence and power than McKenzie’s first hire, Dennis Allen. Head coaches around the league enjoy a variety of different levels of influence and control over their teams.

Some like Chip Kelly or Bill Belichick run their respective teams with the power of a communist dictator, no move can be made without his direction or approval. Others like Jeff Fisher and Andy Reid prefer a more collaborative effort, with a strong GM who works hand in hand on player personnel.

"“McKenzie will ultimately pull the trigger on draft day, but Del Rio will have a loud voice in the draft room.” Scott Bair"

You would think Del Rio fits in the mold of the latter, a new coach with some major influence, but will none the less relinquish power over the draft to his general manager.

This would seem to make the most sense given Reggie’s recent success in the draft. But what if Del Rio wants more? What if Del Rio is not happy settling for players some one else picked for him?

There is no doubt Del Rio is a strong leader and huge presence no matter where he goes. The former linebacker has been all business since arriving in Oakland, and that didn’t seem to change in todays press conference.

While Reggie appeared in a good, almost jolly mood, Jack was more stoic and seemed hardly in the mood for reporters. After a question from a reporter regarding Del Rio’s influence in the draft room, McKenzie joked ”Can you guys get Jack out of my office?”.

Reggie laughed at his own joke, Jack not so much….

Jan 16, 2015; Alameda, CA, USA; Jack Del Rio (right) shakes hands with Oakland Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie at press conference to announce his hiring as Raiders head coach at the Raiders practice facility. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Del Rio is dead serious about his role with this team, and that seems to include his input in the draft. But how much input should he have?

It is hard to argue McKenzie’s pedigree having worked his way up with one of the most successful teams in the NFL, the Green Bay Packers. Also, last year proved Reggie is finally getting the hang of this draft thing, after a bit of a misstep in 2013. So why mess with a good thing? Let Reggie do Reggie, at least until he proves otherwise.

What is interesting given Del Rio’s strong personality, is we could see McKenzie falter or even second guess himself during the 2015 Draft. Del Rio and McKenize in a power struggle, debating over a prospect during the draft would not be a good look

The Raiders seem to be on the right path, and hopefully a room full of egos will not derail that path. Del Rio deserves respect and a role in the draft process. But in the end the NFL Draft needs to be Reggie’s show, a divided front rarely succeeds in a war-room.