General managers have quite the workload when it comes to the offseason, often jumping from one period to the next. With the free agency period now dwindling down, Oakland Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie has his eyes set on the upcoming 2017 NFL Draft.
The Raiders secured the No. 24 pick in the first round, after an incredible 12-4 record and trip to the playoffs. This outlook on the draft is quite the difference for McKenzie, with their return to greatness not positioning them in the top 10 picks.
While McKenzie continues to work on defensive bargains and the ongoing Marshawn Lynch saga, he also has to keep in mind what the draft process entails. Both he and head coach Jack Del Rio understand the needs of the team and what positions need to be addressed.
McKenzie sat down for an interview with Raiders.com and explaining the upcoming draft process. In surprising fashion, McKenzie stated that he is more excited about the late round picks and the undrafted prospects as compared to their No. 24 overall selection.
“There is a lot of good opportunity to make this team better, so I’m excited. I’m excited. There is a lot of good players in the draft, unlike a couple, three years ago when picking the top 5 early. It’s different when you picking in the 20s, mid 20s, so now we got to a long time to wait. It’s hard to figure out whose going to be there, but everybody likes to know who your first-round pick is going to be, but we get excited for the second and third day of the draft and post draft and free agency.”
McKenzie does have a point when it comes to the undrafted players, as they have even more of an incentive to show that they belong. In fact, the Raiders had seven players on their 2016 roster that went undrafted.
On the offensive side of the ball, running back Jalen Richard played in all 16 games after going undrafted. He rushed for 491 yards on 83 carries, with one rushing touchdown and two receiving touchdowns. Richard turned into the dynamic option out of the backfield, creating a chance of pace as compared to Latavius Murray.
On the other end of the team, linebacker James Cowser also made a name for himself after missing out on being selected. He signed with the Raiders and turned into an electric special teams player, while contributing to the defense when the depth became thin with injuries. He contributed one sack, one fumble recovery and eight tackles (six solo) in his six games played last season.
With a phenomenal scouting department and general manager who has shown time and time again how reliable he is, the Raiders should be able to address their defensive woes with some outstanding draft selections and steals once the draft is complete.