Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie stopped short of calling his 2014 draft class a home run. He, like most others in his business, knows you can’t fully grade a draft for a few years.
He’s got to know that it went pretty darn well, and helped establish a young foundation the Raiders haven’t had in a while. He also knows the Raiders have a ways to go. While fans prefer to list specific, pressing needs heading into the draft, McKenzie doesn’t believe his team is ready to do that yet. That’s why, as he did last year, McKenzie’s looking for the best player available at each selection.
"You’re talking about seven picks," McKenzie said Wednesday in an interview with SiriusXM NFL radio. "We feel like we need more than seven players, so we’re going to set this draft board right and pick the best player at that particular time."
"If I felt like we just needed three players, then I would say I have an idea of the three (positions) I want. Not at this point. We want to get the best players we can and give our coaching staff and other guys in that locker room the best playmakers possible. … The bottom line is that you want set the draft board and trust it."
The Raiders currently have a selection in all seven rounds, starting with the No. 4 overall pick. He feels 'pretty good' about the top end of the first round if he were to remain in his draft slot.
He always could move down in an attempt to add depth to his foundation, built mostly through the last two drafts. McKenzie’s long-stated preference is to build through the draft and supplement lightly through free agency. He didn’t have that luxury last offseason, forced to fill several holes with veteran free agents while maintaining future salary cap integrity.
That free agent class had bright spots, but too many misses for his liking. McKenzie was happy that young players forced their way into the starting lineup, which may help the Raiders reach for less free-agent volume in the future.
"We didn’t get the production out of some of them that we would’ve liked,” McKenzie said. "When you try and plug in too many veteran free agents, some of them are not going to give you the production."
"That’s why you have to draft well. When you try to be more choosy with who you bring in and what you want out of them, when your roster is stable and you don’t need as many (free agents), that’s where you want to be with your team. We’re trying to move in that direction."