Raiders brass will convene in Indianapolis this week with a long list of things to check. The NFL scouting combine, which doubles as a convention of agents, scouts, coaches, draftees (and lowly scribes), offers plenty to do during this seven-day flurry of activity.
On-field tests and at-the-podium press conferences are the main attraction for near-nonstop television coverage, but there’s much more to be mined from the experience.
As with most teams, the Raiders value the unique opportunity to get face time and medical evaluations on these nationally prospects. It adds to an ever-growing profile on prospective draftees, and the meetings and physicals are a vital part of the process.
In terms of exactly how fast a 40-yard dash is run or how high one jumps, the tangible numbers only accent an evaluation. The Raiders like to see a player compete under pressure, whether it’s in a competitive bowl or a college all-star game. While the Raiders need a quarterback, possibly from the No. 5 overall spot, that won't be their sole focus. They need impact players across both units, and must find the best regardless of position.
A combine performance won’t make or break an individual, especially with a pro day down the pike. It's but one piece of a larger puzzle that helps the Raiders find players they truly want.
Head coach Dennis Allen will speak publicly late Thursday morning, for the first time since his post-season press conference.
[RELATED: McKenzie averse to using 2014 franchise tag]
Outside all that, the Raiders will work hard behind the scenes. They’re expected to contact representatives for some of their own free agents – Lamarr Houston and Jared Veldheer included – during a period where contract negotiations generally start to heat up.
Interest from outside free agents will be unofficially gathered as well, setting a primer for March 8, when teams can negotiate with other free agents prior to the March 11 start of free agency.
The combine will help set a primer for talent acquisition on the professional and college level, a crucial period for a team with so many needs during as important an offseason as any in franchise history.
The Raiders have seven draft picks – minus a fifth-rounder, plus a seventh – and plenty of money to spend on free agents they target. General manager Reggie McKenzie plans on using his money wisely, to keep the Raiders in solid salary-cap standing. He’d like to retain some of his own players, with Veldheer, Houston and Rashad Jennings chief among them, but he won’t dramatically alter his market evaluation to keep them.
The Raiders should have a better idea of whom they’re going to pick and who they’re going to sign once this hectic week is over.