Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Reggie McKenzie, Home Run Hitter

I have to laugh when folks defend Reggie McKenzie's first complete draft as general manager of the Raiders in 2013.

It was not a good draft. For our first pick, we selected a CB who was recuperating from a life-threatening injury. For our second pick, we selected a lineman who'd been playing the game of football for less than three years. More than two years later, both have yet to demonstrate value comparable to their draft slots. They smacked of projects at the time, and they still look like projects, which is exactly what a rebuilding team didn't need: multi-year projects. The decision making was nothing short of bizarre in the first two rounds.

In the third round, we got Sio Moore (Associated Press headline last week: "Sio Moore Fighting for Spot on Team). In the fourth round, we drafted a quarterback who was demoted to the practice squad before the start of the season.

Latavius Murray and Mychal Rivera in the sixth round were nice gets, but not enough to salvage the earlier missteps.

Those who defend the 2013 draft apparently don't know what a good draft looks like, which is odd, because they've had a front-row seat to what a good draft actually looks like, because Reggie McKenzie has turned in a couple over the past two years. 

In the first two rounds (the money rounds) of the 2014 draft, Reggie grabbed what looks like a Hall-of-Fame caliber talent in Kahlil Mack, and a possible long-term starting quarterback in Derek Carr. He followed that up with a what looks looks like a game-changing WR in Amari Cooper in the first round this year. Mario Edwards in the second round looks pretty strong, too. 

Talk about an about-face. Talk about hitting some home runs. Talk about back-to-back  triumphs. Those are really good drafts, if not truly great (we need to play some games first).

It's no secret that I have been critical of Reggie McKenzie. I still am when I think it's merited. I think our free agency execution has been lacking, and I think that, combined with a bad draft in 2013, has led to a snail's pace on the comeback trail. I'm not sure why we had to wait three years for Jack Del Rio to come in and inform the organization that it needed to get its football facilities up to standard

So while I don't give Reggie and A-grade as general manager so far, he seems to have aced the past two drafts as far as the money rounds are concerned.

I've always said that elite talent never takes long to assert itself. That's why Amari Cooper is already our #1 receiver, why Derek Carr beat out Matt Schaub to cement his position as the starting QB as a rookie, and why Kahlil Mack is already renowned across the NFL. 

Kudos to Reggie for a pair of drafts that have netted us one, two or possibly three of the finest talents we've seen on a Raiders roster in a long time (kickers excepted). It gives us something to watch and to be excited about headed into 2016.


Blogger nyraider said...

The path to the Jack Del Rio era has been troublesome.

2012 was a perfect storm of inexperience, right down the organizational chain... rookie owner, rookie GM, rookie HC, rookie DC, etc.. Add failed former Raiders OC redux. What could go wrong... Right?!

IMO, Raiders are just now catching up to what should have been constructed back then, had someone like JDR been hired to properly set the stage for rebuilding. Instead, Raiders spent three years mostly spinning their wheels in the mud, littered with questionable personnel decisions.

In terms of the draft, Mack was an absolute no-brainer, with Cooper close behind; and Carr fell into our lap. Picks like this should be the rule, not the exception, when you're regularly picking in the top 5.

In 2013, Hayden and Watson were not worthy. Both may be solid prospects, but nowhere near the Raiders' high round draft rankings.

Watching Hayden screening WRs with both hands or putting them in head locks after getting beat in coverage is scary enough, but to watch the Raiders do nothing about it, IMO, tells us they are prepared to write off another season, assuming guys like Manning, Rivers and Cassel can consistently exploit that weakness....

Thankfully, Mack, Carr, Cooper, Jackson and a few others give hope for the future.

7:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1 Kansas City Chiefs Eric Fisher OT Central Michigan
1 2 Jacksonville Jaguars Luke Joeckel OT Texas A&M
1 3 Miami Dolphins Dion Jordan DE Oregon
1 4 Philadelphia Eagles Lane Johnson OT Oklahoma
1 5 Detroit Lions Ezekiel Ansah DE BYU
1 6 Cleveland Browns Barkevious Mingo DE LSU
1 7 Arizona Cardinals Jonathan Cooper G North Carolina
1 8 St. Louis Rams Tavon Austin WR West Virginia
1 9 New York Jets Dee Milliner CB Alabama
1 10 Tennessee Titans Chance Warmack G Alabama
1 11 San Diego Chargers D. J. Fluker OT Alabama
1 12 Oakland Raiders D. J. Hayden CB Houston
1 13 New York Jets Sheldon Richardson DT Missouri
1 14 Carolina Panthers Star Lotulelei DT Utah
1 15 New Orleans Saints Kenny Vaccaro S Texas
1 16 Buffalo Bills E. J. Manuel QB Florida State
1 17 Pittsburgh Steelers Jarvis Jones LB Georgia
1 18 San Francisco 49ers Eric Reid S LSU
1 19 New York Giants Justin Pugh G Syracuse
1 20 Chicago Bears Kyle Long G Oregon
1 21 Cincinnati Bengals Tyler Eifert TE Notre Dame
1 22 Atlanta Falcons Desmond Trufant CB Washington
1 23 Minnesota Vikings Sharrif Floyd DT Florida
1 24 Indianapolis Colts Björn Werner DE Florida State
1 25 Minnesota Vikings Xavier Rhodes CB Florida State
1 26 Green Bay Packers Datone Jones DE UCLA
1 27 Houston Texans DeAndre Hopkins WR Clemson
1 28 Denver Broncos Sylvester Williams DT North Carolina
1 29 Minnesota Vikings Cordarrelle Patterson WR Tennessee
1 30 St. Louis Rams Alec Ogletree LB Georgia
1 31 Dallas Cowboys Travis Frederick C Wisconsin
1 32 Baltimore Ravens Matt Elam S Florida
2 33 Jacksonville Jaguars Johnathan Cyprien S Florida International
2 34 Tennessee Titans Justin Hunter WR Tennessee
2 35 Philadelphia Eagles Zach Ertz TE Stanford
2 36 Detroit Lions Darius Slay CB Mississippi State
2 37 Cincinnati Bengals Giovani Bernard RB North Carolina
2 38 San Diego Chargers Manti Te'o LB Notre Dame
2 39 New York Jets Geno Smith QB West Virginia
2 40 San Francisco 49ers Tank Carradine DE Florida State
2 41 Buffalo Bills Robert Woods WR USC
2 42 Oakland Raiders Menelik Watson OT Florida State
2 43 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Johnthan Banks CB Mississippi State
2 44 Carolina Panthers Kawann Short DT Purdue
2 45 Arizona Cardinals Kevin Minter LB LSU
2 46 Buffalo Bills Kiko Alonso LB Oregon
2 47 Dallas Cowboys Gavin Escobar TE San Diego State
2 48 Pittsburgh Steelers Le'Veon Bell RB Michigan State
2 49 New York Giants Johnathan Hankins DT Ohio State
2 50 Chicago Bears Jonathan Bostic LB Florida
2 51 Washington Redskins David Amerson CB N.C. State
2 52 New England Patriots Jamie Collins LB Southern Miss
2 53 Cincinnati Bengals Margus Hunt DE SMU
2 54 Miami Dolphins Jamar Taylor CB Boise State
2 55 San Francisco 49ers Vance McDonald TE Rice
2 56 Baltimore Ravens Arthur Brown LB Kansas State
2 57 Houston Texans D. J. Swearinger S South Carolina
2 58 Denver Broncos Montee Ball RB Wisconsin
2 59 New England Patriots Aaron Dobson WR Marshall
2 60 Atlanta Falcons Robert Alford CB Southeastern Louisiana
2 61 Green Bay Packers Eddie Lacy RB Alabama

7:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

62 Seattle Seahawks Christine Michael RB Texas A&M
3 63 Kansas City Chiefs Travis Kelce TE Cincinnati
3 64 Jacksonville Jaguars Dwayne Gratz CB Connecticut
3 65 Detroit Lions Larry Warford G Kentucky
3 66 Oakland Raiders Sio Moore LB Connecticut
3 67 Philadelphia Eagles Bennie Logan DT LSU
3 68 Cleveland Browns Leon McFadden CB San Diego State
3 69 Arizona Cardinals Tyrann Mathieu CB LSU
3 70 Tennessee Titans Blidi Wreh-Wilson CB Connecticut
3 71 St. Louis Rams T. J. McDonald S USC
3 72 New York Jets Brian Winters G Kent State
3 73 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Mike Glennon QB N.C. State
3 74 Dallas Cowboys Terrance Williams WR Baylor
3 75 New Orleans Saints Terron Armstead OT Arkansas-Pine Bluff
3 76 San Diego Chargers Keenan Allen WR California
3 77 Miami Dolphins Dallas Thomas G Tennessee
3 78 Buffalo Bills Marquise Goodwin WR Texas
3 79 Pittsburgh Steelers Markus Wheaton WR Oregon State
3 80 Dallas Cowboys J. J. Wilcox S Georgia Southern
3 81 New York Giants Damontre Moore DE Texas A&M
3 82 New Orleans Saints John Jenkins DT Georgia
3 83 New England Patriots Logan Ryan CB Rutgers
3 84 Cincinnati Bengals Shawn Williams S Georgia
3 85 Washington Redskins Jordan Reed TE Florida
3 86 Indianapolis Colts Hugh Thornton G Illinois
3 87 Seattle Seahawks Jordan Hill DT Penn State
3 88 San Francisco 49ers Corey Lemonier DE Auburn
3 89 Houston Texans Brennan Williams OT North Carolina
3 90 Denver Broncos Kayvon Webster CB South Florida
3 91 New England Patriots Duron Harmon S Rutgers
3 92 St. Louis Rams Stedman Bailey WR West Virginia
3 93 Miami Dolphins Will Davis CB Utah State
3 94 Baltimore Ravens Brandon Williams DT Missouri Southern State
3 95 Houston Texans Sam Montgomery DE LSU
3 96 Kansas City Chiefs Knile Davis RB Arkansas
3 97 Tennessee Titans Zaviar Gooden LB Missouri
4 98 Philadelphia Eagles Matt Barkley QB USC
4 99 Kansas City Chiefs Nico Johnson LB Alabama
4 100 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Akeem Spence DT Illinois
4 101 Jacksonville Jaguars Ace Sanders WR South Carolina
4 102 New England Patriots Josh Boyce WR TCU
4 103 Arizona Cardinals Alex Okafor DE Texas
4 104 Miami Dolphins Jelani Jenkins LB Florida
4 105 Buffalo Bills Duke Williams S Nevada
4 106 Miami Dolphins Dion Sims TE Michigan State
4 107 Tennessee Titans Brian Schwenke C California
4 108 Carolina Panthers Edmund Kugbila G Valdosta State
4 109 Green Bay Packers David Bakhtiari OT Colorado
4 110 New York Giants Ryan Nassib QB Syracuse
4 111 Pittsburgh Steelers Shamarko Thomas S Syracuse
4 112 Oakland Raiders Tyler Wilson QB Arkansas
4 113 St. Louis Rams Barrett Jones G Alabama
4 114 Dallas Cowboys B.W. Webb CB William & Mary
4 115 Pittsburgh Steelers Landry Jones QB Oklahoma
4 116 Arizona Cardinals Earl Watford G James Madison
4 117 Chicago Bears Khaseem Greene LB Rutgers
4 118 Cincinnati Bengals Sean Porter LB Texas A&M
4 119 Washington Redskins Phillip Thomas S Fresno State
4 120 Minnesota Vikings Gerald Hodges LB Penn State
4 121 Indianapolis Colts Khaled Holmes C USC
4 122 Green Bay Packers J.C. Tretter

7:20 PM  
Anonymous Raider Nate 75 said...

If I remember right, the Raiders traded down with the Eagles that year in the first round; so the Raiders could have had Dee Milliner (CB) who is far better and progressed than Hayden. But look at some of the other names here after our #12:
Kenny Vacaro, Kyle Long, Giovani Bernard. We could have stayed at #4 and taken Fluker and then Kiko Alonso with the 2nd Round pick!
It is amazing to see how some of these decisions were no brainers. They can talk all they want about how Hayden could have gone later in the first round, but the bottom line is he wasn't on most people's radar, and neither was Watson. Not that high in the draft. Maybe 3 and 4th rounds they were, but not first and second.
I wonder how much Reggie lets the coach have influence on who they pick as well. I definitely think Del Rio had an impact on this year's draft. How much of an impact did Allen have on the draft this year?

9:21 AM  
Blogger nyraider said...

Many players taken in this year's draft are reported to have known ties with coaches and assistants brought in under Del Rio, some of whom came up from the college ranks. Makes you wonder how much influence anyone with the Raiders scouting department has had this year.

10:28 AM  
Blogger Raider Take said...

2013 happened. And the discussion would probably be over if some weren't still insisting that it was a solid draft. It wasn't. It was a poor draft, even bizarre, and it came at a particularly bad time for the team and for Reggie.

That said, Reggie has now had three complete drafts, and he seems to have aced two of them. That's a pretty good record as far as NFL drafting goes. The last two drafts were so much better than 2013 it's not even close.

I still think that there are some serious depth issues aggravated by questionable free agency behavior, and that the pace of overall improvement has been overly slow.

But props are due where props are earned. One thing Reggie couldn't do after 2013 was f*** up the next draft, or the next one. He didn't. He stepped up to the plate and delivered on both.

Mack, Carr and Cooper are his guys, and they are already our linchpins. Job well done, and something to be excited about.

10:37 AM  
Blogger Raider Take said...

I don't know, NY. It's easy to say that it was a no-brainer to pick a guy like Mack, but the fact is he did it. As for JDR possibly influencing picks, well Reggie hired JDR so if JDR is helping improve draft execution, it's still a win for Reggie.

I've always said that the buck stops with the GM (or de facto GM in the case of Al Davis), for better or worse or in between.

10:41 AM  
Blogger nyraider said...

RT, did Reggie hire Del Rio? I remember it was Mark Davis that stated he would take a bigger role in the HC hiring process (due to McKenzie's past failures), and it was Davis who flew (coach - pun intended) to Denver to meet with Del Rio. I don't doubt McKenzie was somehow involved but I doubt hiring Del Rio was McKenzie's decision to make....

I agree that the buck stops at the top, for better or worse, and there have been some good decisions made. But I also agree with Raider Nate's philosophy of "just prove it, baby!"

Del Rio talks about changing the culture. Presumably, he means the culture that Reggie and Dennis Allen hatched, or at least that Reggie watched over during his three years as GM prior to the new and improved DJR era.

12:16 PM  
Blogger Raider Take said...

I hear you. For example, I wonder why we needed JDR to come in and say we can't have substandard training facilities like this, four years into Reggie's reign. So I'm not disputing JDR's role/influence.

So maybe JDR was more of a Davis hire. But then again, who knows, maybe Davis has negatively meddled in Reggie's free agency moves or other areas.

What I know for certain is that a GM's job is to manage the football operations and be the guiding hand responsible for the performance of facilities, scouting, draft, free agency and coaching staff.

And so I evaluate Reggie (and before him, Mr. Davis) on the basis of those things.

12:34 PM  
Anonymous Raider Nate 75 said...

Do you guys see any surprises coming in cuts? I hate to say it, but Sio Moore may get cut. He's been a beast, and I think can be a premiere LB, but for some reason is not jelling with the new coaching staff. I think they brought in Lorenzo to see if they could light a fire under him. Not sure if he gets cut, but the coaching staff has made it clear that they haven't seen enough of him and he's on the bubble. They need to do that with Hayden.

I think George Atkinson or Tawain Jones gets the axe, only one of them not both. Whomever loses the KR/PR position. I also think Andre Holmes and Shelby Harris are cut. Here's how I think the 53-man roster plays:
WR - Crabtree, Streater, Roberts
LT - Penn, Barnes
LG - Jackson, Feliciano
C - Hudson, Feliciano
RG - Webb, McCants
RT - Howard, Kistler
TE - Rivera, Smith, Walford
WR - Cooper, Butler, Wylie
QB - Carr, McGloin, Ponder
RB - Murray, Dyer, Helu, Jones
FB - Reece, Olawale
(27 offensive players)

DE - Tuck, Edwards Jr
DT - Williams, Wilson
NT - Ellis, McGee
DE - Mack, Mayowa
SAM- Armstrong, Ball
MIKE-Lofton, Heeney
WILL-Smith, Moore or Lorenzo Alexander
LCB -McGill, Hayden, Edwards
RCB -Carrie, Thorp
FS - Allen, Ross
SS - Woodson, Asante
(23 Defensive players)

Special Teams:
LS - Condo
K - Jano
P - King
KR - Jones
PR - Carrie
(3 Specialists)

2:36 PM  
Blogger nyraider said...

Nate - My take is Sio Moore was off the radar until Allen and Co coached him in the Senior Bowl. Ray Ray Armstrong has come in and played with greater intensity and athleticism. Ray Ray is still a bit raw but may have more upside than Moore. Meanwhile, Curtis Lofton and Malcolm Smith were significant upgrades for the other two LB spots, so much so Raiders moved Mack to DE.

I think Streater is on the bubble. He struggled the other night, while Roberts stock went up. I think Holmes sticks. Or maybe Durham because of his height.

TE is easy, and marks the first time in a long time the Raiders look very promising.

Bergstrom is listed as the backup for Hudson, so I think he sticks; although, he has been far less than advertised since drafted for Knapp's ZBS. Meanwhile, Raiders still appear very weak on the right side of the OL.

T Jones makes the team on special teams alone, but he could be a serious producer at RB. There's something fundamentally appealing to giving the ball to the fastest guy on the field.

I'd hate to see the Raiders cut Denico Autry after his performance the other night. Hate to say, but I'd rather see them cut Tuck... though I'm a big fan Tuck, he's not the player he once was and he's not part of any long-term plan. Obviously, you have to weigh his presence as a vet leader of the team.

Interesting you put McGloin ahead of Ponder. I agree, but I doubt the coaches see it that way.

Taylor Mays was brought in for a reason. He might stick.


3:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Reggie has aced last two drafts?

Here is my take.

2013 an abomination one guy will be starting on opening day from that draft this year.

I hope you are right but so far guys from the 15 draft have yet to play a down. Yes Cooper looks like he has a great future, but Edwards, Walford? You really are giving the benefit of the doubt. The rest who knows.

2014, I agree it was a very solid draft . Mack is one of the best LBs in the league. Carr (I agree with NY Carr fell into our lap) the book is still out lets see what he does this year but I will say there is some promise there. Jackson, Carrie, and Ellis seem to be starters perhaps Jackson will be a solid one, Carrie is starting out of default and two down players like Ellis don't have a lot of value.

Balanced the above against horrendous FA signings for three plus years and a terrible coaching hire in Allen, in the final analysis Reggie is awful, comes across as dim-witted and I would love to see him get fired. The most damning evidence is that of 22 guys who start this year on open day its hard to see more than half back and starting next year. Sadly that might be a huge improvement for Reggie but after 4 years the progress is way too slow


4:09 PM  
Blogger nyraider said...

With the exception of McGloin and Roberts, everyone who played tonight could (perhaps should) be cut. OL was horrendous!

One thing for certain, Raiders lack depth behind their starters.

9:31 PM  
Anonymous Raider00 said...

Reggie Mckenzie..Home run hitter...

...Yes, with 2 outs in bottom of ninth, Reggie, having struck out 3 previous at bats, steps to plate.

With team trailing by 10 runs,(30 runs if playing (Denver)Rockies), Reggie closes his eyes, and takes a hard swing. Lucky Reg,(=unlucky fans), gets one in the air. Suddenly a big gust of wind,(I am Raider), blows and helps carry ball just over fence.

Reggie starts toward 3rd base, until his teammates correct him, sending him in the right direction toward 1st. Reggie crosses home plate as his team will lose 10-1.

Reggie talks to press after game, but no one can understand what he is saying.

The next night Reggie comes to bat with chance to win game, but strikes out looking.

There is no joy in Raiderville, the mighty Reggie has struck out.

11:24 PM  
Blogger Raider Take said...

Now that was funny, Raider 00.

Tough crowd here.

I can't complain about these last two drafts. Mack and Cooper are looking like elite talents.

When is the last time we had an elite non-kicker player through the draft of free agency? (I'm not talking about a Sapp or Seymour past their prime, or a guy like Moss dogging it around, but a perennial pro-bowler). 11 or 12 years, at least?

Now it looks like we might have two acquired through the past two drafts? That's an accomplishment to be lauded.

(caveat: they need to play some games)

6:25 AM  
Anonymous Raider Nate 75 said...

I thought McGill would earn the starter spot at CB over Hayden, until Lockett beat him last night on what should have been an easy play for him.
One thing to watch is what Baltimore does with their CBs. Asa Jackson put together a nice preseason for them, along with Cassius Vaughn, Kyle Arrington, and Rashaan Melvin. But they cannot keep all of those guys. If Asa Jackson is cut, I would pursue him immediately, plus he would be a great KR. The KR spot may be the factor that keeps Jackson in Baltimore, but then they have to cut Arrington or Melvin, maybe both. Patriots maybe cutting Robert McClain as well (another above average CB). Watch the RBs too. We may not get a "stellar" player, but we need people who can add value. McClain would add immediate value at CB, and so would Asa Jackson. Javier Arenas would add value as well.

So there is a lot to watch for the next few days. I think Sio is gone, if the Raiders keep him, it's for trade bait; but trades usually do not happen in the NFL, so I think he will be cut. Horrible DB play last night, horrible blocking, and horrible running game.

8:49 AM  
Blogger nyraider said...

Edwards, Jr. was a bit of a head scratcher in Rd 2. We badly needed a pass rusher and this kid had like 8 career sacks in college. There were other DEs with better resumes. I read at least one media report that Edwards has a tendency to take plays off (doesn't play as hard on every play). Even Edwards said in an interview that he understands this (NFL) is now his job... but it's tough to teach an old dog new tricks. If he's lazy, it could be costly. Too early to say.

Getting a strong pass rush has never been more critical than this year, due to the lack of quality and depth at CB. Russell Wilson threw one pass last night; a 63-yard TD pass which McGill tripped in coverage. To be fair, McGill showed some coverage skills later in the game, and might still be a better option than Hayden, but both these guys will be on the field a lot. It could get dicey.

8:59 AM  
Blogger Raider Take said...

New take is up, and you're gonna love it.

10:17 AM  

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