Let’s face it, the NFL draft is a crapshoot. No one knows exactly who a team is going to pick. But it’s the mystery, anticipation, anxiety and hopes a team lands a diamond that draws NFL fans in. And there’s no bigger mystery than perhaps Oakland Raiders General Manager Reggie McKenzie.
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While McKenzie gave us a taste of his draft philosophy, the X’s and O’s of the draft room remain under lock and key, never spoken of in any circumstance. But, hints to the method behind McKenzie’s madness exist. And here are three trends to watch for draft day:
1. Board games: McKenzie hammers the best player available (BPA) mantra.
“We’re going to take the best player, but there are some good defensive players in this draft,” McKenzie said during the team’s pre-draft press conference last Friday. “We’re going to follow our board, like always.”
But, here’s the kicker: It’s McKenzie’s best player, not the consensus, remember that. While Kiper, Mayock and the slew of other analyst promote and pronounce their board and rankings, McKenzie’s board differs.
2. Visits: McKenzie’s first-round picks don’t visit the team’s facilities in Oakland/Alameda prior to selection.
Khalil Mack, Amari Cooper and Karl Joseph (first rounders from 2014-2016) first arrived to HQ during their respective introductory press conferences. The outlier inall this was D.J. Hayden who not only had a visit but a private workout (most likely to ensure the coaching staff Hayden was good to go after the traumatic injury while at Houston).
Could this change with the Raiders now picking in the later stages of the first round?
3. Senior-itis: McKenzie has picked 41 players during his tenure as GM and a whopping 36 were seniors at their respective institutions. That’s 88 percent. Many of those picks served as team captains. Plus, it’s clear McKenzie prides himself on having not only a more mature but also a leader-infused draft class.
McKenzie isn’t averse to taking underclassmen. He made notable exceptions in Amari Cooper, Mario Edwards Jr. and Menelik Watson. The trio headed into the draft as juniors.
The statistics only back up the trend.