Raiders GM Hides Draft Choices In Plain Sight

Ray Aspuria
Cover32

Will the McKenzie Trend continue? That tendency would be Oakland Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie nabbing a prospect — who never visited the team — in the first round. It occurred during the last three drafts.

Khalil Mack (No. 5 overall, 2014), Amari Cooper (No 4, 2015) and Karl Joseph (No. 17, 2016) were McKenzie’s top picks in those drafts and stepped foot in Oakland or Alameda during the pre-draft process. All three experienced the facilities during their respective introductory press conferences.

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“I thought, ‘I didn’t get an invite or nothing?'” Mack noted during his presser. “It just shows you how this process is, and I’m glad to be here.”

A year later: “I wasn’t that shocked,” Cooper said of the lack of a visit. “I kind of knew they liked me from talking to them at the combine.”

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As they say: “Once is chance. Twice is coincidence. The third time is a pattern.” So it’s reasonable to surmise McKenzie’s first-rounder this coming April may be a kid who never set foot in the East Bay.

Peculiar? Perhaps. Methodical? Surely.

Mack, Cooper and Joseph probably sat atop McKenzie’s draft board. With that said, any further digging or evaluation probably didn’t need to occur. The GM had seen all he needed to and was comfortable. Perhaps the course changes in this year’s draft. After all, McKenzie — barring a trade — will remain in limbo until the 24th overall selection. That’s quite deeper than the Raiders have been picking the last decade-plus.

Just don’t be surprised when the prospect makes the eyebrow raising admission he didn’t hear as much as a peep from the Raiders before being selected.

There’s an outlier to all of this, of course. It was the forgettable selection of DJ Hayden at No. 12 overall (McKenzie traded down) in 2013. The cornerback had a private workout and visit with the Raiders before the draft.

 

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