The Chicago Bears getting Khalil Mack was a stellar move for them. However, to automatically declare them the unequivocal winner of the trade with the Oakland Raiders — without seeing whom the draft picks are and how they play — is asinine.
I can surely understand why that absurd notion exists because there is a palpable aura of skepticism. Raiders decision-maker Jon Gruden has a topsy turvy draft selection resume and, as the shot caller on all things Silver & Black, not even the addition of well-respected Mike Mayock as general manager changes that fact.
What Gruden is as a football junkie, Mayock is the the draft junkie. Both are maniacal when it comes to their respective professions.
Mayock, a longtime draft analyst on television, talks, thinks and operates like a seasoned NFL scout. His opinion and dissection of prospects is relied upon by both media and NFL personnel alike. He lives and breathes prospects and digests reports for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Outstanding traits, however, Mayock’s lack of NFL executive experience immediately brought up two words: Yes Man.
Usually, a GM reports only to the owner and has final veto power on the roster. Mayock, obviously, will not have that kind of stroke. That’s all Gruden, baby.
Playing into that notion is Mayock himself.
“In all honesty, Jon’s got final say, if it ever comes to that. And I’ve got zero problems with that,” Mayock told ESPN’s Steve Levy before Monday night’s National Championship tilt between Alabama and Clemson in Santa Clara, Calif.
In essence, Mayock fills the role of director of player personnel, the right-hand man of the GM (de facto is Gruden). The focus of the DPP is player evaluation, recruiting, player support and working with the coaching staff. That shouldn’t be an issue for Mayock who has known Gruden and Raiders defensive coordinator Paul Guenther for years.
Mayock likely doesn’t have to delve too deep in contract negotiations as Tom Delaney, Shaun Herock, and others handle that.
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What Mayock must do is pound the table, pine hard for prospects and challenge Gruden’s sanity come draft day in April and, before that, free agency in March. The viability of the Raiders requires Mayock to be a hellraiser in that draft room. The former analyst with the East Coast lisp sounds game.
“Now, having said that, I think we’re going to come to a consensus and I like a little yelling, a little screaming, a little fighting for what player you believe in,” Mayock said. “But at the end of the day, I guarantee you, Jon Gruden and I are going to know what a Raider looks like and smells like. I don’t think we’re going to have any issues.”
There is a lot of moving parts around Mayock. In addition, if even one falters, the whole Raiders machine is going to come to a grinding terrible halt. Moreover, there’s plenty of evidence to show that is a highly plausible outcome.
“This is the first time I got out of the building, I think, in a week, and I’m not even kidding you,” Mayock said on Monday. “It’s been awesome. I’ve been a little overwhelmed with some of the non-football duties that go along with being a GM, and you’ve got to kind of prioritize, get yourself back to the tape, because that’s the reason I’m there in the first place.”
Nevertheless, like the trade with the Bears — whether you agree with it or not — the outcome cannot be definitively said yet.
First, we must bear witness to the names Roger Goodell announces at the podium when the Raiders selections are made in April and see how Gruden and his coaches can develop the prospects.
“We’ve got a great head coach (Gruden) and a great quarterback (Derek Carr), we’ve got three first-round picks this year, two next year and a little money to spend in free agency,” Mayock said with a smile.
Then, and only then, can a stamp of approval or refusal be emphatically stamped on the latest Raiders experiment.