If the “Don’t screw it up” comments from Jon Gruden to Mike Mayock doesn’t strike you as trolling, I don’t know what to say to you. Of course, the statement was made in jest. It’s one of many Gruden-isms made public since the head coach’s return to the Oakland Raiders – nothing more, nothing less.

The Heat

Mayock, the Raiders GM, knows as much. If the team’s draft selections pan out, he’ll be propped up as the hero, the man who picked those cats. If they flop, he’ll be demoted to scapegoat – thank, so long, bye bye.

““The way I look at this thing, from a ‘how do people perceive me’ perspective, is a lot of people doubted that anybody should come out of the media and go be a GM for any team,” Mayock said. “I know that, and I get that, but at the end of the day here’s the deal, if we win everything will be fine and if we lose I’ll get fired, and I’m perfectly fine with that.”

The Hope

Make no mistake: Mayock will have input as he along with the scouts scoured the nation, spoke to, and watched prospects at various games, the combine and pro days. Gruden will wholeheartedly trust the evaluations. In the end, however, there’s one voice making the selections and it will be Gruden.

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While Mayock serves in the talent evaluator role, that’s where his gig begins and ends. It’s Gruden and his coaches that are the talent cultivators. Mayock will provide reports and evals on players that fit the coaching staff’s scheme and ideals, but it’s said coaches that are hands-on on extracting, developing and maximizing prospects’ talents.

The Foundation

What Mayock needs to do is advise Gruden about the advantages and pitfalls of taking prospects. Help sway the mind of a perceived mad genius towards the best interest of the team.

“I’m a son of a coach and I know how coaches think, and coaches think need,” Mayock said. “And we’re a coach-driven building; our coaches are highly involved. That’s good. I embrace that. The flip side is, you can’t reach. You’ve got to use some common sense. And that’s what I preach.

“But if there’s a discount, a disparity between the two [players], let’s not reach for need because the more you do that, the more you dilute your roster. And that’s a conversation we’ve had a lot.”

Suffice it to say, but talent evaluation and prospect grades come easier to Mayock than trying to talk down a headstrong Gruden.


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