Expectations are running high in the East Bay and all across Raider Nation worldwide. If the 2015 season was any indication, the Raiders are on the right path back to glory. Oakland finished with a 7-9 record, an impressive four game improvement from the abysmal 2014 season.
Oakland’s quest for respectability began in March of 2016 with bold moves through free agency. The Raiders worked on both sides of the ball with fan pleasing signings that included linebacker Bruce Irvin, safety Reggie Nelson and offensive lineman Kelechi Osemele. Oakland also brought back key players tackle Donald Penn, wide receiver Andre Holmes and safety Nate Allen, who all returned to the silver and black.
Oakland’s next move comes in the form of the 2016 National Football League (NFL) draft on Thursday, April 28. The Raiders hold the 14th overall pick in the draft and have a total of eight picks to work with. On Friday, April 22 Raiders General Manager Reggie McKenzie and Head Coach Jack Del Rio held their 2016 Pre-Draft Press Conference at the team’s Alameda, California facility.
The two addressed the media for approximately 30 minutes on a wide variety of topics about the upcoming draft and the future of the team. When asked “How does this year’s draft position (14) compare to recent years?” McKenzie replied, “It’s different picking 14, I would prefer picking 32nd but you deal with it. This is different than picking top five because you have a better guess of who is going to be available to you when you pick in the top five, where at 14 you really don’t know.” He went on to add; “Our philosophy has not changed. We want to land the best guy available at any point in the draft.”
It is no secret what it means to be an Oakland Raider, the words “Toughness” “Gritty” or even “Relentless” come to mind. When McKenzie was asked “Without giving away the identity of the player or players name, have they found a ‘True Raider’ in this year’s draft?”
To that query, the GM said: “We hope to bring in some. We are hopeful to get some Raider type guys in here; we know what kind of guys we want on our team.”
The draft is always a crapshoot where it takes time to develop a player or declare him a bust. Oakland has seen it both ways since their arrival in 1960. In recent years Oakland has found value in second round or later picks such as quarterback Derek Carr in 2014 (second round), running back Latavius Murray in the sixth round of the 2013 draft and tight end Clive Walford in the third round of the 2015 draft. However, the Raiders have cashed in on their first round picks as well, drafting All-Pro linebacker Khalil Mack in the first round of the 2014 draft and most recently wide receiver Amari Cooper in 2015.