Reggie McKenzie had to wait a long time to make his first draft choice with the Oakland Raiders, but in the end he got the guy he wanted. Reggie conducts his drafts completely unlike Raider teams of yore, focusing less on measurable and more on actual football ability. In Tony Bergstrom, McKenzie feels like he selected a player who brings a lot to the table. CSN Bay Area had some quotes from McKenzie in a Q&A:
"McKenzie: The one thing, the guy's a football player. He's tough, he plays with great football intelligence, he understands the game. He is a physical football player. Tough. And that's what you want. He's got size, he's got good movement skills, he knows how to use his hands. He's gonna help us up front. The coaches I'm pretty sure will be excited once he gets here. Because he's going to show those guys he's a football player."
The Raiders are lacking any serious depth in their offensive line rotation. McKenzie expresses faith in Bergstrom's ability to contribute depth at every position.
"McKenzie: The one thing he has is that versatility. I mean, he's been a tackle. He played some guard in the Senior Bowl, we know he can play that. So, the bottom line is his versatility is going to afford us to do a lot of things and it will help our offense tremendously. We will probably take a look at him at guard initially, make sure he can play that, and play that well."
The Raiders were very reluctant to reach even though they have a lot of needs on both sides of the ball. It was important to them that they trust their board and not give into the temptation to pick a lower-rated player to fill a perceived hole. This process was likely made easier by the fact that McKenzie filled all the vacant starting positions on the team through free agency, so there was no need to reach for any player.
McKenzie:"But yeah, you know, going into this thing we wanted to add depth to the entire team. Both sides of the ball and so in doing that you cannot reach down and pick a need two or three rounds lower just because it fulfills a need. We wanted to make sure that we picked the right player who we had on the board and who we liked, you know? So, we want to pick the best player, and that's what we did."
It is refreshing as someone who follows the Raiders to have a man in charge of the team who drafts the right way and builds the team from the inside out, starting with the trenches, and never panics or makes questionable moves out of sheer desperation or an infatuation with measurables. I suspect Saturday's draft will look much like Friday's- with the Raiders taking the player they deem the best, regardless of position.