While the Raider nation is anticipating what direction GM Reggie McKenzie will go with the third overall pick, many of the fans have been mum with his free-agent acquisitions. He did not reach or overpay for big name free-agents, but rather took calculated risks on players with high potential. A smart move on his part. In addition, just as important was his ability to disengage with high profile players such as QB Carson Palmer, DT Tommy Kelly, and LB Rolando McClain. The bold moves quickly gave the Oakland Raiders some much needed breathing room under the salary cap. Now, as they prepare for the 2013 NFL Draft, how has McKenzie fared thus far? If I had to designate a grade, it would have to be a B+.
One of the reasons, McKenzie receives high praise for his off-season efforts, is due to the signings of LB Kevin Burnett, CB Mike Jenkins, and CB Tracy Porter. All of those players are solid and were had at a bargain. McKenzie is taking calculated risks and it seems to be paying off.
And while McKenzie may be gaining high praise from me, how is the Raider nation reacting to the free-agents? I would have to say the feeling is neutral. I asked many Raiders fans about how they felt, and they were disappointed that they did not make a splash for at least one Pro Bowl talent, but rather settling for cheaper alternatives. However, they were not overly upset with the acquisitions, as many of them agreed they were the right moves for the organization.
So the question remains, how much pressure is on McKenzie to succeed? I would have to say, what he chooses to do with the third overall pick will set that in motion. Does he trade down and stockpile more picks or stay put? And if he does stay put, who do they select? With numerous holes to fill, they can be pulled in so many directions. With that said, I believe if McKenzie was smart, he would stay put and draft a sure thing in DT Sharrif Floyd.
Floyd would be the stout defensive tackle that has been missing for years. It all starts up front and should the Raiders stay at number three, Floyd should be the choice. But if McKenzie believes he can add more value and trade down, then do not be surprised if the “boo birds” start to come out, especially if a player they target is not there.
It remains clear that McKenzie is not on the hot seat, but with their first-round pick holding so much weight, that can all change in the blink of an eye.