With the Al Davis era officially over, new GM Reggie McKenzie has been forced to build through the draft. An ideology who became familiar with while working with the Green Bay Packers, McKenzie has done a solid job up to this point. No longer are the Oakland Raiders seeking high-priced free-agents but rather finding diamonds in the rough at bargaining rates.
Some prime examples this off-season include LB Nick Roach, LB Kevin Burnett, and CB Mike Jenkins, as all of those players are capable of out- producing the contracts they were given.
In addition to picking up solid free-agents, McKenzie has also done an admirable job on draft day. Gone are the days where the Raiders would reach for WR Darrius Heyward-Bey, just because of his 40-yard speed, although the Raiders did reach for first-round pick D.J. Hayden.
Aside from that pick, the Raiders have been pretty dead on with their picks, evident by drafting offensive lineman Menelik Watson in the second-round and linebacker Sio Moore in the third-round. By building their team through the draft, it enables the Raiders to groom their type of players for the foreseeable future, instead of bringing in a seasoned veteran, and hoping he fits the team’s culture.
Also, when you take into account McKenzie’s philosophy, it’s like a domino effect. Had the Raiders gone in a different direction and sought out a deal for an offensive tackle like Jake Long, they would have found themselves in a bidding war with the St. Louis Rams and Miami Dolphins. Not only that, but they would, in turn, never had drafted the younger alternative Watson if Long was signed long-term. A scenario that would not have been surprising with Davis at the helm, McKenzie has taken a different approach, and it is slowly paying off.
With the Raiders building through the draft, they have a brighter future ahead of them. Not to say the future was not bright when Davis was running the show, but rather having a different perspective surely does not hurt, especially when the Raiders have been vastly underperforming these last few years.
With McKenzie doing things his way, the Raider Nation should all rally around him as he is poised to turn the Raiders back into a formidable powerhouse.