Grading Oakland Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie


Oakland Raiders’ general manager Reggie McKenzie hasn’t had an easy ride from the jump with the Raiders. The cards were stacked against him from the beginning coming in with the worst salary cap situation in the NFL in 2012. McKenzie was handed a team with overrated players with high price tags and no draft picks.

McKenzie’s first action as the man in charge of the Raiders after the passing of Al Davis was firing the one coach who had the team playing above average football in Hue Jackson. Jackson had the offense of the Raiders ranked fourth in the AFC and sixth in the NFL in 2010 as the offensive coordinator. He was then named head coach in 2011 after the firing of Coach Tom Cable, and he went 8-8 as a head coach.

McKenzie hired current head coach Dennis Allen in 2012, after Allen was the Denver Broncos’ defensive coordinator in 2011, to be his second in command. Allen has gone 4-12 in back-to-back seasons and is currently 0-3 in this 2014 NFL season. Allen has been even keel as coach of the Raiders, something most fans have had a problem with. McKenzie has yet to come out and show his frustration in Allen even after the bad starts.

McKenzie’s first draft pick was Tony Bergstrom in the third round, a zone blocking offensive guard who has been moved to third string after the Raiders decided to fire offensive coordinator Greg Knapp and his zone blocking scheme. The rest of that 2012 NFL Draft was LB Miles Burris, DE Jack Crawford, WR Juron Criner, DT Christo Bilukidi, and LB Nathan Stupar. All but Burris and Bergstrom are not with the Raiders anymore.

More from Las Vegas Raiders News

McKenzie’s 2013 Draft was also a bust, as he drafted CB D.J Hayden, OT Menelik Watson, LB Sio Moore, QB Tyler Wilson, TE Nick Kasa, RB Latavius Murray, Mychal Rivera, DT Stacy McGee, WR Brice Butler, and DE David Bass.

Hayden who was the first first-round pick for McKenzie has been plagued by injuries since coming into the league. Hayden was a risky pick coming off of heart surgery that could’ve ended his football career in college.

McKenzie moved back from the third overall selection in the 2013 draft to the 12th spot and passed up DT Star Lotulelei who has been a force with the Carolina Panthers. Moore has been the only bright spot from the last previous drafts.

The 2014 NFL Draft has been McKenzie’s best draft (so far) with starters up and down the roster. First round pick LB Khalil Mack and second round pick QB Derek Carr are the bright spots so far in the draft class. The Raiders finally have young leaders on both sides of the ball that can grow and lead the team in the direction of winning.

Third round pick OG Gabe Jackson is another solid pick for McKenzie starting on the offensive line for the Raiders and helping Carr and running backs Maurice Jones-Drew and Darren McFadden move down field for the foreseeable future.

The rest of 2014 class (DT Justin Ellis, CB Keith McGill, CB Travis Carrie, DE Shelby Harris, and safety Jonathan Dowling) are picks that still need some time to grow but are good picks nonetheless, and Raider Nation should be extremely happy with these players.

Player acquisitions have not been McKenzie’s forte and are probably the one thing that can cause him to get fired. Trading for quarterbacks Matt Flynn and Matt Schaub were his worst decisions to this day. Giving up draft picks and contract extensions to quarterbacks that end up getting beaten out by the likes of Terrell Pryor (who’s a free agent after being cut by the Seattle Seahawks) don’t help improve a GM’s resume.

McKenzie swung and missed when he stepped up to the plate for Flynn. To go and waste a draft pick on a QB that was beaten out by Russell Wilson after signing a huge contract should’ve given McKenzie cause to pause, but yet he still went out and traded for Flynn.

Live Feed

Bruce Irvin's familiarity with Derek Carr served him well in Lions' debut
Bruce Irvin's familiarity with Derek Carr served him well in Lions' debut /

SideLion Report

  • Will Raiders legend Sebastian Janikowski be a first-ballot Hall of Famer in 2024?Just Blog Baby
  • 3 Players the Oakland/Las Vegas Raiders gave up on way too earlyNFL Spin Zone
  • Can Browns UDFA Lonnie Phelps have a Maxx Crosby breakout? Dawg Pound Daily
  • Las Vegas Raiders: Top-5 wide receivers from the past decadeJust Blog Baby
  • Miami Dolphins Player Preview: Guard Lester CottonPhin Phanatic
  • Schaub, once again, is another QB that McKenzie decided to waste a draft pick on after being a turnover machine with the Houston Texans. Schaub was beaten out this year by Carr who’s definitely the better QB of the two, so now the Raiders are stuck with a very expensive backup QB.

    The philosophy of McKenzie when it comes to acquiring talent is the following: old, Christian, and coming off injury. This isn’t really a winning philosophy and is a sure way to get yourself fired.

    Let’s go down the list of a few players signed by McKenzie. Caution Raider Nation, it might make your stomach hurt, so please have a bucket ready.

    CB Shawntae Spencer, CB Ron Bartell, CB Brandian Ross, KR Josh Cribbs, OL Mike Brisiel, CB Pat Lee, CB Mike Jenkins, OT Alex Barron, CB Terell Brown, DE Lamar Woodley CB Carlos Rodgers, DT Vance Walker and (‘re-signed) S Matt Giordano and OT Khalif Barnes.

    As you can see there’s a whole lot of cornerbacks that were not good choices and still to this day are having a hard time filling the position.

    Honorable mentions: RB Rashad Jennings, DE Justin Tuck, LB Phillip Wheeler, OT Donald Penn, DB Charles Woodson, LB Nick Roach and (‘re-signed) FB Marcel Reece.

    This brings us to the players McKenzie has let go that could’ve helped this 2014 Raiders team.

    Letting go of players like RB Rashad Jennings, DE Lamar Houston, and OT Jared Veldheer are going to be looked at as failures of the GM if they go off and have solid careers with their respective teams. McKenzie was finally able to get out of salary cap hell in 2014 and stayed true to form to his philosophy, but on top of that, he could’ve re-signed players that would’ve helped this team be more competitive.

    McKenzie hasn’t done a great job so far. The one thing he can get credit for is knowing how to juggle a checkbook. Other than that, he’s done a less than average job at the position.

    Final Grade: D+