The Saints got Pro Bowl tight end Jimmy Graham with the 95th overall selection -- the slot where the Raiders will make their first pick Friday. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Tonight, Raiders General Manager Reggie McKenzie will likely be one very frustrated man.
He’ll watch the rest of the NFL take the best talent available in the first round of the NFL Draft, and all he’ll be able to do is scratch names off his draft board.
With no picks tonight, he has no chance to fill any of the many holes he needs to address on offense and defense.
It won’t be until Friday, when he has the 95th overall pick at the bottom of the third round that McKenzie will be able to finally select a player.
The Raiders need defensive linemen to stop the run, linebackers who can tackle and rush the passer, cornerbacks to press receivers, a tight end, a physical running back to back up Darren McFadden and an offensive lineman or two.
Needs, needs everywhere and just five total picks (including one in the fourth round, two in the fifth and one in the sixth).
But those who know McKenzie say that even though he won’t have a selection over the first 94 slots, he’ll be working. He’ll be studying the field, assessing who’s left and waiting to make his move.
McKenzie’s former boss with the Green Bay Packers, Ron Wolf, who admires McKenzie’s ability to identify talent, told the San Francisco Chronicle’s Vittorio Tafur that McKenzie will be waiting to pounce when Pick No. 95 comes up.
“You sit there and watch and hope people make a mistake in front of you,” said Wolf, the former Packers GM. “That’s when it becomes fun. Like when Aaron Rodgers fell to us in Green Bay at 24. We didn’t scout that the best player would fall to us.”
Though the Raiders pick in the mid- to low rounds, McKenzie believes he’ll still be able to get some talented players. His track record as player personnel director in Green Bay was to get high-impact players low in the draft or even as undrafted free agents. So he believes he can make meaningful picks in the third, fourth, fifth and sixth rounds.
He has so many holes to fill, he’ll be looking for the best players available across the board.
“We’ve got five picks,” he told Tafur. “We need to make them all count.”
What kind of a player can the Raiders expect to get with the 95th overall pick? Well, judging by recent history, a good one.
Saints Pro Bowl tight end Jimmy Graham, current 49ers wide receiver Mario Manningham, Bills offensive tackle Jonas Jennings and former veteran running back Michael Pittman were all taken with the 95th pick.