On Thursday, Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie talked and talked and talked, yet said very little.
Who does he like in the draft? What are the Raiders’ greatest needs? Will he make draft-day deals?
He wouldn’t say.
But by sidestepping almost every direct question about next week’s NFL draft – the common practice of every league GM these days – McKenzie did make one thing very clear:
The Raiders will surprise people throughout the three-day draft. Many predict McKenzie will trade down to collect more picks, a practice McKenzie has followed, and endorsed, in the past. But he could go against that grain and keep the pick. McKenzie will keep observers and fans guessing right up to the moment when it’s time to announce choices.
When McKenzie was asked if he would stay at No. 5 in the first round, or trade down, he said, “I am open to everything.”
“Whether I stay at that pick, it’s all going to depend on who is calling, where you are moving, who is there when you are picking,” he said. “There are so many variables. I cannot say what I am going to do without a doubt right now.”
McKenzie has been said to be on the hot seat – along with head coach Dennis Allen – going into the 2014 season, because of consecutive 4-12 seasons. So, the thinking has been that the Raiders need to get players in this draft that will help immediately. That the future is now.
That line of thinking would mean that Oakland would pass on taking a quarterback in the first round, now that veteran Matt Schaub has been acquired to lead the offense. But McKenzie said he’s taking a longer view.
“You draft for the future,” he said. “You don’t draft for right now. That’s not the way you do it. That’s not the way I do it.”
Which means that if the Raiders like a quarterback such as Johnny Manziel or Blake Bortles, for instance, they could take him in the first round on May 8 – knowing that a rookie quarterback will spend at least a year waiting for his turn and make no impact on the 2014 season.
McKenzie told Bay Area reporters that he will do his best not to be stubborn and get locked into any line of thinking. Options will be weighed and considered before every selection.
“My phone line stays open on draft day,” he said.