Offensive lineman Tony Bergstrom (left) isn't afraid to take on new challenges. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
And with their first pick of the 2012 NFL Draft, the Raiders selected …
Just the guy they wanted.
That’s no knock on Tony Bergstrom, the all-Pacific-12 Conference offensive tackle from Utah whom Oakland selected with the 95th overall pick in the draft Friday night, at the tail end of the third round.
New Raiders General Manager Reggie McKenzie said going into the draft that he wanted to pick smart football players who love to play the game. Players who are professional and work hard, who choose to make smart decisions instead of headlines.
In Bergstrom, McKenzie has a guy in that mold.
“The one thing, the guy’s a football player,” McKenzie told reporters Friday night.
Even Bergstrom admits he’s on the quiet side of the fence, the unlikeliest guy on the planet to be found in bars or get into mischief somewhere at 3 in the morning.
As a 25-year-old married rookie who took time out from schooling to fulfill his Mormon mission, Bergstrom’s idea of a good time is time spent at home.
“I’m not stranger to coming home and studying all day and spending time with the family instead of going out at night,” he told reporters in a conference call after his selection. “As soon as I get my playbook, I’m going back to that lifestyle of just studying every day and doing my workouts. I think having that schedule that you get used to, that’s kind of a big part of maturity.”
New Raiders coach Dennis Allen says Bergstrom, who played tackle at Utah, will play guard for the Raiders and will fit in well with the team’s zone-blocking scheme, which also was used by the Utes. Bergstrom said the transition from tackle to guard will take some time, but he’s ready.
“It’s a little less finesse inside, a little more gritty,” he said.
McKenzie said he had no idea who he’d target with his first pick after waiting almost two full days to make a selection. But Bergstrom was among the names on his list, and was the No. 1 player available on his scouting report when the time came.
As columnist Monte Poole noted, McKenzie’s first pick was revealing.
It was an offensive lineman who most fans have never heard of. Just a grunt, a guy who likes to play football and knock people over and work hard.
No glitz, no amazing 40-yard dash times, no headlines.
“Not too fancy,” McKenzie said.
On Saturday, the Raiders have four more chances to be dull, with a pick in the fourth round, two in the fifth and another in the sixth.
McKenzie will be looking for more Bergstroms, a guy he describes as “tough, with great football intelligence, physical.”
Dull. But solid. A foundation.
Wrote Poole of McKenzie’s work in the draft: “He has to start somewhere. And this is just the beginning.”