Oakland Raiders Stockpile During NFL Draft

Oakland general manager Reggie McKenzie was schooled in the draft by Ron Wolf during his long tenure in the front office in Green Bay.

Even when they had an entrenched starter like Brett Favre or Aaron Rodgers, the Packers believed in the importance of drafting quarterbacks anyway to develop as backups or chips to trade in the future.

McKenzie did just that Saturday when he traded up to select Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook with the second pick in the fourth round despite having an established starter in Derek Carr. 

Cook said he was surprised to end up on a team with a young starter like Carr, thinking he might end up in Dallas instead as the heir apparent to Tony Romo. But McKenzie moved up ahead of the Cowboys for the 100th pick by trading the 114th and 154th picks to Cleveland.

"It's always important to have depth,'' McKenzie said. "We usually kept three quarterbacks when I was in Green Bay for a long time. You can see the cycle, even last year, guys went down. So you want to make sure you have guys prepared. He was a good player still sitting there day three. We had a good grade on him and we just wanted to seize the opportunity.''

The move to grab Cook was the biggest for Oakland on the final day of the draft. The Raiders also drafted Texas Tech running back DeAndre Washington in the fifth round, Colorado State linebacker Cory James in the sixth and LSU offensive lineman Vadal Alexander in the seventh.

Those picks add to the group Oakland added the first two days when McKenzie selected West Virginia safety Karl Joseph in the first round, Illinois defensive lineman Jihad Ward in the second and Michigan State linebacker Shilique Calhoun in the third.

The Packers have long stockpiled quarterbacks with players like Mark Brunell, Matt Hasselbeck and Aaron Brooks all starting their careers in Green Bay before becoming starters elsewhere.

Cook had been projected by many to go higher in the draft to a team looking for a potential starting quarterback but ended up being the seventh quarterback selected, going behind less-heralded players like North Carolina State's Jacoby Brissett and Southern California's Cody Kessler.

"Anytime you see another quarterback drafted in front of you it hurts,'' Cook said. "I'm a competitor. Obviously I think I'm one of the best quarterbacks in this draft class. But things are never easy. Nothing is ever perfect. Everything I was able to accomplish at Michigan State was never easy. Going on to the NFL it's definitely going to get a little bit harder and more difficult.''

Cook had a prolific college career, leading Michigan State to a 34-5 record and two Big Ten championships in three years as starter for the Spartans. Cook threw for 71 touchdown passes and 9,194 yards in his career but completed just 57.5 percent of his passes and some scouts questioned his accuracy.

Cook also faced criticism of his leadership skills after his teammates decided not to elect him as team captain.

"I don't think you can win that many games and be that successful at a program without being a leader,'' Cook said. "I think all that stuff was so far from the truth. Everything will work itself out. People want to talk and say all that stuff, but they've never even sat down to talk to me or get to know me as a person.''

Cook will compete with former undrafted free agent Matt McGloin as Carr's backup in Oakland. McGloin is eligible to be a free agent next year and the Raiders wanted to add another quarterback to the mix.

The big need addressed in day three was the selection of Washington as the backup to 1,000-yard rusher Latavius Murray. Washington rushed for 1,492 yards and caught 41 passes last season.

Oakland had only one halfback rush for at least 100 yards last season and needed another to help shoulder the load for Murray, who showed signs of tiring late in games and in the season.

"You just can't go through the whole season with just one running back,'' McKenzie said. "We felt like it was important to add someone and we think we got a really good running back.''

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