Raiders

McCaffrey won't have to convince Del Rio, Raiders he can excel in NFL

McCaffrey won't have to convince Del Rio, Raiders he can excel in NFL

Christian McCaffrey was an excellent college football player. The Stanford running back was a Heisman Trophy candidate two years back, and proved dynamic rushing and returning in his career as a Cardinal.

That hasn’t shut up the skeptics. Some question his ability to excel at the professional level, an issue that bothers McCaffrey to no end.

“I play with a chip on my shoulder always,” McCaffrey said in a Thursday press conference at the NFL scouting combine. “I feel like a lot of people don't give me credit for my skills and talents. That's just the way it is. But I also don't really care too much. I don't feel like I'm crazy disrespected. I have a chip on my shoulder at all times. That's been my whole life.”

The Raiders are one team McCaffrey won’t have to convince. He was scheduled to meet with the Silver and Black at the scouting combine, though a major decision maker already knows him well.

Head coach Jack Del Rio has known McCaffrey for years, dating back to his high school days. Del Rio’s son Luke – now a quarterback at Florida – played with McCaffrey at Valor Christian just outside Denver.

The Del Rios and McCaffreys became friends back then, when Del Rio was Denvers defensive coordinator. Del Rio has watched the son of former Broncos receiver Ed McCaffrey on tape and from the bleachers, and believes he’ll excel in the NFL.

“First of all, Christian McCaffrey is an amazing young man,” Del Rio said. “He and my son Luke played together at Valor Christian (High School, in Colorado) before he went to Stanford. I’ve seen Christian, and I heard people question whether he’d be able to go from the high school level to the college level. Then he tore it up. Now there will be questions about his transition to the pro game. I think you’re going to see the same thing. This guy is a great football player, and I think he will have an impact in this league.”

He could make that impact in Oakland. McCaffrey is projected as a late first-round pick, and could well be available when the Raiders select No. 24 overall. They need help at defensive tackle, cornerback and inside linebacker, though running back might be an issue if Latavius Murray leaves in free agency and the Raiders don’t sign someone to rush with DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard.

The Raiders could use a strong, physical back. McCaffrey doesn’t fall into that category, but he’s a versatile talent that would intrigue an imaginative offensive coordinator. The Raiders could look to the draft for rushing help, though it’s a deep class at that position and Reggie McKenzie has proven adept mining running backs from the later rounds.

McCaffrey won’t last that long. He has detractors and plenty of fans, who should take him in the first two rounds.

McCaffrey believes he can be a three-down back for the Raiders or anyone else, though he’s an excellent return man and a quality receiver out of the backfield or in the slow.

“Something I really pride myself on is not just being a running back that can catch the ball but if I move out to the slot, I become a receiver. If I move out to X or Z, I become a receiver and not just a running back,” McCaffrey said. “I really try to pride myself on route running, catching and being able to be a mismatch anywhere on the field.”

How Jordan Devey signing gives Raiders versatile offensive line depth

How Jordan Devey signing gives Raiders versatile offensive line depth

The Raiders hope Rodney Hudson plays every single offensive snap in 2019. He might be the league’s best center, and is the unquestioned leader along the offensive front.

They need a Plan B, even if they never hope to use it. Jon Feliciano was the primary reserve at guard and center, leaving a void upon signing with the Buffalo Bills.

Jordan Devey will fill it. The former Kansas City Chief signed a one-year contract with the Raiders on Thursday, the team announced, adding depth and versatility to an overhauled front.

Devey spent parts of five NFL seasons with New England, the 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs, primarily as a reserve guard. He played more center over the past two seasons, and has some tackle work on his resume. Devey finished last season on injured reserve with a pectoral issue

Offensive line coach Tom Cable prizes versatility, especially with a need on the inside. Second-year pro Brandon Parker is expected to be a swing tackle.

Kolton Miller and Trent Brown will be starting tackles, with Hudson at center. Gabe Jackson and Denzelle Good look like starting guards at this time.

[RELATED: Raiders GM Mike Mayock explains the value of important pro day tour]

Devey was clean cut Thursday when signing with the Raiders, but he rocked a pretty serious mullet last season in Kansas City.

Raiders GM Mike Mayock explains the value of important pro day tour

mayockusatsi.jpg
USATSI

Raiders GM Mike Mayock explains the value of important pro day tour

General manager Mike Mayock and his traveling Raiders band are on a college pro day tour.

They were at Alabama on Tuesday, Ohio State on Wednesday and will be at Kentucky on Friday, connecting with elite NFL draft prospects worthy of the Silver and Black’s No. 4 overall selection. Coaches and scouts have shuffled in and out, which the GM personally visits prestigious schools important to this year’s Raiders draft.

Alabama’s Quinnen Williams, Ohio State’s Nick Bosa and Dwayne Haskins, and Kentucky’s Josh Allen are the main attractions, but the Raiders are keeping a close eye on everyone at these big-name schools.

The Raiders have watched game film on all of them and evaluated NFL combine workouts. They have met with several and done homework on those under consideration. Mayock’s pouring over tape day and night preparing for his first NFL draft as an NFL general manager.

They know these prospects well, but Mayock still sees advantages in going to pro days himself.

“I think it’s a couple different things,” Mayock said Wednesday in an interview with NBC Sports Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco. “When you’re in person you get a better feel. You can watch all the tape in the world, which we do, but when you’re here in person you sometimes get a better feel for their movement ability. You get a better understanding for how they interact with each other, with the coaches. I’m big on collecting information.”

Mayock didn’t see Williams or Bosa do any on-field work. Both guys stood behind excellent combine stats and bowed out of pro-day drills. According to Maiocco, Allen will follow suit and sit out during drills at Kentucky's pro day Friday. 

“We’re seeing more and more of the top 10 or top 20 guys who are electing not to work out,” Mayock said. “To be honest with you, if you have a couple years of tape and a full combine workout, we ought to be able to evaluate him.”

The Raiders will conduct a private workout with Williams so defensive coordinator Paul Guenther can see him up close. Such an exercise will happen with other prospects the Raiders are considering throughout the draft, especially with their four valuable selections in the top 35 overall.

The Raiders were still able to check in with Bosa, believed to sit high or on top of their draft board. Kentucky’s up next, where the Raiders will keep an eye on several prospects including a host of defensive backs. Allen will be a focus despite not doing anything at Wildcats pro day. He has done enough already. That includes a decision to return for his senior season, which Mayock believes paid big dividends.

He has moved near the top of most draft boards following a season where he had 88 tackles, including 21.5 for a loss, 17 sacks, and five forced fumbles.

[RELATED: NFL insiders believe Raiders could be most improved in 2019]

“He’s a talented edge rusher,” Mayock said. “I think most of the league’s very aware of him. He put some weight on this year and carries it well. I think he’s kind of a testament to coming back to school as a senior. I think he enhanced his draft status immeasurably coming back bigger, stronger faster and having the kind of year he had.”