Mike Mayock hasn’t been an NFL general manager for long, but he already has mastered the art of talking and saying nothing to tip his hand. He’ll fill your notebook with great detail on inconsequential matters or general NFL draft evaluations, but he won’t give an inch on matters of ranking or specific evaluations of this class.
He was asked about the Raiders' pressing need at receiver, one of the NFL’s most obvious. They have to take a wideout, maybe two, from an incredibly deep and talented group.
The question specifically referenced the top three receiver prospects, widely considered to be CeeDee Lamb, Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs in one order or another.
“I’m not sure which three you think are the best compared to the three I think are the best,” Mayock said in some jest.
He conceded in another answer, however, that a receiver’s coming at some point.
“There’s no secret that we need to get better at wideout, we understand that,” Mayock said. “We really like adding Nelson Agholor, but we still need to get better at wideout. … I think you got to let it come to you a little bit and whether it’s in the first round, second round, third round, fifth round, I’m hoping we can find a wideout that fits what the Raiders need and fits our culture.”
Mayock also relayed a well-known fact that this receiver class is loaded with diverse skill sets. That’s definitely true when looking at the perceived top three, with Lamb a YAC king, Jeudy a precise route runner and Ruggs possessing a track star’s speed.
That allows the Raiders to take a close look at fit and position. While head coach Jon Gruden prefers receivers who play every position, Hunter Renfrow plays almost exclusively from the slot. Tyrell Williams is generally an X receiver, though he shouldn’t be assumed a long-term solution with three years of eight-figure base salaries on a pay-as-you-go contract after 2020.
The Raiders could add a few receivers but seem to have more pressing need for a Z receiver-type.
Mayock says there are plenty of each type ripe for the picking in the first round and beyond. It’s about finding the right player available at the right spot.
“There are all kinds of flavors and sizes,” Mayock said. “If you need a big X (wide receiver position), there’s a bunch of big X receivers out there. If you need a guy that can play slot and ‘Z’, check. There’s a bunch of them.
"Fit is really important. I think the cool thing though about Jon’s offense, and I think what he showed last year especially with what he did with our tight ends, Jon’s adaptable to whoever he has. That’s the cool thing. That’s been a kind of fun thing to talk to him about the wide receiver about, ‘What could this guy do for us versus what could that guy do for us? Jon, what do you think is the best fit?’ We’ve had some great conversations about it and I’m sure we will continue to do so right up until the draft.”
The Raiders need an intimidating presence in the pattern, a true No. 1 receiver they thought they had through 2021 until Antonio Brown went nuclear. That’s why many assume they’ll take one at No. 12 overall -- cornerback could be a strong consideration as well. The top receiver could also come at No. 19 or a lower position after trading down from there.
There will be plenty available on Day 2, and Mayock says a No. 1 might be found as late as the third round.
“There are a bunch of guys at the top end of the draft that are considered first-round,” Mayock said. “There are going to be guys in the fourth round that typically would go in the third round or earlier. There is quality at the top, there is depth throughout.”