PFWA names Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie Executive of the Year

PFWA names Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie Executive of the Year

Raiders owner/general manager Al Davis was named the NFL’s executive of the year after the 2002 season. The Raiders reached the Super Bowl that year, and fell off a cliff after that.

It was appropriate to honor the man that brought the Raiders to great heights then, and it’s right to award the general manager who helped bring them back to prominence.

That occurred on Thursday morning, when Reggie McKenzie was named 2016’s NFL Executive of the Year. That honor’s bestowed by the Pro Football Writers of America, based upon a vote of the association’s membership.

McKenzie helped provide the personnel required to go 12-4 in 2016 and secure their first playoff berth since Davis was in charge.

McKenzie imported key free agents in Pro Bowlers Reggie Nelson, Kelechi Osemele and edge rusher Bruce Irvin. He drafted starting safety Karl Joseph in the first round, and added solid undrafted products in Jalen Richard and Darius Latham. He had seven undrafted free agents on the roster at 2016’s end.

He also found linebacker stability by signing Perry Riley in Week 5.

While this is an award given specifically for work in a particular season, it’s impossible to ignore McKenzie’s excellent drafts in 2014 and 2015, when he added Khalil Mack, Derek Carr, Amari Cooper, Gabe Jackson and Mario Edwards Jr. There were previous free agent adds like Michael Crabtree, Donald Penn and Rodney Hudson.

Several Raiders have been honored by the PFWA. Mack and Osemele were on the All-NFL team, and Joseph was on the All-Rookie team.

In addition to McKenzie, the PFWA named Dallas’ Jason Garrett the league’s coach of the year and Atlanta’s Kyle Shannahan the assistant coach of the year on Thursday.

Derek Carr, relief pitcher? Fresno Grizzlies tweet offer to Raiders QB


Derek Carr, relief pitcher? Fresno Grizzlies tweet offer to Raiders QB

Derek Carr was tied for the NFL's fifth-most accurate quarterback in 2018, finishing the season with a career-high 68.9 percent completion percentage. But can he hit the strike zone?

We might learn the answer to that question as soon as next season.

After a Twitter exchange with the Triple-A Fresno Grizzlies on Wednesday night, the Fresno State alum could be in line to come out of the bullpen for the Washington Nationals affiliate.

If it was any sport other than minor-league baseball, we'd be skeptical of the chances. But no promotion is too outlandish during the dog days of summer -- shy of a team pulling an Air Bud. 

Or, the Grizzlies thought they were speaking with Ohio University pitcher Derek Carr.

Perhaps Carr would just want to get ahead of the curve, if a pair of online sportsbooks are to be believed. If the Raiders truly are the favorites to select Kyler Murray in the draft, chasing two-sport stardom is a novel approach from Carr. 

The 27-year-old also was a good sport about rumors surrounding his future in Silver and Black. 

With three first-round picks in this year's draft, maybe Gruden and new general manager Mike Mayock can consult the aspiring GM in their own locker room. 

Senior Bowl: Raiders to coach quality edge rushers, team's biggest need


Senior Bowl: Raiders to coach quality edge rushers, team's biggest need

The Senior Bowl rosters were announced on Wednesday morning, providing a complete look at the North squad the Raiders coaching staff will guide through a practice week and the Jan. 26 Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala.

Prized Kentucky edge rusher Josh Allen isn’t on either roster despite a previous commitment to play the Senior Bowl -- he was expected to be on the South squad coached by the 49ers -- a bummer for all sides to be sure.

There are plenty of quality edge rushers on both sides, which will help Jon Gruden, Raiders scouts, and coaches get a close look at their biggest position of need.

Boston College pass rusher Zach Allen headlines the North Squad’s defensive ends and is someone commonly projected to go later in the first round or early in the second.

The Raiders, as a matter of fact, have three draft picks in that window. Their first pick sits at No. 4 overall, followed by 24, 27 and 35.

Mississippi State’s Montez Sweat was assigned to the North team, but the Raiders will still get to scout him in 49ers' run practices and see him play up close.

Most of the coaches’ time will be spent with the North side.

Let’s take a look at edge rusher on that team, which the Raiders will get a long look at this week:

Zach Allen, Boston College, 6-5, 285
Widely considered the top edge prospect on the North squad, Allen has burst and bend to get around tackles and to the quarterback. Analysts say he has a high ceiling and is a scheme-versatile defender. He’s solid against the run who can generate steady pressure. Impressing Raiders coaches could help him end up in silver and black with one of the team’s high picks.
Projected: Early rounds

Charles Omenihu, Texas, 6-6, 275
This big, agile defensive lineman is considered by many to be a top 50 pick, and a solid Senior Bowl week could secure such draft status. He was the best pass rusher in a Big XII not known for defense, but had a breakout senior year with 9.5 sacks. He can be a complete player impactful against the run and pass, without significant weaknesses. He hustles, plays with violence and is explosive. Keep an eye on him all week.
Projected: Early rounds

Jalen Jelks, Oregon, 6-6, 245
Jelks is super fast off the edge, and can use speed to create havoc off the edge. He also has great length, which helps him as a run defender. He isn’t the biggest pass rusher at 245 pounds, and while he’s a powerful player, he has a long way to go in terms of technique. He might be better suited for a 3-4 defense, but the Raiders can determine working with him whether he can fit into their system.
Projected: Early to middle rounds

L.J. Collier, TCU, 6-4, 276
Collier finished his senior season with six sacks and 11.5 tackles for a loss, but is considered a later-round selection due to a lack of explosiveness and lackluster bend and flexibility. Analysts say he’s good taking advantage of poor blocking technique, but that won’t happen much at the NFL level. He should be considered a developmental prospect, though he has the competitive streak to push for continued improvement.
Projected: Late rounds

Byron Cowart, Maryland, 6-4, 293
This top prep recruit bounced around in college, from Auburn to a junior college and finally to Maryland. He has great size and athleticism, but should still be considered a project with a high upside. He must flash during the Senior Bowl to rise up draft boards
Projected: Late rounds

John Cominsky, Charleson 6-5, 275
The Senior Bowl offers small-school projects a chance to shine, and Cominsky must use the practice week to prove he can compete against the big boys. He had 39.5 tackles for a loss in the past two years.
Projected: Late rounds

[RELATED: 49ers, Raiders staffs to coach Senior Bowl]

Here’s the full North roster: