Raiders GM Mike Mayock already on NFL draft prep, scouts Alabama-Clemson

Scott Bair

Raiders GM Mike Mayock already on NFL draft prep, scouts Alabama-Clemson

SANTA CLARA -- Mike Mayock is a popular guy in the college football world. The former NFL Network draft analyst and current Raiders general manager couldn’t walk anywhere Monday night at the College Football Playoff National Championship without someone coming over to shake hands or celebrate his new gig.

UCLA football coach Chip Kelly stopped by to say hello. Former players in attendance at Levi’s Stadium wanted a minute with Mayock. Prominent media members from every network made their way to him. So did high- and low-level staffers from Alabama and Clemson.

Mayock, however, wasn’t there to work the field. He was in full scouting mode.

That became apparent once Alabama took the field for warmups. Dressed in Raiders gear from head to toe, with an NFL Media backpack and a notebook in hand, Mayock moved from one position group to another, closely studying several. That included the Crimson Tide defensive line that features nose guard Quinnen Williams, who should be a top-five selection in the 2019 NFL draft. The Raiders, by the way, select No. 4 overall and desperately need help along their defensive front.

Mayock didn’t have much time during warmups before all non-essential personnel were ushered off the field, but he used it to take down as much information as possible for his conversations and observations.

He’ll have several looks at Alabama and Clemson players during the pre-draft process, but he didn’t want to pass up an opportunity to do so in the Bay Area.

“There’s a huge advantage in person,” Mayock said during a brief on-field interview. “I’ve been watching film of these two teams for months. I go back to July when I first started watching the rising seniors, OK?

"What I want to see pregame are all the body types. If you’re watching them, what do they look like? Are they bigger? Are they more slight? Do they have room to grow? What do they look like? That’s what you get before the game and then during the game, it’s just I’m going to watch this tape 20 times, for sure, but you at least get to see them live now.”

That’s how Mayock works, forming educated and complete opinions from several moments. Monday’s national title game is important, considering top talents are matched up against the best of the best.

[RELATED: NFL mock drafts predict how Raiders will use No. 24 pick]

While coach Jon Gruden ultimately will have final say in who is drafted and who is signed in free agency, Mayock will have a loud voice in those decisions and, despite being on the job for only one week now, the new GM already is grinding away on his Raiders-specific evaluation process.

That will continue over the next few weeks and ramp up at the Senior Bowl, where the Raiders staff will lead one of the college all-star teams. There will be more hand shaking and information gathering from staffers across college football then and at several points leading up to a pivotal Raiders NFL draft.

Mike Zimmer has second-guessed Daniel Carlson cut, which led kicker to Raiders


Mike Zimmer has second-guessed Daniel Carlson cut, which led kicker to Raiders

ALAMEDA – The Minnesota Vikings took the first kicker in last year’s NFL draft. They had pick of the litter and chose Daniel Carlson.

The Auburn product was awesome in college, with all the power and accuracy and mental fortitude to be an excellent NFL kicker.

Top talent, however, doesn’t guarantee perfection. Carlson was not that with the Vikings, especially in a Week 2 tie with Green Bay where he missed three field goals.

Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer wasn’t pleased, and he cut the fifth-round pick right away.

He had this to say when asked about the swift ax.

“Did you see the game?” Zimmer said last year. He called the decision “pretty easy.”

In hindsight, it may have been made in haste.

Carlson took some time off after that cut to work on his technique in private, and emerged a better kicker for the experience. The Raiders benefitted from that, acquiring a specialist who looks like a long-term solution.

Carlson set a Raiders franchise record for single-season field goal accuracy in 2018, converting 94 percent of his attempts.

It’s possible that Carlson turned things around only after a tough exit from Minnesota, but letting Carlson go has weighed some on Zimmer’s mind.

He said so in a Wednesday conference call leading up to Sunday’s game between the Raiders and Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium.

“I mean, do I have regrets?” Zimmer said. “I like our kicker who we have now, but did I second guess it? Sure. He’s done great there, and I think he’s a very, very talented kid. I wish him well, just not this week. But no, I’m happy for him and in retrospect, I guess, yeah, I’ve thought about it many times.”

[RELATED: Why Raiders' Joyner is encouraged by team's mindset]

That thought may have crossed Zimmer’s mind more last season, even with veteran Dan Bailey in purple. He hit just 75 percent of his field goals last season, while Carlson was near perfect.

NFL rumors: Chiefs will be 'primary suitor' for Jalen Ramsey trade

NFL rumors: Chiefs will be 'primary suitor' for Jalen Ramsey trade

The Chiefs probably aren't done giving the Raiders headaches this season, and they might do it on defense when they meet again Dec. 1 in Kansas City. 

Many NFL general managers believe the Chiefs "will emerge as a primary suitor" for disgruntled Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey, CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora tweeted Tuesday. 

Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill didn't wait long to start recruiting Ramsey on Twitter that morning.

The Raiders saw firsthand what the Chiefs' offense could do in Sunday's 28-10 loss at the Coliseum, but Kansas City's defense hasn't been as strong in the nascent Patrick Mahomes era. The Chiefs allowed the second-most passing yards (4,374) last season, and have given up the 13th-most through two games in 2019. Kansas City revamped its defensive line and added Tyrann Mathieu to its secondary in order to address those defensive deficiencies, but Ramsey's arrival could send the Chiefs defense into another stratosphere.

The 25-year-old is -- at least -- one of the five best cornerbacks in the NFL, with more than enough game to back up his constant trash talk. Pro Football Focus found that, since 2016, just four corners have allowed a lower completion percentage (53.8 percent) than Ramsey.

[RELATED: Why Raiders DB Joyner is encouraged by team's mindset]

Sunday proved that the Raiders won't be competing with the Chiefs for AFC West supremacy this season, but Ramsey's arrival would widen the gap between the two franchises even further -- at least in the immediate future. Given Ramsey's stated desire to play in Las Vegas, such a move would hurt the Silver and Black beyond the franchise's final game at Oakland Coliseum. Ramsey can become an unrestricted free agent after the 2020 season, and the Chiefs can afford him since Mahomes, the reigning NFL MVP, still is playing on his rookie deal.

Acquiring star receiver Antonio Brown blew up in the Raiders' collective faces, but seeing another superstar in Ramsey suit up for a division rival -- that already is a juggernaut -- could sting the Raiders even more.