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.

NFL free agency: Raiders sign QB Mike Glennon to back up Derek Carr


NFL free agency: Raiders sign QB Mike Glennon to back up Derek Carr

The Raiders wanted an experienced backup quarterback behind Derek Carr, and got one Friday by signing Mike Glennon.

Now they hope he never plays. It’s still a vital role in meeting rooms and on-the-field, should an emergency arise on game day. Young bucks can get caught in the headlights. Veterans won’t be as good as the starter, but can generally function better being inserted into a game without many practice reps.

He has hopped into action during five seasons and has 22 starts, meaning he can handle short-relief or a stretch as the starter.

That calms some fan's nerves after the Raiders released AJ McCarron, who has already signed with the Houston Texans, leaving Nathan Peterman as the only non-Carr quarterback on the roster.

Glennon steps into the No. 2 slot having completed 60.9 percent of his passes for 5,107 yards and 35 touchdowns with 20 interceptions over five seasons.

Peterman is still with the Raiders on a futures contract, and is the No. 3 guy at the moment.

Many will look at the signing and wonder if it impacts the possibility of drafting a quarterback next month. It’s hard to rule anything out, but the disciplined choice would be to address the pass rush early and often in the 2019 NFL Draft, though a quarterback could get taken later in the selection process.

But…having Glennon on the roster won’t prohibit the Raiders from taking Kyler Murray or Dwayne Haskins. Would the Raiders eliminate the prospect of taking Quinnen Williams because interior pass rushers P.J. Hall and Maurice Hurst were drafted last year? Absolutely not.

A edge rusher is the team’s most pressing need and must be addressed with quality and quantity before the season starts.

The Raiders don’t have to take a quarterback now in the draft, and adding Glennon takes the pressure off the demand to get another one down the line. Glennon should be viewed as a reliable backup who can step into service if Carr isn’t available.

Curtis Riley signs with Raiders to boost short-handed secondary

Curtis Riley signs with Raiders to boost short-handed secondary

The Raiders continued fleshing out their secondary on Friday agreeing on terms of a contract with safety Curtis Riley, the team announced Friday. The former New York Giant visited the team’s Alameda facility on Thursday and left without a deal, but he ended up taking the Raiders offer despite interest from other teams.

Riley hinted at a pact on Twitter on Friday, saying he was coming to the Bay Area. He’ll exchange coasts after starting all 16 games at free safety with last year’s Giants. He had 75 tackles, four interceptions and five pass breakups for that squad.

He’ll have an opportunity to play significant snaps in the Raiders secondary. High-priced free-agent signing Lamarcus Joyner is also a free safety, but is expected to play slot cornerback regularly in 2019, likely shuttling back and forth between positions.

Riley could step in as the free safety in sub packages that defenses spend significant time in nowadays. Erik Harris will compete for that role opposite strong safety Karl Joseph.

The Raiders have options in the secondary now, with the aforementioned safeties and depth at cornerback. Gareon Conley’s a virtual lock to start at one outside cornerback spot. Daryl Worley’s expected to return on a second-round free-agent tender, through Thursday’s signing Nevin Lawson will compete for time there as well. Last year’s fourth-round pick Nick Nelson will have to fight for time with this new defensive back depth chart.

The Raiders could well draft another defensive back as well, especially if a good one slips and becomes a great value pick.

[RELATED: Mayock explains the importance of pro day tour]

News of Riley’s agreement should excite quarterback Derek Carr. Riley’s a fellow Fresno State alum. and was teammates with Carr in 2013.

The Raiders also had interest in George Iloka, who played with defensive coordinator Paul Guenther in Cincinnati. Iloka visited the Raiders complex Thursday, but left without a deal and scheduled other visits.