Most of Mike Mayock’s NFL draft prospect evaluations reside in the public domain. The Raiders general manager got paid to voice his opinions on the NFL Network, leaving video clips and epically conference call transcripts as evidence on how he views talent.
He was also charged with matching talent with team needs, providing insight from relationships within NFL organizations. There was nobody better than Mayock in doing exactly that.
“My job was to be in all 32 buildings,” Mayock said a few weeks back, during a sitdown with Raiders beat writers at the Senior Bowl. “I had a team that wanted to hire me several years ago that looked at that as an advantage. They were like you’re not scouting for any one team. You’re scouting for the whole league the way you have to do it and they liked that. They also liked the fact that I had a lot of information on a lot of coaches and GMs around the league and what they prefer.”
Then, Mayock broke down Hall of Fame former GM Bill Polian’s tendencies. Polian didn’t like to move around. He preferred players from big schools, and always wanted to secure “his guy.”
Bill Belichick was next, and Mayock cited his propensity for moving around the draft board with trades.
“Every guy has a footprint,” Mayock said.
Many are wondering what Mayock’s will look like now that he’s a GM himself. Head coach Jon Gruden remains the team’s last word and chief decision maker, but Mayock will have massive influence over the NFL draft process and selections.
Mayock said he wants to be open-minded and flexible with his draft plan heading into a 2019 NFL Draft, where the Raiders have three first-round picks and four selections in the top 35.
“I’ve always thought (that), if I had to first pick in the draft or if I had two picks (in the first round), I’d be open for business,” Mayock said. “I think you have to be. I’m not trying to say I’m Vegas Mike or anything like that.
“I’m just saying, whether you have 10 picks or four picks in the draft, I think you have to be open. I mean, let’s be honest, would I move up to get somebody? Sure I would. If it’s the guy you feel like you have to have, but you’re diminishing your odds a little bit when you trade up and give away draft picks.”
Being open to movement really just says the Raiders could do anything, which is what teams want the competition to think. The Raiders have the capital required to make big moves in the April's draft, especially if they're trading up to get someone. That would mean fewer opportunities to mine this draft ore for the most important selections in recent Raiders memory, though.
The Raiders could fall in love and do whatever it takes to get a player, or they could stand pat and hope that four top picks turn into at least two (or three) quality starters with those early picks.