Mike Mayock

Raiders GM Mike Mayock explains the value of important pro day tour

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Raiders GM Mike Mayock explains the value of important pro day tour

General manager Mike Mayock and his traveling Raiders band are on a college pro day tour.

They were at Alabama on Tuesday, Ohio State on Wednesday and will be at Kentucky on Friday, connecting with elite NFL draft prospects worthy of the Silver and Black’s No. 4 overall selection. Coaches and scouts have shuffled in and out, which the GM personally visits prestigious schools important to this year’s Raiders draft.

Alabama’s Quinnen Williams, Ohio State’s Nick Bosa and Dwayne Haskins, and Kentucky’s Josh Allen are the main attractions, but the Raiders are keeping a close eye on everyone at these big-name schools.

The Raiders have watched game film on all of them and evaluated NFL combine workouts. They have met with several and done homework on those under consideration. Mayock’s pouring over tape day and night preparing for his first NFL draft as an NFL general manager.

They know these prospects well, but Mayock still sees advantages in going to pro days himself.

“I think it’s a couple different things,” Mayock said Wednesday in an interview with NBC Sports Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco. “When you’re in person you get a better feel. You can watch all the tape in the world, which we do, but when you’re here in person you sometimes get a better feel for their movement ability. You get a better understanding for how they interact with each other, with the coaches. I’m big on collecting information.”

Mayock didn’t see Williams or Bosa do any on-field work. Both guys stood behind excellent combine stats and bowed out of pro-day drills. According to Maiocco, Allen will follow suit and sit out during drills at Kentucky's pro day Friday. 

“We’re seeing more and more of the top 10 or top 20 guys who are electing not to work out,” Mayock said. “To be honest with you, if you have a couple years of tape and a full combine workout, we ought to be able to evaluate him.”

The Raiders will conduct a private workout with Williams so defensive coordinator Paul Guenther can see him up close. Such an exercise will happen with other prospects the Raiders are considering throughout the draft, especially with their four valuable selections in the top 35 overall.

The Raiders were still able to check in with Bosa, believed to sit high or on top of their draft board. Kentucky’s up next, where the Raiders will keep an eye on several prospects including a host of defensive backs. Allen will be a focus despite not doing anything at Wildcats pro day. He has done enough already. That includes a decision to return for his senior season, which Mayock believes paid big dividends.

He has moved near the top of most draft boards following a season where he had 88 tackles, including 21.5 for a loss, 17 sacks, and five forced fumbles.

[RELATED: NFL insiders believe Raiders could be most improved in 2019]

“He’s a talented edge rusher,” Mayock said. “I think most of the league’s very aware of him. He put some weight on this year and carries it well. I think he’s kind of a testament to coming back to school as a senior. I think he enhanced his draft status immeasurably coming back bigger, stronger faster and having the kind of year he had.”

Why NFL insiders believe Raiders could be most improved team in 2019

Why NFL insiders believe Raiders could be most improved team in 2019

Let's get this out of the way first: The Oakland Raiders had a rough 2018 season.

The Raiders went 4-12 in Year 1 of Jon Gruden's second reign as head coach but there's a reason to believe in a quick turn around, according to a few ESPN insiders.

While the Cleveland Browns made arguably the marquee move of the offseason by trading for Odell Beckham Jr., the Raiders made a number of notable additions during the first stretch of free agency. After acquiring star wide receiver Antonio Brown in a trade with the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Raiders bolstered their offensive line by signing left tackle Trent Brown and boosted their secondary by adding Lamarcus Joyner.

Oh, and they also added speedy wideout Tyrell Williams to the mix, as well. 

These moves, in the eyes of ESPN's Dan Graziano, Mina Kimes and Mike Sando, place the Raiders as the leader to be the most improved team not named the Browns.

"If Odell Beckham Jr. wasn't the best player to change teams, Antonio Brown would have been," Graziano writes. "Tyrell Williams is a nice complement to him at receiver. Safety Lamarcus Joyner fits a need on defense, which is the side of the ball I expect them to focus on early in the draft. And Trent Brown should be a helpful left tackle. The Raiders might be gearing up for Las Vegas, but the final year in Oakland has a chance to be a lot better than the past two were."

Kimes echoed the belief in a possible Raiders turnaround this season, but she does have questions about the defensive side of the ball.

"I'll go with the Raiders, who added one of the best wide receivers in the league (Antonio Brown) and the most talented receiver available in free agency (Tyrell Williams)," Kimes writes. "I'm worried that new left tackle Trent Brown won't be able to match his success in New England, and there's a ton of work to be done on that defense, but the Raiders undeniably got significantly better last week."

Sando even voted for the Raiders to be more improved than the Browns in 2019, in large part because the Browns went 7-8-1 in 2018 and have fewer things to clean up than the Silver and Black.

[RELATED: Raiders reportedly meeting with free agent linebacker Vontaze Burfict]

General manager Mike Mayock and Gruden still have work to do to this offseason, but they appear to be on the right track after the first phase of the NFL offseason.

Mike Mayock reveals why he's OK with Raiders' NFL free agency spending

Mike Mayock reveals why he's OK with Raiders' NFL free agency spending

Mike Mayock always will be associated with the NFL draft. So it should come as no surprise that the former NFL Network draft analyst had to be convinced to improve the Raiders through free agency and trades.

NBC Sports' Peter King spoke with the Raiders general manager over the weekend and wrote about what Mayock told him in his Football Morning In America column.

So I’ve known Mayock for some time, and when we spoke Saturday night, he sounded like the same driven prospect-knower I’ve come to rely on in the last few years. “I’ll be honest,” he said. “I never believed in big spending in free agency. For years, that is not where my head was. But Jon Gruden and I spent a long, long time examining our team. We had so many team needs. We figured, we can go out and spend a little money on several positions. Or this year, we can look at three, four, five, six guys who can make a difference on the field and, as importantly, in the locker room. If we can get the guys we want, we should do it. We find a way to get Antonio Brown, Tyrell Williams, J.J. Nelson at receiver. We get a tackle, Trent Brown, 25 years old, who doesn’t even know how good he can be, who was lock-down, shutout in the playoffs for New England. We got Rodney Hudson at center, with a good young tackle, Kolton Miller, as the other tackle. We can line up and compete right now offensively.”

With the signings of Trent Brown, Williams, Joyner, Jon Feliciano, Josh Mauro and Nelson, the Raiders added just over $40 million to their 2019 salary. When you add the nearly $15 million that Anotnio Brown will make in 2019, Oakland has added $55 million worth of players for the upcoming season.

[RELATED: How AB trade almost didn't happen]

That definitely goes against Mayock's previous mindset. But as he's probably learning, you need veterans on the team in order to compete. And Gruden isn't about to throw away another year playing a bunch of rookies.