ALAMEDA — Reggie McKenzie, Oakland’s first general manager since the long reign of polarizing owner Al Davis, said much on the January afternoon that saw his swearing in as the Raiders’ top executive.
But of McKenzie’s then New Year proclamation, what is perhaps best remembered is what the man said of his draft selections.
“I love my picks,” he told reporters three months ago.
Because come draft day later this month, he’ll only have five.
With the Raiders having forfeited their first- and second-round selections last year to the Cincinnati Bengals and the New England Patriots, respectively, McKenzie’s first pick won’t come until the third round with the 95th overall selection. And even that was a compensatory pick for losing Nnamdi Asomugha.
But while the Raiders wait out the opening fray of draft day on April 26, McKenzie, when the times comes, will know what he is looking for.
“When we say best players ... it doesn’t matter. We want to get a good player,” McKenzie said. “We’ve got five picks. We need to make them all count.”
But as simple a philosophy as it may seem, evaluating the best talent available can be tricky when factoring athleticism, character, medical and off-the-field issues. But as McKenzie put it — it’s not rocket science.
“It’s not an exact science, you’re going to hit and miss, but if you stick to what you believe in, hopefully you hit more than you miss,” he said.
But building a roster of guys who can play wasn’t what bedeviled Oakland last year as several key players were sidelined due to injury. McKenzie made it clear what his team needs.
“We need depth,” he bluntly said. “We feel like we’ve got players that we can line up a lot of spots, and we’ve got some good players, but when you talk about a guy goes down, we need depth at a few spots. Quite a few spots.”
Though McKenzie and coach Dennis Allen are still in the opening stages of mapping out the Raiders’ draft board, the former Green Bay Packers executive, who was part of drafting Aaron Rogers, is saying ‘no’ to high-risk, high-reward players and specific needs.
“At this point, we’re not looking at needs,” he said. “The decision from Day 1, when I talked to the head coach, we’re going to get the best player available.”
“I’m not going to reach down to get a player because we need that position,” McKenzie said. “That hasn’t turned out good in my past years.”
NOTE: For women hoping to sport the Silver and Black before draft day, Raiderette preliminary auditions are this Sunday at the Hilton — Oakland Airport. For more info, visit http://www.raiders.com/raiderettes/auditions.html.