ALAMEDA -- The most unlikely of Reggie McKenzie's draft picks this year was surprised himself that the Raiders used a selection on him.
After all, Stacy McGee and his baggage had little to no contact with the Raiders in the months and weeks leading up to the NFL Draft, when the Raiders used a sixth-rounder on the former Oklahoma defensive tackle.
"I don't know much," he said with a smile of the Raiders' tradition on Saturday, after a rookie camp practice, "but I'm learning.
"I talked to them at the Combine a few times, but that was really it."
Besides the apparent lack of interest from Oakland, there were McGee's issues and the Raiders' stated desire to stay away from high-drama players while picking up solid citizens who could play football. In college, McGee was arrested on a marijuana possession charge as well as for DUI. He served a pair of suspensions for the Sooners and started just 15 of the 34 games in which he played, none since he was a junior. And as a senior, he played in just six games.
"Everything they heard wasn't me," McGee said. "It was just mistakes I've made."
Obviously, McKenzie and coach Dennis Allen are convinced.
"Hey, listen, we're big on character, we want good character guys," Allen said. "Guys are going to make mistakes; nobody's perfect. When we did all our research on him, we felt like he was a guy that we wanted to give a second opportunity to. We've had a lot of conversations with him. I think he understands the mistakes that he's made in the past, he's ready to learn from those and move on from it.
"I think if he can do that, then he's got a lot of ability. And there might be a football player there for us."
The 6-feet-3, 310-pound McGee, who had 29 tackles in his career, 9 1/2 for a loss, and 2 1/2 sacks, could help the Raiders in the trenches after they lost Tommy Kelly, Desmond Bryant and Richard Seymour this offseason. So long as he stays, well, clean.
"When he walks out on the field, he looks like an NFL defensive tackle," Allen added. "He's got really good size and strength and for his size, he moves really well. So, he's a guy that I think's got really good ability to stop the run. Pass rush is an area where he can continue to improve on, but he's a guy that I'm anxious to see when he really gets a chance to get out there and work…when he's totally healthy."
McGee, who has been practicing with an injured foot, says he's appreciative of the shot the Raiders are affording him while putting his checkered past behind him.
"That was something…I'm looking to move forward from," he said, "to grow as a person, become a man.
"Getting away from my family, changing my life and the people I'm around will help a lot."