McKenzie on Raiders' greatest need approaching draft: depth

April 11, 2012, 9:36 pm
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ALAMEDA -- Looking for a sneak peek into new Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie's draft philosophy?Look no further.With the Raiders holding draft selections in the third, fourth, fifth and sixth rounds (two each in the fourth and fifth rounds) McKenzie held a pre-draft media conference Wednesday at the team's headquarters."We're in the beginning stages of our draft meetings," McKenzie said. "Been going on a couple of days so we're looking forward to getting our draft board exactly the way we want it and also excited to see all the players around and working out and getting familiar with the coaching staff. So this is an exciting time and we're just going to try and see if we can get better each day. But the draft preparations are going very well. All the scouts are in and getting this board the way we want it."Thanks to compensatory selections awarded them, the Raiders' first selection comes at the end of the third round, No. 95 overall.McKenzie has said he wants to pick the best player available, regardless of need. Still, I asked him what the Raiders' biggest needs were heading into the draft."You know what? When I talk to the coaching staff about (it), we need depth," he said. "We feel like weve got players that we can line up at a lot of spots. And weve got some good players. But when you talk about a guy goes down (injured), who do we have? A guy goes down here we need depth at a few spots. Quite a few spots. And some of these guys, its going to play out with the competition that we already have. The coaches are going to have to get to know some of these guys who are already on the roster."But we need some depth, regardless. To compete and hopefully win jobs. And thats what were targeting. When we say 'best player,' whether its D-line, linebacker, O-line, tight end, I mean, it doesnt matter. We want to get a good player."Weve got five picks, we need to make them all count."McKenzie is in a unique situation in that this is going to be his first draft, but his first selection won't come until the last pick of the second night of the draft. He has an opportunity to sit tight and watch the proceedings unfold.So that means he can ease into it real calm-like, right?"Absolutely not," McKenzie said with a big grin. "I wont be OK. Its hard to sleep now. Its an exciting time. This has been, Coach (Al) Davis, this has been his deal since the Raiders were the Raiders. So, I am the new guy. This is my first time drafting after a legend has been drafting for the Raiders for so long. So, its huge. But I am excited about it and I am looking forward to it."There are still so many people in the organization, so I get to hear everything about how he used to do it."Which begs a couple of questions -- would Davis have traded away a first-round draft pick for Carson Palmer, as former coach Hue Jackson convinced the Raiders to do last year? And will McKenzie even pay attention to the early-round talent since he does not select until 95th?"We'll take a look at them," McKenzie said. "We're going to go through the process. When Cincinnati's pick, from us, comes up (at No. 17 overall), we're going to figure out who's the guy on the board that we would like to have.McKenzie smiled."But we'll go through that process.," he added. "I need to go through that process. Being my first year, I want to go through that process. Second round also. Even the third round."That's when things really get started for McKenzie and the Raiders.