McKenzie says he fired Jackson

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McKenzie says he fired Jackson

New Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie said Tuesday at his introductory press conference that the firing of head coach Hue Jackson was a decision he made prior to his arrival at team headquarters.

McKenzie, the former L.A. Raiders linebacker who was hired last week after a long career in the Packers' front office, shared the podium with owner Mark Davis in a packed media room in Alameda.

McKenzie disclosed that when he interviewed he was told that the position of GM would include the power to hire and fire the coach. After accepting the job, McKenzie said he informed the team's owner of his intention to dismiss Jackson.

"No. 1, I want my guy. Everything is based on performance," McKenzie said. "But I go with my gut a lot, so when it's time to make the final call, my gut is going to tell me one thing. When I met, interviewed, with Mr. Davis, Mark told me the general manager would have the power to hire and fire the coach. Recently I let him know that I would like to move on from coach Jackson and began my search for a new coach -- and he was OK with that.

The new general manager said that he'd studied the Raiders and Jackson this year and had made up his mind about the coach's fate within "the last couple of days." The move came four days after the team announced McKenzie's hiring.

"The decision to move forward and where we are going into this new era, it's going to be a time for change," McKenzie said. "I felt there was a need for change at the head coaching position, from the top. We're moving into a new era. No disrespect to coach Jackson but this was something I wanted to do, start anew."

McKenzie spoke of reshaping the franchise with his vision and leadership.

"The legacy of the Raiders is steeped in tradition but with all things there comes a time when change is necessary and for the Raiders, that time is now," McKenzie said. "The Raiders organization, with respect and deference to all its tradition and history, is about to embark on a new era."

What exactly that entails is a quality that McKenzie will define. As it applies to the roster, it will include physical ability, of course, but intangibles will be a part of the process, according to the new GM.

"You want to make sure youve got productive, good football players," McKenzie said. "Its not totally talent. I want some guys who love to play the game, thats going to play hard, thats going to play tough. Thats what Im looking for. Im looking for some guys who want to play and want to win."

Asked about his role in the firing of Jackson and the hiring of McKenzie, Davis said the process of moving the Raiders forward was initiated by the death of his father, Al Davis, the team's longtime owner.

"Change happened on Oct. 8," Davis said, referencing the day of his father's passing. "And we had to bring this full-around. The one thing I do know is what I don't know. And the one thing I did know was I needed to bring the right people in here. I had the right people to consult with (former Packers GM) Ron Wolf and (former Raiders coach) John Madden, and those kind of people. We discussed a lot of things about the Raiders organization and which way it should go.

"And my feeling always has been that if my father wasn't here we needed somebody to run that football side of the building. And I needed to find the right person and I truly believe that Reggie McKenzie is the man for this job and I think you'll all see that as we go along."

Davis said he had a lot of respect for Jackson, that the coach had "brought a lot to this organization. But as Reggie said, it is time to move forward, and that's what we're going to do."

Locals among cornerbacks who can help Raiders early in NFL Draft

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AP

Locals among cornerbacks who can help Raiders early in NFL Draft

The Raiders have an opening in their secondary.

Finding a slot cornerback is a top priority with DJ Hayden now in Detroit. TJ Carrie is an option there, but the Raiders could add a young, versatile talent capable of taking a more prominent role down the line.

That’s true despite the fact Sean Smith signed a free-agent deal through 2019 last year and David Amerson received a contract extension through the 2020 season. Those contracts, however, become pay-as-you-go deals after this season.

The dead money goes away, freeing the Raiders to look for long-term upgrades if they see fit.

Head coach Jack Del Rio loves creating competition and depth, especially at such an important position in today’s NFL. The Raiders like larger, physical cornerbacks with ball skills, and there are plenty in this year’s draft.

Many analysts have the Raiders taking a cornerback at No. 24 overall, and that’s a realistic possibility. They could certainly look to help last year’s No. 24-ranked secondary in the early rounds.

Let’s take a look at some top options available in this week’s draft:

Good fits:There are quite a few quality cornerbacks who could be available at No. 24 overall, even if there’s an early run on the position.

Oakland native and Washington alum Kevin King visited the Raiders during the pre-draft process, and certainly fits what the Raiders like in a cornerback. He’s confident and aggressive, unafraid to use great physical traits to make plays on the ball. He’s tall and long and isn’t afraid to tackle.

USC’s Adoree Jackson has the quality ball skills the Raiders like, and is adept high-pointing the ball. Analysts say he can play several coverage techniques and has the agility to make up for mistakes. He can work in the slot, but at 5-foot-10 isn’t as tall as the Raiders like. They’d have to take him in the first round. He may not last beyond that.

San Jose native and Colorado product Chidobe Awuzie is another interesting local defensive back ready to turn pro. He can play outside or in the slot, and analysts say he has excellent one-on-one coverage skills but needs tackling work. He was a solid slot blitzer at Colorado, and could fill an immediate need crucial against so many three and four receiver sets.

Louisiana State’s Tre’Davious White has experience playing the slot, and could help right away there before transferring outside if asked. He can cover extremely well, though analysts say he isn’t much of a tackler. He might be a tweener as far as the Raiders are concerned, not worthy of the No. 24 pick but long gone before the Raiders pick in the second round.

Central Florida’s Shaquill Griffin visited the Raiders this spring, and rightfully so. A willing run defender with good ball skills and tackling ability who could be available in the third round should intrigue them.

Lynch outcome should determine whether Raiders draft a running back

Lynch outcome should determine whether Raiders draft a running back

It’s officially NFL draft week. Marshawn Lynch still isn’t a Raider.

A contract impasse remained as of Sunday morning, a few days before general manager Reggie McKenzie’s desire for a by-Thursday resolution.

Deadlines, even soft ones, prompt deals. But Marshawn is unique, adding a level of uncertainty to procedings. 

The Raiders would prefer Lynch agree to terms on a new contract so they can acquire his rights from Seattle -- that’s the easier part – and know where they stand heading into the NFL Draft.

McKenzie left several doors cracked during a Friday pre-draft presser, saying Lynch’s presence wouldn’t stop him from drafting a rusher, not having the Oakland native wouldn’t guarantee it, and that there’s always a chance Lynch could come later no matter what happens during amateur selection.

Those things could be true. Or, you know, not. McKenzie prefers mystery this time of year.

Bottom line: The Raiders need a bigger back to pair with smaller, yet elusive runners DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard.

The Raiders want Lynch to fill the void. Ditto for Raider Nation, especially the Oakland state. A few free-agent options remain, including LaGarrette Blount. Or the Raiders could draft a back, something the Raiders have done well in later rounds.

They got Latavius Murray in the sixth round four years back, and he provided quality before changing uniforms this offseason. They got Washington in the fifth last time and pulled Richard from undrafted free agency. They could mine talent again this year. Waiting seems more likely if Lynch is around. 

Quality abounds in this draft class, with several worthy of early selections and talent easily found late. Let’s inspect McKenzie’s draft options at running back, should he need one:

Good fits: It’s hard to see the Raiders looking at a rusher in the first round, considering the draft’s depth at the position and major defensive needs. A first-round talent might be considered in the second. If controversial former Oklahoma rusher Joe Mixon is available following a free fall due to off-field issues described in detail here, a running back might come early.

Tennessee’s Alvin Kamara could be another Day 2 option, an explosive talent who analysts say has wiggle and power to create coveted yards after contact. He could be a three-down back thanks to quality as a receiver.

Odds are, however, the Raiders will look deeper into the draft. Wyoming’s Brian Hill was an excellent college producer who runs strong and might fit well into the Raiders rotation. Round projections vary, but he should be available on Day 3.

Pittsburgh’s James Conner offers great power at 233 pounds. He could run through tacklers and wear down defenses for the Raiders’ shift backs. He's also well known for drive and work ethic. He is projected as a fifth or sixth round pick.

Brigham Young’s Jamaal Williams might offer value and power rushing later in the draft. Clemson’s Wayne Gallman has tackle-breaking ability, but analysts say he isn’t a strong pass protector.