ALAMEDA, Calif. — Might Mike Mayock’s history as a “virtual general manager” for all 32 teams in his previous role as the NFL Network’s draft analyst uniquely prepare him for next week’s unprecedented “virtual NFL draft” and his role as the GM of the Las Vegas Raiders?
Mayock laughed at that notion.
“A virtual GM for 32 teams, huh?” Mayock, the Raiders’ second-year general manager, said Tuesday on a conference call with beat reporters. “I like that. Yeah, that’s a fancy way of saying I sat in my living room and watched a lot of film.
“You can go one of two ways here … you either embrace it and say, ‘This is pretty frickin’ cool that we’re really just going to watch film and trust who we are as evaluators and trust in who we want in our building.’ Or you can kind of look at it and say, ‘Well, I don’t have verified medicals, and I don’t have verified 40s, and I don’t have verified height, weight, speed,’ and panic about it. And I think we kind of, as a team, as a building, we’ve collectively said, ‘We’re going to embrace it.'”
The Raiders, in the midst of their move to Las Vegas and still-under-construction Allegiant Stadium, have seven draft picks: two in the first round, Nos. 12 and 19, and five more of the top 91 selections.
Las Vegas has glaring needs at receiver and cornerback but, with no picks in the second round, could be primed to trade back from No. 19 or use one of its three third-round selections (Nos. 80, 81 and 91) to get into the second round. Mayock has said that he loves picking between No. 20 and No. 60.
Drafting and trading draft picks virtually, though, presents unique challenges — challenges Mayock is already well versed in, so to speak.
“Everyone’s talking about this virtual draft and how high-tech it is,” Mayock said. “If you could see my living room right now, it’s the ultimate in low-tech. I’ve got five huge whiteboards, and I probably have a thousand magnets with names on them all over the place. So I kind of feel like I’m sitting in the middle of a 1976 draft room, and it’s kind of back to the future.”
The scouting hasn’t been done completely without technology, though.
“We’ve spent a lot of time on Zoom,” Mayock said. “Our coaches have done an unbelievable job of preparing information to challenge the college players via the Zoom. I don’t even know how many we’ve done so far, but it’s been pretty cool spending up to an hour with each of these individual kids and getting to know them that way.
“I think the harder thing with this draft is the medical side of it — just trying to verify, especially the guys that had surgery after the new year, what kind of rehab they’re having, are they going to be [healthy] in time for training camp … will there be a training camp? Is there any part of the offseason program that won’t be virtual? And I think that’s where it really gets tricky.”
Mayock said the Raiders will begin their virtual training program April 27. He also said that with every team in the same “virtual” situation, there is no disadvantage to be gleaned.
But Mayock might have an advantage, given his history, right?
“To be honest with you, for me personally … it is kind of what I’ve done for the last 20 years. It truly is,” he said. “I feel very comfortable sitting at my dining room, crunching tape, calling college coaches and looking to get any advantage and any information I can on every guy we’re interested in. So it’s a really good question. And to be honest with you, we’re just, as a group, we’re embracing it. I think it’s been a great process.”