Before the season started, the Oakland Raiders were the talk of the town. Jack Del Rio‘s Raiders climbed out of the cellar in 2016, establishing themselves as one of the best young teams in the NFL. They experienced their first winning season, double digit win season, and playoff berth in over a decade. However, after a 2-0 start, the Raiders have dropped four straight. Who is to blame for this collapse? Many are saying general manager, Reggie McKenzie.
The Raider Nation vs. Reggie McKenzie
This is, of course, absolutely ludicrous. Reggie McKenzie is the reigning Executive of the Year. Many people have helped build the Raiders from crap to contender, but McKenzie’s fingerprints are all over the blueprints of the modern silver and black. However, the critics have the right to make their opinions known, so let’s acknowledge them.
The low-hanging fruit of this argument is easily McKenzie’s draft history. After all, he hasn’t nailed every single pick, and quite a few of his players haven’t panned out. Let’s go over McKenzie’s draft history, and see what they mean. Here’s a list of players that Reggie McKenzie drafted that are no longer on the team.
Tony Bergstrom, Miles Burris, Jack Crawford, Juron Criner, Christo Bilukidi, Nathan Stupar, David Bass, Brice Butler, Stacy McGee, Mychal Rivera, Latavius Murray, Nick Kasa, Tyler Wilson, Sio Moore, Menelik Watson, D.J. Hayden, Jonathan Dowling, Shelby Harris, Andre Debose, Anthony Morris, Max Valles, Neiron Ball, and Ben Heeney.
That means that of all the players McKenzie has drafted in the last five years, these 23 are no longer on the team. Now to be fair, some of these guys were good, and they simply became too expensive for the Raiders. To really judge how often McKenzie has missed, you have to look at which of these players are unsigned today.
Burris, Criner, Bilukidi, Rivera, Kasa, Wilson, Moore, Dowling, Debose, Morris, Valles, Ball, and Heeney are all currently free agents. It would be wasted breath to remind people that of this group, Sio Moore was drafted the highest, in the third round. So, in order to really break down how solid of a drafter McKenzie is, you have to compare him to other executives. So I’m going to go through the last five drafts of the last three Super Bowl Champions, and listing the players that are no longer on the roster.
The New England Patriots
Chandler Jones, Tavon Wilson, Jake Bequette, Alfonzo Dennard, Jeremy Ebert, Steve Beauharnais, Michael Buchanan, Josh Boyce, Logan Ryan, Aaron Dobson, Jamie Collins, Jeremy Gallon, Jemea Thomas, Zach Moore, Jon Halapio, Bryan Stork, Dominique Easley, Tre’ Jackson, Matthew Wells, A.J. Derby, Darryl Roberts, Xzavier Dickson, Devin Lucien, Kamu Grugier-Hill, and Jacoby Brissett.
Interestingly enough, the Patriots have kept the services of three fewer draftees. Naturally, you’ll have recognized a few of the names on that list, like Chandler Jones and Jacoby Brissett, so I’ll do the same thing I did for the Raiders, listing only the players that are free agents.
Lucien, Jackson, Wells, Dickson, Stork, Moore, Thomas, Gallon, Beauharnais, Buchanan, Boyce, Dobson, Bequette, Dennard, and Ebert were all drafted by the Patriots but are without a team in 2017. That’s two more than the Raiders, and Aaron Dobson was a second round pick. Should the Patriots be campaigning for Bill Belichick to lose drafting privileges?
The Denver Broncos
With the Denver Broncos and the team after, we’ll be skipping a step, just naming the free agents that the team drafted, because there’s a lot to explain and we’re already over 500 words.
Darius Kilgo, Taurean Nixon, Josh Furman, Michael Schofield, Montee Ball, Quanterus Smith, Vinston Painter, Ronnie Hillman, Omar Bolden, and Philip Blake were drafted by the Broncos but are no longer on the team. Montee Ball was a second round pick, is John Elway a bad general manager too?
The Seattle Seahawks
Same as before, here are the players that the Seahawks drafted that are no longer signed to a NFL team. Greg Scruggs, Winston Guy, Jaye Howard, Michael Bowie, Jared Smith, Ty Powell, Ryan Seymour, Tharold Simon, Jesse Williams, Chris Harper, Kiero Small, Eric Pinkins, Garrett Scott, Jimmy Staten, Ryan Murphy, Kristjan Sokoli, Obum Gwacham, Tye Smith, Terry Poole, Zac Brooks, Kenny Lawler, and Joey Hunt. That means the Seahawks drafted 22 players that aren’t good enough to play on a NFL team. A team that has been to two Super Bowls in recent memory have drafted half as many busts as Oakland has.
Was that overkill? Absolutely. But in order to expose just how absolutely ridiculous the argument is, you have to highlight how unfounded it is. Does Reggie McKenzie nail every pick? Absolutely not. But nobody does. Reggie McKenzie has absolutely missed on 13 players, but what about the players he’s drafted that have panned out?
Khalil Mack, Derek Carr, Gabe Jackson, Mario Edwards, Amari Cooper, and Karl Joseph have all been quality starters Reggie McKenzie has drafted. Throw in solid role players like T.J. Carrie, Justin Ellis, DeAndre Washington, and Clive Walford, and the good more than outweighs the bad.
And that’s just the drafting. That’s not including everything he’s done in free agency. He added Kelechi Osemele, Rodney Hudson, Michael Crabtree, Novorro Bowman, Donald Penn, Bruce Irvin, Marshawn Lynch and others through free agency. When you compare what the management before McKenzie did? Blaming Reggie for our struggles isn’t just wrong, it’s downright irresponsible.
McKenzie took a team that was in cap hell with very few draft picks and turned it into one with Super Bowl potential. They haven’t lived up to their expectations yet in 2017, but that’s hardly Reggie McKenzie’s fault. The Raiders might not win the Super Bowl this year, but thanks to the team McKenzie has built, they very may well be soon.