ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) - Mike Mayock has spent more than a decade as an analyst at NFL Network, studying all the teams and their rosters trying to find the best fits for each player in the draft.
Now Mayock gets the chance to use that knowledge he gained to try to rebuild the Oakland Raiders after he was hired Monday to be the team’s new general manager alongside coach Jon Gruden.
Mayock replaced the recently fired Reggie McKenzie and now gets his first chance in an NFL front office at age 60.
“For the last 15 years, I think I’ve tried to be the GM for all 32 teams,” he said. “I’ve been in all 32 buildings for the last 15 years. I know what it looks like, I know what it smells like. I just need a little help with the mechanics.”
Gruden had been searching for a general manager after the team fired McKenzie earlier in a 4-12 season that ended Sunday with a 35-3 loss to Kansas City. It was an underwhelming return to the sideline for Gruden, who got a 10-year, $100 million contract to return for a second stint in Oakland after spending nine seasons as an analyst at ESPN.
Gruden inherited McKenzie, who won the 2016 NFL executive of the year award for his rebuilding job after the death of owner Al Davis in 2011. The pairing didn’t work as Gruden frequently criticized McKenzie’s recent drafts and got rid of many of those players.
Now the Raiders are hoping for a better working relationship between Gruden and Mayock, who have known each other for more than 20 years and frequently talked about draft prospects when they were analysts for ESPN and NFL Network, respectively.
“I know a lot of people in this business who love football and study football,” Gruden said. “I don’t really know anybody who loves it and studies it more than Mike Mayock.”
The Raiders will have three first-round picks in April’s draft. Oakland has its own pick, which will be fourth in the draft, as well as first-rounders from Chicago and Dallas, which will be in the bottom 12 picks in the first round.
Oakland acquired those picks by dealing McKenzie’s best two first-round picks from his seven-year tenure in Oakland. Star pass rusher Khalil Mack was traded to the Bears before the season for a package that included two first-round picks following a contract holdout, and receiver Amari Cooper was dealt during the season to the Cowboys for a 2019 first-rounder.
Only 11 players drafted by McKenzie from 2012 to 2017 remain under contract with the Raiders, led by quarterback Derek Carr and right guard Gabe Jackson from the 2014 class, and 2016 first-round safety Karl Joseph and 2017 first-round cornerback Gareon Conley.
The Raiders will have plenty of holes to fill this offseason following another disappointing campaign. Oakland has just one winning season in the past 16 years, going 12-4 under Jack Del Rio in 2016.
But otherwise the team has experienced nothing but losing, posting the second-worst record in the NFL since the start of the 2003 season.
This season was up there with some of the worst in that stretch. The Raiders allowed their most points (467) in a season since 1961 and set marks for franchise worsts in sacks (13) and yards per play allowed (6.27) as the absence of an impact pass rusher like Mack was felt all season.
The offense had its own problems as a line featuring rookie tackles Kolton Miller and Brandon Parker for most of the season failed to protect Carr. Oakland allowed 52 sacks, its most since 2006, and Carr often struggled to find the time to get the ball downfield.
That leaves plenty of holes for Mayock to try to fill starting with free agency and the trade market, where he has no experience.
“I don’t have all the answers,” he said. “To sit in there and try to pretend I did would be disingenuous. The bottom line for me, I was very honest. There were some things I needed some help with. I talked about the mechanics of the daily regimen. When you start talking about the trades and negotiations and draft day and being on the clock and all that, it’s the first time for me for real.”
While Carr showed some signs of improvement late in the season as he grew more comfortable in Gruden’s system, the offense lacked playmakers on the outside and a game-breaking running back.
The Raiders were barely competitive for much of the season, losing nine games by at least 14 points, tied for the most lopsided losses in the NFL since New England had 10 in 1990.
Oakland was outscored by 177 points on the season, the second-worst mark in the NFL to Arizona.
The next big question for the Raiders will be finding a place to play next season. They are moving to Las Vegas in 2020 but don’t have a lease for next season. Oakland city officials have sued the team and NFL over the move and the Raiders have withdrawn a proposal to stay at the Coliseum for one more year. While they could still return to Oakland, the Raiders also have had talks with the San Francisco Giants about playing in AT&T Park, could look into sharing Levi’s Stadium with the San Francisco 49ers or try to move out of the market for a year.
A decision is expected before the Super Bowl.
“We’ll let the emotion get out of the decision-making process and we’ll go from there,” owner Mark Davis said.
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