It’s no secret, no mystery, no shocking revelation.
The Raiders have been soundly criticized for some recent draft decisions.
More misses than hits. More busts than beauties.
The onus to change now falls on new general manager Dave Ziegler and head coach Josh McDaniels.
As they’ll learn, it’s not always easy swimming in the deep end of the pool.
The two will lead their first draft as Raiders bosses this week as one of the league’s biggest celebrations arrives in Las Vegas from Thursday through Saturday.
Theirs is a competitive spirit to get things right, despite not owning a first- or second-round pick (yet?) — gone via the Davante Adams trade with Green Bay.
The mission: Make sound and fruitful choices.
It’s also a process with no certainty of achievement.
The only sure thing?
There is none.
Judged on draft
“You’re judged on the personnel side by the players that you draft and how well they produce and the types of players that they turn into for the organization,” Ziegler said. “You want every single draft pick and every single player that you sign, you want that player to produce and overproduce in an ideal situation.
“Yeah, we want to have a great draft.”
Hasn’t been the case with various selections by the Raiders of late.
— In April of last year, only three players remained from the team’s 2018 draft.
— In 2019, the Raiders selected defensive lineman Clelin Ferrell of Clemson at No. 4 overall, a pick that has proven far too high. In doing so, the Raiders passed on Josh Allen (No. 7 overall), who made the Pro Bowl as a rookie in Jacksonville and has 20.5 sacks over three seasons.
— The 2020 draft is complicated, given what occurred with first-round picks Henry Ruggs, a wide receiver, and Damon Arnette, a defensive back. Ruggs was released in November when the No. 12 choice overall was involved in a car accident that resulted in the death of another.
Arnette, selected 19th, was also let go when a video showed him with a gun threatening to kill someone. He played just 13 games with the team.
The draft also produced, among others, non-contributors in running back Lynn Bowden Jr. (third round, traded to Miami just months after being selected) and linebacker Tanner Muse (third round, waived before ever taking a regular-season snap with the team).
— In 2021, the Raiders were blasted for picking offensive lineman Alex Leatherwood at No. 17 overall. The player struggled so much at tackle to begin his career, he was moved to guard during his rookie season.
— Just last week, ESPN reported that the team extended second consecutive contracts to just six of 68 post-Al Davis draft picks from 2012 to 2019.
Some good picks
It’s not as if former head coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock struck out on every pick. Kolton Miller (back when Reggie McKenzie was GM). Josh Jacobs. Maxx Crosby. Hunter Renfrow. Impact players were certainly discovered.
But now it’s up to Ziegler and McDaniels, by way of New England. It has taken time — as you would imagine — for them to assimilate a scouting department into their specific beliefs and strategies.
“I would say first and foremost, there was a bit of a transition of coming here and just on how we’re going to look at players here versus the lens and the philosophy that we have,” Ziegler said. “We took — I’d say — a wide lens view of the draft board.
“And so, there’s an adjustment because part of that adjustment is teaching the philosophy, right? Let’s go through the whole thing because there’s going to be a heavy learning component.”
Here’s a thought: When in doubt, don’t overreach.
Ed Graney is a Sigma Delta Chi Award winner for sports column writing and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be heard on “The Press Box,” ESPN Radio 100.9 FM and 1100 AM, from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday. Follow @edgraney on Twitter.