To put in perspective the process of creating an NFL draft strategy, consider this: There are members of the Raiders staff that are already working on the 2023 draft.
The year-round nature of the draft is particularly noteworthy for the Raiders, who completed a sweeping change last January with the hiring of coach Josh McDaniels, general manager Dave Ziegler and assistant general manager Champ Kelly.
Those three, along with an nearly revamped assistant coaching staff, were thrust together with holdovers from the Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock regime and tasked with making a draft plan on the fly.
After years of McDaniels and Ziegler viewing things through a New England Patriots lens — and Kelly a Chicago Bears scope — they had to meld their perspectives with a staffers that had spent the last three years or so assessing things from a Raiders point of view.
They all had to figure out a way to make it work in a way that leaves the Raiders as well-positioned as possible to conduct a successful draft this week.
“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 scouting philosophy that we have now,” Ziegler said.
Simultaneously, Ziegler had to get his staff up to speed on the scouting and evaluation principles from which he wants to build a foundation.
“There’s an adjustment because part of that adjustment is teaching the philosophy, right?” Ziegler said. “So, you’re not usually getting into this time of year and when you’ve been out of place for a long time there’s not that educational teaching component that needs to take place.”
With time of the essence, Ziegler had to streamline things to get ahead of the draft — a process that also overlapped with the first free agency period he oversaw.
“You only have so much time you can dedicate to teaching and everything,” Ziegler said. “So, there was an element of our scouts being assimilated into our scouting philosophy.
”I would say in terms of like the focus and those types of things, we ended up just really taking, you always do, but we took I’d say a wide-lens view of the draft board.”
For a detailed worker like Ziegler, it almost meant taking a couple of steps back. Where normally teams would be at Point Y of the process in January, the Raiders had to push back their starting point.
It was the equivalent of hitting the brakes of a college class at the mid-semester point and starting all over. With finals and the end of the semester swiftly approaching.
“We just said let’s go through the whole thing because there’s going to be a heavy learning component of talking the same language, how we look at different positions and things like that,” Ziegler said. “Probably a broader focus just because we’re learning a lot of things rather than say, ‘Hey, we know where we want to go, like these three areas are our top three priorities. Let’s dig into there first.”
That exercise included building his own understanding of the Raiders’ roster. After years of having command of the Patriots’ depth chart, he was starting over.
“I think when you’ve been at a place for a long time and you have that feel for your roster and you have the feel for your scouts, you might have a focused approach but this was part of a bigger picture,” Ziegler said. “I’d say a professional development aspect to this approach this year than it’s maybe different than what it would have been in New England.”
Contact Vincent Bonsignore at email@example.com. Follow @VinnyBonsignore on Twitter.