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At his first NFL Combine as head coach, Antonio Pierce is in his element

Antonio Pierce was all smiles Wednesday afternoon in Indianapolis, rocking his trademark diamond stud earrings, a black Raiders hoodie and crisp white low-top Converse Chuck Taylors.

While going through the process of evaluating talent at the Scouting Combine, you could still tell Pierce was in his element.

What makes Pierce's first NFL Combine as the Raiders head coach so interesting is being on the other side of the table. Two decades ago, he was a linebacker coming out of Arizona, vying for a job in the NFL.

"It's cool because I get to call their bluff. I know when they're 'BSing' me," Pierce joked about conducting interviews with prospects. "We're having a lot of fun with the guys in there because they're coming in guarded. We have this booklet that has thousands of these things that we know about the player already and it's cool to sit there and watch and see if they're going to tell the truth, be blunt and honest or try to guard themselves.

"But it's a very stressful time for these guys. Multiple interviews, you're on the clock, you hear horns buzzing and people yelling down the halls. It's really interesting to see who can stay focused during this time period and who takes this seriously."

Pierce is not secretive about what type of players he's looking for in the draft. His desire is to add competition to the quarterback room, offensive and defensive lines, and the secondary. He believes his team already has several quality pieces in place, but wants to keep adding depth.

He was also clear that while the Silver and Black are looking to bring in another quarterback, Aidan O'Connell, who went 3-1 with a 8:0 touchdown-interception ratio to end his rookie season, should not be overlooked.

"I'm watching a gentleman that knows he has a lot to work on, and the first thing he did once the season was over is get his butt right back in the building," Pierce said. "It would be disrespectful for me to talk about anyone other than Aidan, but Aidan does know there's competition. ... That's one thing about this team, they're very competitive and they understand it's next-man up mentality."

When asked what intangibles he's looking for in these young prospects, he said they'll "have a little bit of AP in them" if they're selected by the Raiders. He rattled off a few traits that also mirrored what General Manager Tom Telesco noted he's looking for.

"Leadership," Pierce said, "tough, passion, love for the game, and they want to be a Raider."

Take a look at the coaching staff Head Coach Antonio Pierce has brought in to lead the team during the 2024 season.

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