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Best Bytes: Mayock's conference call with the local media

Opening Statement from General Manager Mike Mayock: "This was a rollercoaster of a weekend; we had a blast. We feel like we got better this weekend and that obviously is the goal. Tough time nationally and internationally, and all our thoughts and prayers go out to the people around the world. Unique circumstances this year, so it was a little bit of a reflective time. I'm here to answer your questions and talk a little bit about the Raiders and our future."

Q: You guys drafted John Simpson today and you signed three guards this offseason, what does that say about the future of Gabe Jackson?

Mayock: "The future of Gabe Jackson? He's our starting right guard. We signed [Eric] Kush and we signed [Jordan] Devey, but both those guys can play all three interior positions. They're inside guys and I think Gabe Jackson is our starting right guard. That's exactly what it says."

Q: Both of the players that you took today were expected to maybe go a little higher in the draft, were you surprised that they were there in the fourth round?

Mayock: "Yeah, I went to bed last night with a plan to trade up - wasn't sure with who. We started calling teams last night and continued early this morning. We ended up getting the third pick in this round with Detroit and we really wanted to get that Clemson guard. He was a guy that we had on our board for yesterday, depending on how the board fell. We would have taken him in the third round. We kind of felt like he was going to go quickly. We were able to use our fifth-round pick to move up and get him. Then [Head Coach] Jon [Gruden] and I started talking about pick 139 which is the pick we got from New England yesterday. Jon asked me about Amik Robertson and I said there's no way he's going to get to pick 139. Boy, were we excited when he did. He's a competitive, tough kid and if he was two inches taller he would have gone yesterday. That's the only knock on him. He's a competitive, tough and smart kid. We were thrilled with the way day three went."

Q: Is Robertson someone that can play outside in the slot? Where would you project him initially?

Mayock: "Yeah, I think ultimately he looks like a nickel [back] to me. He played mostly outside at Louisiana Tech. I talked to his defensive coordinator this morning, Bob Diaco, who I've known for years. And Bob jumped up on the table for him both as a person and a player. I asked him the same questions to confirm what I saw on tape. He's and inside out guy. Bob said 'Yeah, you're not going to like his length outside but you're going to love his speed, toughness and competitiveness.' Ultimately to me, he's got the physical traits and toughness that you would love as a nickel in the NFL."

Q: It seems like he has got pretty good ball skills. That's been an issue with the Raiders for a while – getting turnovers on interceptions and defending passes. Is that a strength of his?

Mayock: "That's a fair point on both sides. He had 14 career interceptions. He's always around the football. He's an instinctual kid and he's not afraid to go make a play. I think that's underrated - he's looking to make plays. It's interesting because when he gets beat occasionally, it's because he's trying to make plays. We need to get much better at taking the football away on defense. This is the kind of kid who thrives on that. So, I think that's been a point of focus."

Q: With no fifth, sixth or seventh round picks and no offseason program this year, was this a year where it was going to be harder for lower round picks to make the team?

Mayock: "Another good question. We didn't have any sixth or seventh round picks heading into this weekend and one of our concerns was depending on what happens with the pandemic, we think there's a pretty good chance we're not going to see our rookies in person until maybe training camp. If that's the case, you better make sure your rookies are smart, hard-working and accountable because they're going to have a shortened period of time to make the team. We had seven of the first 139 picks and that was a little bit of the thought process about not trying to trade down out of 139. We had some offers to move out of there and we wanted Robertson if he was there. The further down you get in the draft, the more concerns we had about a kid being able to compete, realistically compete to make the roster."

Check out snapshots of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, analysts, draft prospects and more as they participate in the 2020 NFL Draft.

Q: You targeted wideout and cornerback, how do you feel about what you got in the draft?

Mayock: "We went into draft knowing we had to get better at wideout. I think everyone in league knew it, even the causal fans knew it. We feel like we addressed the wide receiver position in two different and dynamic ways. [Henry] Ruggs III flies. You all know that – fastest player in draft. We think he changes what we do offensively. [Bryan] Edwards is the opposite, big, physical, tough. We love the physicality he brings. We feel we've brought in two distinctly different receivers. I keep saying I trust in [Head Coach] Jon Gruden and what he does on offense. He knows how to use guys and put them in the best position to make plays. On defense, we think [Damon] Arnette is one of the toughest kids in the draft at any position. You find a corner with his instincts and toughness. We love him. We thought he was a special football player. We think he'll come in day he's going to compete. We expect him to compete for a starting job. We talked about [Amik] Robertson already today. Inside or outside it's another competitor, another guy [assistant head coach/special teams coordinator] Rich Bisaccia is going to love him on special teams. We expect all of these guys to come in and compete on day one."

Q: You begin offseason virtual OTAs on Monday, can you give us an idea of what that looks like and do you feel you can get a lot of work done even with the restrictions in place?

Mayock: "It's tough. The rookies can't even start on Monday. They have to wait for the virtual rookie minicamp in May. So it makes it even more difficult. The one thing I learned over last month or six weeks or whatever it's been, I couldn't believe how creative our coaches got with our Zoom presentations to the college players. I guarantee you they bring the same creativity to our Raider players as we go through the virtual. It' s going to be learning more than anything. I know our coaches have put in a lot of time and effort. It's not unlike the kindergarten teachers and the third grade teachers and everyone around the country trying to put their best foot forward to teach people from home. That's what I stress with all the veterans I talk to and every single rookie we drafted. Once we could get them integrated into our virtual program, we expect 100 percent attention. They better be ready to hit the ground running whenever we're allowed to."

Q: With the moves you've made in free agency and now the draft, do you feel you've closed the gap at all with the Chiefs.

Mayock: "That's a loaded question, that's a tough question. They're the World Champs. I've known Andy Reid for a lot of years. Watching the way he and Brett Veach approach the draft, all they do is get faster. They drafted that great running back from LSU then they drafted Willie Gay, the linebacker I love. They keep getting faster and keep raising the raise bar. I don't know the answer to that just yet. We feel like we got better in free agency and I know we feel like we got better in the draft. Nobody is going know how much or if at all until we get out on the field and compete. That's the thing I love about it. I cannot wait, so many of our guys are texting me and calling me. They miss the fact they won't be there on Monday. That's what I love about our group of guys."

Q: Have you had a chance to talk to Derek Carr yet? He has some nice new toys to play with, as does Coach Gruden. Any idea or any feedback from him on what you guys were able to do?

Mayock: "We've been texting back and forth over the weekend. It started with Ruggs III pick. He doesn't know who we're picking. I got about five texts with 'W-O-W-!'. He was just fired up with that pick. Then we get [Bryan] Edwards and [Lynn] Bowden [Jr.], I don't even know how to make emojis. I was just looking at all these emojis like 'I guess he's happy, that looks good'. Bottom line, what I said last night is what we're trying to do is get more dynamic on offense and I think that's what Derek recognizes as well."

Q: You lean towards trusting your evaluation rather than the consensus on rounds or where a player is graded. What does it take to constantly take that approach going into the draft?

Mayock: "It's interesting, because I've spent so many years watching the other GM's do it, 18 years watching 32 teams draft. I got close to a lot of different people around the league. I have a lot of respect for a lot of people. I texted good friend of mine yesterday who is a GM and said to him, 'I love your draft. You stay patient every year and you trust your board.' It sounds really simple, but it's so frickin' hard to do. That's what they've done for years and that's what Jon and I have been talking about ever since I've been here. We're joined together at the hip. Let's be patient, let's trust board. We've done all the work. We really don't care what anybody outside our building thinks. We have one goal and that's winning the Super Bowl. At the end of the day, nothing else matters. I think Jon and I have stayed consistent and we've had a lot of fun doing it too."

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