There's been no hesitation in finding the right pieces for the Las Vegas Raiders since the beginning of free agency.
General Manager Dave Ziegler is in attendance at the Annual League Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, with Head Coach Josh McDaniels, and the two have a more concrete plan going into the 2023 season of how they want to shape their roster with their coaching and scouting staff.
One season after making a few splashy acquisitions in All-Pro receiver Davante Adams and edge rusher Chandler Jones, Ziegler and his staff found the Raiders' next quarterback in Jimmy Garoppolo. The former New England Patriots and San Francisco 49ers quarterback comes to Las Vegas having posted a 40-17 career record as a starting QB. Ziegler was the Patriots assistant director of pro scouting when the team drafted Garoppolo in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft.
"If there's two important aspects of the quarterback position, it's someone that has a high level of leadership skills and someone that has been a proven winner. And that's what Jimmy's done over the course of his career," Ziegler said on "Upon Further Review with Eddie Paskal."
"He's a guy that we have some background with. We also have done a lot of research on Jimmy since he was with us in New England during his time in San Francisco. The two things that you get when you talk to people that have been around Jimmy is that Jimmy has a way about him from a leadership standpoint where the locker room embraces him. And Jimmy has a lot of belief from the team as a quarterback because he's went out and won a lot of football games. Those are two highly, highly important character characteristics when you're talking about any quarterback."
Another offensive piece to the puzzle that Ziegler and the Raiders added is wide receiver Jakobi Meyers. By 2019, Ziegler was working as director of pro personnel in New England when Meyers was brought in as an undrafted rookie from NC State. He considers Meyers as a player that came into the league with "a chip on his shoulder" that has propelled him to success.
Meyers evolved into a premier receiver for the Patriots, leading the team in a majority of receiving categories the last three seasons. It was a no-brainer to Ziegler that a player with the skillset and character of Meyers would benefit the locker room and culture of the Raiders.
"He has a high passion and a love for football, which is another important trait that we want the Las Vegas Raiders to embody," Ziegler said. "There's some intangible things there that are really attractive to us.
"He showed the ability consistently over the last course of, you know, three plus years here to be able to get open and catch the football versus some of the better defensive backs in the league from multiple alignments. He can do it from the inside. He's done it from the outside. A highly productive player and reliable player on third down – a critical down in the NFL. And so Jakobi has a lot of, I'd say intangible traits and then the physical skill sets and what he's done in the league as a receiver speaks to itself."
While the Raiders have signed several productive players early this offseason, their job is nowhere near finished. They have 12 picks in the 2023 NFL Draft next month, the most of any team currently. Ziegler has been working diligently at the Scouting Combine and college pro days meeting players. In the process, he's been able to evaluate body types and skills sets of prospects as well as talk football with the 2023 draft class.
Ziegler echoed McDaniels' sentiment of drafting the best player available at every spot, no matter the position or team needs.
"We're never going to be afraid of the quarterback position to make that position a position of strength. And so if that means we're drafting a young player at a certain point of the draft, we're always going to be open to doing that regardless of what our situation is. And that's going to be no different this year."
View photos of all the Raiders' free agency additions and re-signed players headed into the 2023 season.