Pressure seems to be one of the main themes for the Las Vegas Raiders heading into next week.
It's hard to ignore the pressure considering the team currently holds 12 picks in the 2023 NFL Draft, and the seventh pick in the first round Thursday night. This draft class has incredible upside, giving the Silver and Black an opportunity to upgrade the roster at all positions.
Albeit there's pressure to make the right moves in the draft, that's not necessarily a bad thing. Pressure creates diamonds, and Ziegler fully embraces making the big decisions that could bring in those diamonds.
"I want to get 12 contributing players," Ziegler said during his pre-draft media availability Friday. "We put that pressure on ourselves, I put that pressure on myself and Josh [McDaniels] puts that pressure on himself. As a scouting department, we feel that pressure in a good way because I think that pressure drives you. When you're meeting for 15 straight days, there's a monotony that you could let grow in, but I think that pressure and motivation to get it right, that motivation to improve the team, that's the pressure that keeps us pushing and keeps us focused and dialed in."
There's been a lot of speculation around what the Raiders will do with their first-round pick. The options include staying at No. 7, trading up for a prospect or trading back for even more draft capital. No matter who they decide to go with, Ziegler is adamant on selecting the best player available who will compete on the roster immediately.
"You want to find a starting level player at that spot, there's no doubt about that," the GM said. "And I think along with that, you want to find a player that hopefully fits a need that you have. We're going to look at the best available players, but we also have a lot of places on this team where we can add competition and help our roster. We want to find a player that fits what we look for in a Raiders player. We want to find someone that has a passion for football, find someone that has some upside, has some explosiveness to their game that can impact the game in a positive way ... and have positive impact on the organization as a person too."
"[W]e haven't ruled anything out in that regard, and we won't," continued Ziegler. "Whether that's for pick No. 7 or if that's pick 100. We'll take every pick individually, assess the situation and what makes most sense for us, in terms of standing firm and picking or moving up or moving back."
Ziegler gave a detailed evaluation of the draft class, with the quarterback, cornerback and tight end positions being a few in question. It's been a process for his team to look a different players and predict how their skillset could be maximized in McDaniels' system. Ziegler is also not limiting evaluating to just his scouting department and coaching staff, but extending to his players as well. He noted he's been getting some solid intel from a few Raiders who have played with or against a few prospects in the 2023 draft class.
With the cohesion and continuity developed since first arriving to Las Vegas a year ago, Ziegler also believes he's more confident going into his second NFL Draft with his staff aligned.
"Last year was the first time I had worked with our group going through this process, and now we're kind of in year two, and so you have a little bit of a better understanding. The guys have a little bit of a better understanding of what we're looking for," he said. "There was less teaching going on, more just getting into the nuts and bolts of the film, the nuts and bolts of the evaluation process. Many more people speaking the same language and things of that nature. That all has led to just a more comfortable, and I'd say, clear, fluid process for us.
"It doesn't guarantee any results, but we definitely feel confident in what we've done, and I feel confident in the group that we have and the level of comfort is high."
View photos of players arriving at Intermountain Healthcare Performance Center for the start of the 2023 voluntary offseason program.