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Dave Ziegler reflects on 2023 NFL Draft and newest Raiders

Dave Ziegler has completed his second NFL Draft as the Las Vegas Raiders GM.

Things seemed to fall in place for the Raiders, with cohesion flowing from Ziegler to Head Coach Josh McDaniels to throughout the coaching staff and scouting department. This year's draft was not only a celebration for the young men whose lives changed in an instant, but a culmination of extensive work for the front office.

The Raiders GM believed the synergy was high between the Silver and Black staff.

"We felt like we had more time and we did have more time just to work through the process from the very beginning," Ziegler said during his post-draft press conference. "What I mean by that is, last year, everything was much more rushed.

"At this time last year, he was still trying to teach the coaches, implementing the offensive system and the defensive system. There was more time needed to be spent, for him, with the coaching staff and with the players, OTAs and things like that. ... There was a lot more time we were able to spend and he was able to spend on the draft process. More clarity, more thoroughness I would say, for us. The communication between him and myself is always very good, but it was just a smoother process."

The Raiders have a lot to be excited about, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Of their nine draft selections, six were defenders – including first-round pick Tyree Wilson from Texas Tech and national champions Byron Young from Alabama and Christopher Smith II from Georgia.

"There was a defensive focus going in or a hope, I would say, that I was going to be a defensive focus, but you really never know how the board's going to go and players you're going to lose out on," said Ziegler. "There was a player or two that we were targeting that did get picked a couple picks before we were going to take them a time or two."

On the offensive side of the ball, tight end Michael Mayer and receiver Tre Tucker were taken in the second and third rounds, while Purdue quarterback Aidan O'Connell was the sole offensive player selected by the Raiders on Day 3. O'Connell was a prospect Ziegler had his eye on since midseason of 2022, with McDaniels aligning on the same vision.

"The one thing about quarterbacks that you don't get to see if you're just watching tape or if you're just watching games, I'd say over 50 percent of their success rate is really about what they're made of from the neck up," Ziegler said of evaluating O'Connell. "Intelligence, ability to process, those type of intangibles, leadership. Felt like he has a lot of those different intangible qualities that we think are really, really important to have any chance to be successful in the league at quarterback."

"Also liked the tape, to be honest with you," continued Ziegler. "I watched him at the end of October. I walked down to Josh … and said, 'When you watch this kid, this is going to be a guy that you like.' A lot of the things that he did at Purdue, some of the things that he showed – there's areas to grow into – but he showed a lot of the things we wanted from the quarterback position."

While the 2023 NFL Draft is now in the books, there's still a lot more work to be done in the building. The Silver and Black now turn their attention to bringing in their draft picks and soon-to-be-signed undrafted free agents for rookie minicamp. The hope is the coaching staff can now build up the rookie class as quickly as possible into the framework of the 2023 roster.

"Excited to move forward," Ziegler said. "Excited about the last three days, excited for the future here and what we have going on."

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the 2023 NFL Draft.

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