The NFL is a moving and shaking league. Fortunately, the Raiders have a general manager who knows how to adjust on the fly in Mike Mayock.
Honestly, Mayock has had no choice but to adjust on the fly for the past 18 months.
After the initial 53-man roster was released Tuesday, the team is moving forward into the future with a team consisting mainly of their past three draft classes, including each of the 2021 draft picks making the 53-man roster or practice squad. Mayock and the team have dealt with a large amount of adversity amid the COVID-19 global pandemic, including the 2020 draft class not having a full offseason.
"Last year for me was a little different," Mayock told the media Wednesday. "I was frustrated because I felt in our system, on both sides of the ball, it's tough on young guys. The volume is tough – especially on offense – it's tough. So no offseason camp was brutal, managing COVID was hard.
"This year, back to kind of normal, and I'm fired up. And it's part of A) being back to normal and B) just the accumulation of three years."
Mayock has taken great pride in seeing the team he's helped build develop, describing this roster as "a jigsaw puzzle."
"I've been here three years and it's kind of been fun to see the evolution of both the draft picks and the college free agents, and what you're trying to do in free agency," said Mayock. "I think from a draft pick perspective it's been kind of fun – because again Year 3 for me – to kind of look back to '19 and see who's become leaders on this team. To see some of those guys – even on the third day of the 2019 draft – guys like Maxx Crosby, Foster Moreau, Hunter Renfrow. All three of those guys are leaders now. ... That class has kind of grown up and to me, that's fun. Seeing them in Year 3, they're growing into men now.
"Last year's group took a little bit of a step up this year in camp with the two first-round picks. [Henry] Ruggs came in a little bit [of] a different guy, you can feel his speed more than last year. [Damon] Arnette, I like the way he's approached this camp and I think Casey Hayward has been a really steady influence on him. Bryan Edwards, everybody's excited about him. John Simpson is playing his tail off. I think one of the cool stories of this camp is Amik [Robertson]. Amik looks like the guy we saw back two years ago in college, both inside and outside."
The Raiders went 2-1 this preseason and saw a lot of young guys step up to contribute in big ways. There's a lot of pressure on Mayock and Gruden coming off a 8-8 season and barely missing the playoffs. Mayock made it clear that he's not running away from that pressure though. He believes the team he's helped construct can do great things.
"My dad used to say, 'Don't worry about whether or not the horse is blind, just load the freaking truck,' and that's where we are. We've assembled 53 players. We think we're going to be a pretty good football team. We're not hiding from expectations. I think Jon and I will both tell you that we feel like we need to be a playoff team this year, and I don't think there's any doubt about that. You guys are all going to put that in your headlines, and I understand it. That's what the expectation is.
"We think we've done the infrastructure work necessary to put us in position, and we got to take care of business."
Take a look at the 53 players on the Silver and Black's current roster. (Last updated Tuesday, December 14)