There are 32 general managers in the NFL, but few might be as confident as Las Vegas Raiders GM Mike Mayock when it comes to the 2020 NFL Draft.
For the first time in its history, the draft will be held virtually this year because of COVID-19. As you can imagine, this presents a lot of obstacles; however, Mayock and his scouting department aren't worried.
While one of the biggest issues over the last month has been performing physicals during free agent signings, and should continue to be an issue during the draft, Mayock, Head Coach Jon Gruden and their crew have done their due diligence. Each team usually congregates together in the draft room, but this year everyone will operate individually from their homes, and Mayock has a nice setup in his living room.
"As far as this draft is concerned, I kind of laugh because everyone is talking about this virtual draft and how high tech it is, if you could see my living room right now it's the ultimate in low tech," Mayock joked during his conference call Tuesday. "I have five huge whiteboards, I probably have 1,000 magnets with names on them, all over the place. I feel like I'm still sitting in the middle of a 1976 draft room, it's kind of like Back to the Future."
Mayock and Gruden aren't shy about being old school guys, but the current situation has been enjoyable for the most part. Last year, the duo emphasized drafting foundational pieces who share a genuine love for the game of football. Mayock's appreciated that he's still been able to gauge that level of commitment to the game during video calls.
"As far as the process is concerned in this draft, we've spent a lot of time on Zoom," he said. "Our coaches have done an unbelievable job of preparing information to challenge the college player via Zoom. I don't even know how many we've done so far, but it's been pretty cool spending up to an hour with each of these individual kids and getting to know them that way. From a draft process, we're all doing it the same way. Nobody has an advantage and the Raiders are 100 percent ready to go, and we're excited about this draft."
If you're a member of Raider Nation, everyone should be excited about the upcoming draft. Mayock and Gruden have positioned the Raiders in an excellent spot with two first round picks and a trio of third round picks. Because of their success in signing key free agents in March, it's allowed the front office to hone in on the needs that can be addressed during the draft, with the biggest one being wide receiver.
Despite signing Nelson Agholor — who Mayock views as a great addition — the team is cognizant of the fact it needs a WR1, and there are plenty of prospects who fit that mold in the 2020 Draft Class.
"There's quality at the top, there's depth throughout, it's no secret we need to get better at wide out, we understand that," Mayock said. "We really like adding Nelson Agholor, but we still need to get better at wideout. Again, it's kind of like the corner conversation, I think you have to let it come to you a little bit; whether it's in the first round, second round, third round, fifth round, I'm hoping to find a wideout that fits the Raiders' need and culture."
To elaborate on Mayock's comment, the cornerback position has quickly risen to the top of the team's needs list. Trayvon Mullen proved during his rookie year that he's capable of being the starter for years to come, but he needs a complementary piece on the opposite side of the field.
The 2020 NFL Draft will feature several talented cornerbacks who are worthy of being drafted in the first round, but Mayock doesn't want to reach. Currently slated to pick at No. 12 and No. 19 overall, the Raiders were once predicted by NFL analysts to select a linebacker at No. 19, but the additions of Cory Littleton and Nick Kwiatkoski have caused those predictions to become highly unlikely. Analysts now foresee the Raiders selecting a cornerback at No. 19, but that remains to be seen.
As the draft progresses, Mayock and Gruden will evaluate their draft board as players are selected, and weigh their options accordingly. With the draft being virtual, it presents an interesting element to the complexity of the whole thing, but don't fret, Raider Nation, Mayock and his five white boards are prepared.