Las Vegas Raiders General Manager Mike Mayock addressed the national media Tuesday. Here is the transcript of his remarks:
On athletes in the draft who can play multiple positions:
Mayock: "I think the league is going that way too, on both sides of the line of scrimmage. I mean you start looking at guys on offense that can play in the slot, play at running back, be H-backs. There is really not a label for them. They're just either dynamic players or they're not. Then you start looking about trying to matchup with those guys on defense and when you start looking in any division, particularly ours and the tight ends for instance that we have to play in our division, and you kind of go, 'who matches up?' You want to play man coverage, who can matchup with those type of guys? They're big guys that run fast, who do we have? So, I think more and more defenses around the league are saying who are the guys that you don't necessarily have to put a label on that are dynamic football players. And Isaiah Simmons has played on the back end, he's played at linebacker, he's come off the edge and really I think the only limitations on him are whatever the defensive coordinator puts on him."
On the state of the quarterback position with Derek Carr:
Mayock: "I'm surprised that it took two questions to get to Derek but thank you. I mean, the bottom line is this, I think everybody needs to understand at what level Derek Carr played last year. The guy completed 70 percent of his passes, he had almost a three to one touchdown/interception ratio. I think we were No. 11 in the league in total yards, we were seventh in third down conversions. We did a lot of really good things on offense last year. The disconnect was we didn't score a lot of points. You're 11th in yards and 24th in points, there's an issue. It's defense, it's special teams, it's not scoring in the red zone and it's not scoring in goal to go. So, to me, those are the issues. Derek Carr played at a high level. I'm very happy with Derek Carr. What I've told everybody I've been in touch with since the day I took this job is we are going to evaluate every position, every year, and if we can get better, we will. Guys get tired of me saying that but that's really what I told Mark Davis before I took the job and that's my mantra."
On the offseason quarterback rumors:
Mayock: "I don't think anything of any rumors. All I can tell you about free agency because I'm not allowed to talk about any of them anyway is that I've watched tape of just about every guy out there at every position and all that does is uphold what I'm telling you, is every position gets evaluated every year and if we can upgrade it, we will."
On the biggest difference between his role at the NFL Network and as a General Manager:
Mayock: "I think the biggest difference for me personally, and it's not a sexy answer, is basically for 18 years I was the lone ranger at the NFL Network. I had to be responsible for my own content, show up here at the combine, do my podium and make sure I knew something about 337 players. Bu then I'd go home and do my individual thing again and get ready for the next hurdles. As a GM, you're managing people and I don't think people really understand sometimes what a job that is. And I enjoy it, it kind of invigorates me. So, one of the first things I had to do after the draft last year was get a different group of scouts in there. So, we made some changes in the personnel department which I couldn't be happier about. So, I'm managing people. Coach Gruden and I collaborate on pretty much everything. What it really comes down to is going from the lone ranger, who just had to watch tape and talk about players, to being in charge of trying to bring and develop something that's really just an individual collection of talent into a football team."
On Antonio Brown:
Mayock: "Antonio Brown, I have very little comment about. I think he had his time at the Raiders, and I think his time there is up."
On if he would like to see Josh Jacobs more involved as a receiver:
Mayock: "Josh obviously had a great year. We couldn't have been happier with Josh. Josh can catch a football and I think challenge No. 1 for him in year two is developing those talents. Now, you got to understand to catch the football on Jon Gruden's offense as a running back, not only do you have to run routes, you got to protect your quarterback. He's got the physical capabilities and the toughness to pass protect. We just have to make sure in stage two this year, this development of him as a receiver, that he can do all of it. If he's got to stay in and knock down a defensive end, he's got to do it. If the linebacker is coming, if he's got to scan. So those are hard things for a rookie running back and we didn't want to put too much on his plate, but he certainly has the physical capabilities to do it and we're going to expect more from him this year in that department."
On why he is always evaluating the quarterback position:
Mayock: "I think arguably the quarterback position in the NFL is the hardest position to play in any pro sport. I believe that. So, we spend a lot of time every year on the college quarterbacks, on the crop of free agent quarterbacks and we'll always do that especially with a Head Coach that is quarterback-centric."
On what traits he looks for in a quarterback:
Mayock: "The traits are leadership, accuracy, there's pocket awareness. There is a hundred different traits I could roll down for you. I think you need to be a leader of men. I think you've got to have a mentality that when you get in the huddle there is 10 people expecting to follow you and you have to be that alpha male, and I think alpha males show up different ways. You don't have to be a screamer and yeller, but you have to earn the respect of your teammates. After that what you are talking about is a guy that can handle Jon Gruden's offense, can spit it out, has the intellectual capacity, the gigawatts, to handle all that and translate it on Sunday. And on top of that of course is accuracy. I think pocket awareness is an underrated commodity. I think it's difficult to really evaluate too many college quarterbacks on pocket awareness because they are playing a different style of football than we are. So, I could give you 1,000 things over 10 hours and bore you to death, but that's kind of the top-end view of it."
On why there have been so many misses at the quarterback position in the draft:
Mayock: "I would argue that there is just as many misses up top at wide receiver as there are at quarterback if you do the numbers and look at the first-round picks. I think the biggest deal at the quarterback position is just the transition from the way they play in college to the way we play in the NFL. The verbiage, the huddles, the leadership and then once the ball is snapped when that picture changes. You think you see something, and the picture changes your ability with a group of grown men trying to knock you down, to stay in the pocket, handle it and go through progressions and find the right guy to get it to. I've asked this question, when I was on the media side, I asked all the top quarterbacks over the last 18 years. I've sat down with the Manning's, the Brady's, everybody over the last 20 years. Is pocket awareness innate or is it something you can learn? And almost every one of them said I've always had it since I was a little kid. You can learn some ball security, drop your shoulder and try to dip through. There are some things you can learn but for the most part you either have it or you don't, an ability to sidestep and find a lane to throw the football. So, it's a really difficult quality to understand."
On the possibility of bringing in a quarterback to fit the offensive system:
Mayock: "We got a quarterback that runs Jon's offense at a very high level."
On using analytics from a scouting perspective:
Mayock: "It's a cross-check. All the new technology...We'd be foolish to say we're not into analytics, GPS or whatever. I used to laugh when I was at NFL Network and they'd put a thing up and a guy ran 53 yards, but he really ran 92.7 at 20.1mph. I was like, 'What does that mean?' He's weaving all over. It's interesting, I thought, but now that I've gotten into it I can go back and confirm in the fourth quarter of a game for a wide receiver or corner that's already played 62 snaps, whether or not he's running as fast in the fourth quarter as he was in the first. And I'd be a dumbass if I wasn't aware of that information."
On reasons for the lack of production from rookie wide receivers in the NFL:
Mayock: "I think there are several reasons. Reason No.1 is the lack of quality press coverage in college football. When you've got a grown man trying to keep you from getting off the line of scrimmage that's competent, long and tough, that's a different issue. That's number one. No. 2 is when you are able to get off the line of scrimmage and the picture changes, the coverage changes, you can go from being the third option on the backside to being the first option on the front side and you got to filter that on the run without slowing down. So, think about it. When you have to slow down and you're thinking, what happens? Physically your slower, you're not there. Why do guys not look as quick as they did in college? That's usually the biggest telltale because they are confused. They are not sure where they are going. And then I think No. 3, it's just how much offense you have to absorb. I've met with some of the college wideouts already this year and what they are doing. Half of them look over at the sideline pre-snap and they have their own individual coach telling them what route to run. Jon Gruden's head would explode. You better get in there and get in the huddle, and you'd better learn three positions not one. And what he's asking you to learn is mind boggling so I think those are the three main reasons rookie wide receiver production isn't where it should be in the NFL."
Take a look at the top 50 prospects leading up to the 2020 NFL Draft, according to NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah.
On if this wide receiver draft class is as good as you have seen in recent years:
Mayock: "I think on the surface and we're starting to dig into that class right now. So, I've seen all these numbers about how many guys are going to go in the first three or four rounds. Here is what I'm going to tell you; the average over the last five years for wide receivers that go in the first three rounds of the draft is about 12. It's between 12 and 13 a year. You can easily make an argument from a grade perspective that there are 20-25 of those guys out there this year. Now that's just from a grade perspective. I'm not saying 20-25 are going. So, there is depth throughout and there is quality up top. So, I think that's what you're looking for in any class and on paper today in February that's what we see."
On areas he can improve on in his second year as General Manager:
Mayock: "I just think from my perspective just constantly be aware of the big picture. I think coaches and GM's have two different snapshots. I think coaches look at what gets us better on Sunday and I think GM's look at it like how are we going to be better long term. I just think I have to do a better job managing our roster during the season at certain positions. We weren't particularly good at linebacker this year. I think I made some mistakes there. We weren't particularly good at wideout last year. I think I made some mistakes there. So, I just need to do a better job bottom line."
On last year's rookie draft class:
Mayock: "I think the thing Jon and I liked the best about our draft class was from top to bottom, including free agents, they were who we thought they would be. Both as players and people. They were that kind of foundation that people got tired of me talking about last year before the draft. They were foundation kids, they love football. They love ball for what it is, not what it brings them. And to me that's a big distinction."
On the possibility of moving the NFL Combine:
Mayock: "I think the NFL would be crazy to move it from Indy. I mean I've been here close to 20 years now and people forget it's not about Thursday through Sunday night when the players work out. It's about the medical, the psychological. You've got to move 337 kids throughout a city with hospitals and doctors. If you go anywhere else, I don't care where, you're not going to have anywhere near the portability and the convenience of this city. So, outside of the fact it's in February and it's cold here, the NFL might want to move it around and do what they did with the draft. I don't really care about that. I care about the efficiency of the football operation, and I think they'd be crazy to move it."
On the changes in the Combine schedule:
Mayock: "I can't do anything about them, whether I like them or not."
On what he saw in Maxx Crosby that other teams may have missed:
Mayock: "Yeah, I friggin' love Maxx Crosby. What we loved about him on tape is what you see this year which is just a relentless pursuit during every snap. So, we put the tape on at Eastern Michigan and to be really honest he didn't have much of an idea of what he was doing. He didn't know how he was doing it, but I saw this long kid that could bend like gumby. Understand when you're his size the ability to bend is rare. He could bend, he had length, he had effort, he had motor. What was crazy about Maxx last year is...remember I lectured him on getting with Deuce Gruden and working out. I mean from a nutrition perspective and a weightlifting perspective, it's rare to see a kid in college gain 15 pounds his rookie year of good weight. He came in at plus or minus 250 and he was playing at 265 late in the season. That's a huge difference with absolutely no problem with the movement skills. So, he got bigger, he got stronger, he kept the same movement skills and what I love about Maxx is I get texts from him almost every day telling me what he's doing, why he's getting better, how he's getting better. And I think the challenge for our entire rookie class who had some success last year is to take that jump from year one. You hear people talking about rookies, the biggest advancement you should have is from year one to two, right? And now we've got a bunch of guys who had a little taste, a little success. They are going to get game planned; Josh Jacobs, Maxx Crosby, they all are going to get game planned next year. Can they take that next step? And the only way they can do it is work their asses off. That's the bottom line."
On the team's self-evaluation of its roster:
Mayock: "I think every team self-evaluates and if you look at our offense. Again, we were No. 11 in yards and we're a pretty good offensive team. I think everybody standing here knows we need help at wideout and we need to be better. The Antonio Brown thing left a void that we weren't really able to fill so we need to get better there. Defensively, we are not very good at all so I kind of go into the defensive side of it with a mindset of who helps make us better at any position. We have so many needs over there, it's just who's a dynamic football player that makes us better."
On if there is anything about the 49ers rebuild or turnaround that you can take from:
Mayock: "I think they did a great job and I give John [Lynch] and Kyle [Shanahan] a ton of credit. And I would disagree, I don't think it happened overnight. Their quarterback got hurt which artificially set the record back for a year, but what they've been building over several years is a group of talented defensive lineman, a culture. And everybody laughs about that word, I don't. Building a culture is way harder than people pretend it is. It's easy to say and hard to do. That's why I give them so much credit is because they've built a culture on toughness, they run the fricking ball, they believe in getting after the quarterback. I love what they've done, and I give them a ton of credit, but it didn't happen overnight."
On 2020 NFL draft plans that include Bellagio fountains:
Mayock: "I get a little nervous when you start talking about Mekhi Becton in a boat going to the Bellagio. That kind of stuff makes me a little nervous and if you remember any of my work at the NFL Network, I don't really like a lot of the sideshow stuff. So, from where I sit now, I think it's going to be exciting as hell in Las Vegas and I think people are going to love the backdrop to the whole thing. I think the excitement for the city is awesome, but for me and my department it's business as usual and we are probably going to be in Alameda. Probably not going to be set up in Las Vegas yet and we're going to be in our draft room in Alameda."