We are now a week away from the 2021 NFL Draft in Cleveland, Ohio.
This will be another peculiar draft for not only the Las Vegas Raiders, but the entire NFL coming off a season in a global pandemic. This will be General Manager Mike Mayock's second season drafting players during a pandemic, and things have not seemed to become much easier as time has passed. Mayock has had to be diligent in getting to know players virtually and focus in on Pro Days and the Senior Bowl without a NFL Combine, and he's also has the task of evaluating a few players who hasn't played a game since 2019.
Here are a few of the best quotes from Mike Mayock on where his head is at going into the draft next week.
On the recent changes to the offensive line:
"I'm excited and energized by what our offensive line room is starting to look like, and I'm excited and energized because I think Tom Cable feels the same way. We have all the respect in the world for Rodney [Hudson] and Gabe [Jackson] and Trent [Brown], but at this point, we made a conscious decision to try to get younger, maybe a little bit more athletic..."
Thoughts on the depth of free safety in this draft class:
"I think there's some good players through the first three or four rounds. Then, after that, I think you have to target some guys that might be corners, might be nickels, be a little bit creative. We've grinded this whole defensive back class pretty hard, just like every other position."
Reservations on drafting players that opted-out of the season due to COVID-19:
"Do I think some of them may have used it as an excuse to get out of football and go train? Sure. But at the end of the day it's really hard to figure out which ones, and that's why you have to really just continue to drill down the kid, what his playing demeanor is, what his coaches think about him, all of your different sources. Because it's really a can of worms, and I think every team will look at those opt-outs a little differently."
His philosophy on going after FCS players after the pandemic season:
"Information is king in any draft, and it's gotten harder and harder to collect the appropriate information the last two years. That's it in a nutshell. That's what these last two drafts have been about – collecting the proper information – and there have been different challenges. So, if we feel good about a small-school kid and collecting the information, watching the tape, heck, let's go. Let's roll.
Biggest lesson learned on adequately drafting players:
"I think I have to stick to my gut after all the information is collected, after everything is in. And when you make decisions, you have to take everything into account."
View NFL.com's Bucky Brooks' top five prospects at each major position in the 2021 draft class.