After back-to-back 4-12 seasons, Oakland Raiders General Manager Reggie McKenzie said ahead of the 2014 NFL Draft that he wanted “to hit on every one of these picks.”
McKenzie hit the jackpot.
In the second round, McKenzie couldn’t pass up Fresno State’s Derek Carr and with the 36th overall pick wound up with a franchise quarterback.
As for the rest of that draft?
Offensive lineman Gabe Jackson was taken in the third (81st overall), defensive tackle Justin Ellis (107) and defensive back Keith McGill (116) in the fourth and defensive back TJ Carrie (219) in the seventh.
Only seventh-rounders Shelby Harris and Jonathan Dowling are no longer with the Raiders.
It would take two more years of growing pains – the Raiders went 3-13 in 2014 and 7-9 in 2015 – but Oakland made the big jump this past season, finishing 12-4 and reaching the postseason for the first time since 2002.
Mack recalls that during a gathering of rookies that “Derek was the one that looked at all of us and said we had to change the culture.”
Carr said he had put it in God’s hands and when Hall of Famer Willie Brown called out his name at the draft, the entire Carr family felt ecstatic at their Bakersfield home.
Even if he did have to wait till the second round.
“I think my brother actually said it,” Carr said. “Someone interviewed him as I was getting ready for the draft and he said, ‘To be honest, does Derek want to be a first-round pick? You better believe he does. But if it doesn’t work out that way and maybe he’s a second-round pick and they’re able to get a better player before, I think that he’d be good with his team getting better.’
“It worked out that way. You could ask all the other quarterbacks, I’m sure they’d want Khalil on their team, too. I’m glad it worked out the way that it did.”
McKenzie has continued to add pieces in subequent drafts and through free agency, including center Rodney Hudson in 2015.
“That was a very good draft,” Hudson said. “Those guys are so important to our team and play really well, prepare well, and they’re great examples for younger guys. When your better players are the hardest workers, it makes the environment a whole lot better.”
The Raiders head into the 2017 NFL Draft with eight picks, including the 24th pick in the first round.
Raiders’ 2017 NFL Draft picks
As of April 25, Oakland had eight selections in the 2017 NFL Draft:
No. within round
* via Seattle
The Raiders began a dramatic turnaround in fortunes with their 2014 draft, which netted future superstars on defense and offense in Khalil Mack and Derek Carr.
Round 1, Pick 5 (5)
Round 2, Pick 4 (36)
Round 3, Pick 17 (81) (From Dolphins)
Round 4, Pick 7 (107)
Round 4, Pick 16 (116) (From Dolphins)
Round 7, Pick 4 (219)
Round 7, Pick 20 (235) (From Cardinals)
Round 7, Pick 32 (247) (From Seahawks)