TV GM to Raiders GM: Mike Mayock’s transition begins at combine

ALAMEDA, Calif. — Lying awake at night, wondering what Mike Mayock’s philosophy is heading into his first NFL scouting combine as, ahem, a real general manager, as opposed to the TV general manager he played for most of the past two decades?

Sure. But first, a history lesson, of sorts, from the Raiders GM about what the combine really is.

“It’s a crosscheck,” Mayock said last month of the combine, which begins Tuesday in Indianapolis.

“It started because teams wanted to share medical information. That’s why the combine started. It’s turned into the underwear Olympics. But that’s what it was at its base. So, the combine, for me, is another crosscheck in the medical and the character alerts. They’re huge.”

Height, weight, speed? Hand size? No doubt.

Indeed, Mayock said the Raiders would begin “stacking” their draft board two weeks prior to the combine. The team has three first-round picks — four in the first 35 selections — and a glaring need at edge rusher after getting a league-low 13 sacks last season.

The combine, to Mayock and his Mayockisms, is more than just finding “bubble butts” on the lines or “oily hips” among linebackers and cornerbacks or avoiding quarterbacks who “burp the baby” in the pocket. It’s about finding real talent to help with coach Jon Gruden’s rebuild.

“When you’re looking at a team that’s 4-12,” Mayock said, “there are a lot of holes.”

And with the No. 4 overall pick, there should be an elite talent available for Mayock’s first pick as a GM.

Mayock, the longtime NFL Network draft analyst, actually has “skin in the game” this time around.

“A year ago, my job was to give out as much information as I can, and this year it’s quite the opposite,” Mayock laughed.

“I’ve got to train myself a little bit because I’ve got a big friggin’ mouth when I talk football, and I’ve got to watch myself a little bit.”

No Raiders state secrets will be leaked by Mayock as far as what he sees and thinks of prospects. That information — who is a “high-motor guy,” who “gets through the trash” on defense, who is “quicker than fast,” who has “sand in the pants,” who is a “JAG,” and who is a “heavy-legged waist bender” — will be for Gruden, his coaching staff and the scouts to decipher this week at Lucas Oil Stadium.

“He’s one of the hardest-working guys I’ve met in football,” Gruden said of Mayock. “Passionate. Has a real desire, I think, to help us build our team back. I really enjoy it every day. The process has been very exciting. There’s been a lot of dialogue going on, and the collaboration, I think, is off to a really good start.

“He’s going to call a lot of the shots, obviously. We’re going to work hand in hand together. We’re working very hard to see things clearly, and I’m sure there’s going to be some disagreements, but he’s going to have plenty of authority to make the calls that are necessary for the Raiders.”

Mayock, you might remember, said at the college football title game that Gruden would have “final say” on personnel moves, and Mayock has “zero problem” with that, thank you very much.

One of Mayock’s first moves as GM was to institute a system in which coaches and scouts can input their reports on players on the same computer program.

“The best thing we have going for us right now is that the head coach and the general manager are truly on the same page as far as what we’re looking for from football players,” Mayock said.

“We are a completely open and transparent building right now, as far as the coaches and the scouts. And I don’t know what was going on before and I’m not going to comment about anything else. All I’m going to tell you is … the common denominator of dysfunctional football buildings are when the coaches and the scouts don’t have a true relationship that transpires both ways … we’re not breaking ground here. The information is flowing both ways, and that’s what’s got me more juiced than anything.”

Mayock, who said his “core job is to bring more football talent into the building,” admitted to being “overwhelmed” with non-football matters his first few weeks on the job.

He said he would get in the office at 5:30 in the morning and look at his watch at 8 p.m. and realize, “I haven’t watched any tape yet.”

Things have changed of late with the combine on the horizon.

Mayock said he would not be against trading out of the No. 4. spot if the Raiders did not truly “like” the cluster of players available there.

“I care as much about the two seventh-round picks as I do the three first-round picks,” Mayock said.

“This is what I’ve learned from my guys around the league the last 18 years: If you don’t pay as much respect to that seventh-round kid and that free-agent kid as the first-round kid, you’ll never build a team.”

A team presumably filled with “road graders” and “natural benders” and “downhill thumpers” and “dancing bears,” all while wearing Silver and Black.

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