CSN’s Scott Bair hosted a chat, yesterday, in which he discussed the Raiders’ off-season plans and answered fans’ questions.
Most of the chat were simply Bair’s opinions on the best free agent or draft options for Oakland (you can read the entire transcript here) but there was one bit of information that Bair dropped that hadn’t been released, before:
Menelik Watson had a very up and down first season, struggling to play at all during training camp and into the season with a variety of injuries but when he did play, he looked like a very physical player at offensive tackle. The fact that coaching staff members are expressing worry to Bair may or may not mean much.
Having been a leader myself, in both a professional and sports setting, expressing concern is a natural reaction to an unknown. There is a difference in saying that someone “does not have it” versus that they “might not have it.”
The fact is, it’s simply too early to write off Watson, who may have just had his rookie season derailed by an injury from which he wasn’t able to come back.
But coaches talking down about him to a member of the media is a concern no matter what and it provides more fodder for GM Reggie McKenzie’s critics.
Through two drafts (more like one and a half, since 2012’s draft was missing so many players at the front of the draft), McKenzie has not found a true impact player as of yet. His first round selection from last year, CB DJ Hayden, struggled to recover from a major heart/chest surgery from an injury he sustained in college and was only a rotational player for most of the season.
McKenzie’s first pick in 2012, 3rd round selection Tony Bergstrom, missed the entire season recovering from a surgical procedure that took place late in the offseason.
Miles Burris, the promising LB taken in the fourth round of the 2014 Draft, also missed most of the season due to injury.
And, as mentioned, Watson, McKenzie’s second-round selection, missed a large amount of time throughout the season with injuries, as well.
The only impact player in 2013 that came from McKenzie’s drafts was rookie Sio Moore, who was solid if not spectacular as an outside linebacker.
McKenzie and his hand-picked coach Dennis Allen both face a stiff contest next year with the “toughest schedule” based on this year’s results. The 2014 Draft is a must-win for the duo if they want to return to Oakland for a fourth season.
Too early to worry about Watson - not too early to worry about McKenzie and Allen. The bigger point in this piece is this Reggime has not been very good at evaluating talent. They're doing what everyone accused Al Davis of doing - making risky picks. The only difference is Al's risky picks often paid off.