After reports surfaced on Friday morning indicating that possible friction in the Raiders’ front office could lead to a big shake-up, a person with knowledge of the club’s thinking termed the speculation a “bunch of BS.”
The report came via Tony Pauline of Pro Football Network and said: “Word in league circles is a major shake-up in the Las Vegas Raiders’ front office will be coming soon after the draft and significant heads are expected to roll.”
The report suggested the Raiders’ selection of Alex Leatherwood with the 17th pick in the first round may have been the “final straw” in a series of recent draft picks that many pundits have deemed as reaches.
General manager Mike Mayock’s working relationship with coach Jon Gruden was examined in a story in the Review-Journal last Sunday, with indications that tension might exist between the two. Mayock is one of only seven general managers in the NFL who are generally acknowledged to report to the head coach.
But there is no indication that the Leatherwood pick was the result of anything but a collaboration between the two.
Mayock said after Thursday’s first round that Raiders decision-makers knew the selection of Leatherwood would be “controversial.”
“When we made the pick, we had the TVs on and obviously, I forget which group it was, but they were saying they could have had him in the second round and blah blah blah,” Mayock said. “I understand that. The fan base is going to listen to that, and the fan base is going to question it.”
But the Leatherwood pick being some sort of tipping point contradicts Mayock’s characterization of the staff-wide support for the selection, led by offensive line coach Tom Cable, who was an early advocate of Leatherwood.
“This might have been Tom’s favorite player in this entire class,” Mayock said. “I mean, Coach Cable has been all over him for months now since the first time he saw the tape. (Jon) Gruden loved this guy. Our scouts loved this guy.
“What I like is when the second floor in our building, which is all the coaches, and the third floor, which is all the scouts, when we’re united on a conversation like Leatherwood that makes me feel really good about the pick.”
Mayock’s description of the process that led the Raiders to Leatherwood certainly doesn’t suggest anyone went rogue with this pick. Even behind the scenes, the sense is the Raiders are excited about the addition of the Alabama All-American.