Last night, we completed our Fourth Quarter series by spending an hour-plus with Raleigh McKenzie. Not only is Raleigh a good friend, he was a key part of the pro days we set up last spring for members of the ’20 draft class. Oh, by the way, he played 16 NFL seasons and won two Super Bowls in addition to spending six seasons as an area scout with the Raiders.

Here are six things I learned during Raleigh’s session last night.

  • Raleigh was pretty forthright that if his brother hadn’t become a GM with the Raiders, there’s a good chance he never would have been an NFL scout. I thought that was admirable and transparent of him. Also of interest — he said if he’d had his choice, he probably would have preferred to be a coach. I think a lot of scouts might say that, especially in view of the disparity in salaries between the jobs. 
  • As a former offensive linemen, I had lots of questions about the position. Here’s one thing that struck me: When discussing Texans OT Laremy Tunsil, he said Tunsil was aggressive but not always physical. That was a distinction I’ve never heard before. When I asked him about it, Raleigh said Tunsil always came off the ball and got after his opponent while at Ole Miss, but he was more of a finesse player than a mauler. Raleigh liked his athleticism, especially as a pass blocker, but felt he’d have to improve his strength in the running game. I thought that was an interesting insight.
  • When asked what advice he could give aspiring scouts, it was that they must trust their eyes. That’s something that’s come up often during our four-week series. It’s clear that scouts wrestle with groupthink, and don’t always win. As in other professions, it’s often safer to go with the crowd, but it’s not always right.
  • When asked why players bust, Raleigh gave two reasons: an inability to measure a player’s ability vs. NFL competition — i.e., he couldn’t make the necessary adjustments to play vs. the pros — and the inability for his drafting team to use him right. 
  • Though he couldn’t remember exactly who the Raiders’ top 10 prospects were in 2016, Raleigh distinctly remembers how much the team liked Florida State’s Jalen Ramsey. That’s been a real theme as we’ve reviewed 2016 with multiple scouts. Ramsey was a supreme prospect who’s turned out to be a great pro. The team also felt North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz had more tools and upside, Cal’s Jared Goff was a more complete, more ready game for the NFL, and had they chose between the two, they would have taken Goff.
  • He said the Raiders took Michigan State’s Connor Cook as the No. 100 pick in the draft — 35 picks before Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott — because coaches felt Cook was a better fit in Oakland’s offense. The Raiders also felt Prescott was lacking in accuracy. 

It was a fabulous four weeks, as you already know if you were among those who joined us. If you didn’t, it’s not too late to study up and learn from some great former scouts and executives. Click here for the four videos plus the transcripts from our first three sessions with Danton Barto (former Rams area scout), Doug Whaley (former Bills GM) and Ahmad Russell (former Colts scout). Just $35. And don’t forget to register for our Friday Wrap here.