Oakland Raiders general manager Mike Mayock opened up on his decision to jettison the team's scouting staff before the 2019 NFL draft, telling NBC Sports' Peter King it was the correct move based on leaks that came out following the dismissal.
"They bring me in in January and I inherit a group of scouts for four months. I was 100 percent transparent with them the first week I got here. I told every single scout that they might not like the fact that a media guy's their boss, which they probably didn't. I told them I knew I had to earn their respect, and I would. But they also had to earn my respect and they had four months to do it because all their contracts were up. I made the decision three weeks ago that when the scouts' work was done in this building, I was gonna send most of them home. I told them, and 45 minutes later it was on Twitter. So the decision to send them home, in hindsight, was the right one."
Mayock went on to say he was aware of leaks in Oakland's scouting department dating back to his time as an analyst for the NFL Network. Mayock noted that "bottom line for me, is you've got to trust the guys you work with. To me, if you're a good teammate, what goes on in this building stays in this building."
The Raiders' decision to send their scouts home resulted in widespread confusion in league circles given how most teams rely on their scouting department during the draft period. It was also seen as yet another offbeat move in a series of them since Jon Gruden returned to the team last year.
Gruden has final say over personnel decisions and traded wide receiver Amari Cooper and pass-rusher Khalil Mack. The latter move, in particular, was panned because Mack is one of the best pass-rushers in football, and the decision to part ways was largely financial.
The departure of general manager Reggie McKenzie only further cemented Gruden's power, and more eyes were opened when McKenzie was replaced by Mayock, who has no experience running an NFL front office. Mayock had been NFL Network's draft guru.
Mayock explained to King how critical this year's offseason was for the franchise:
"I came in at an atypical time for a GM, in January, and we had a four-month run that might've been the most important in the history of the Oakland Raiders as far as a draft and free agency. We've been to one playoff game in 16 years. They've been doing things a certain way around here and it hasn't worked."
Gruden and Mayock have a friendship dating back to the former's time as the offensive coordinator for the Philadelphia Eagles. Their relationship grew when Gruden went into the broadcast booth, the coach told King:
"His preparation is no bulls--t. A lot of these guys go on TV and they read the headlines but they don't do the work. You know what I mean? He's well respected because of the amount of preparation he does. And he's a great listener and a great teammate too. I think we both have a strong desire to get this franchise going again."
Mayock and Gruden walked to the beat of their own drum in Thursday's first round, particularly when it came to selecting Clemson defensive end Clelin Ferrell with the fourth overall pick. Most experts pegged Ferrell as a mid-to-late first-round pick who may have been available when the Raiders were on the clock at No. 24.
Michael Gehlkin of the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that Raiders scouts had anticipated a purge for "months" before the draft. It's likely Mayock and Gruden will hire an entirely new crop of scouts, ones of their own choosing, this offseason.