How the Oakland Raiders Can Advance Franchise Rebuild at the Combine

There’s no denying that the Oakland Raiders are rebuilding, and by definition that means to reconstruct out of new materials. Those new materials are college prospects, many of which will participate in the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine that kicks off today in Indianapolis.

The Raiders will be looking for players that can help them accelerate the franchise rebuild, because they can’t afford to waste any of their draft picks—including their first, first-round draft pick since the new regime took over last year. Despite a deck stacked against them, a disappointing 2012 campaign has left second-year general manager Reggie McKenzie and second-year head coach Dennis Allen with very little margin for error.

Although Mark Davis isn’t as reactionary as his father, the expectation is that the team will show progress in Year 2. Considering the Raiders still don’t have a full deck of cards when it comes to salary cap space or draft picks, improvement is far from a given. The Raiders will have to use every tool at their disposal to find the right players—one of those tools is the combine.

The combine consists of three major components: interviews, medical examinations and athletic testing. In the past the Raiders were more concerned with the athletic testing than the interviews, with Al Davis routinely selecting the fastest players tested at the combine. Most of the track stars the Raiders selected in the past failed to make an impact on the football field, to the surprise of very few.

McKenzie’s evaluations will be based more heavily on the game tape of the college prospects and that also means the Raiders will focus more heavily on interviews during the combine process. Just because a team focuses on a different thing doesn’t automatically make them successful.

Many highly successful and skilled college players have failed at the NFL level, including many that we...

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