Gruden Finds Right Fit in New Right Hand Man Mayock

Hayden Nadolny
mike mayock oakland raiders

After another disappointing season on the field, the Raiders wasted no time making a big splash in the hiring of their new general manager. In doing so, the ship appears headed in the right direction under Mike Mayock.

You can accuse Jon Gruden of many things but being tentative isn’t one of them.

Just a few days after his Raiders finished the season a disappointing 4-12 on the field, Gruden filled the team’s vacant general manager position with one of the best in the talent evaluation business – Mike Mayock.

Mayock consistently said that for him to be enticed out of his cushy job as a draft analyst at NFL Network, it would have to be the right fit – the right fit for him, his family and the team. NFL teams have tried to get Mayock into their front offices for years, though he has resisted due to the circumstances at the time.

He emphasized in Monday’s press conference that the fit with the Raiders is indeed the right one and that’s why he has taken the job. On the surface, it might seem perplexing to some that a draft analyst with no formal experience within in an NFL team’s front office should get the highest front office position. The Raiders were not after someone to overhaul their entire front office system. Gruden is the leader of the franchise so the dynamics and responsibilities for any GM working with Gruden are no doubt different than the roles of others around the league.

No one is going to match Gruden’s hurricane-like approach. In Mayock, the Raiders have someone who is going to come very close to matching Gruden’s tempo.

In his ever-expanding role with the Raiders, Gruden needed someone he could trust on talent evaluation and specifically with the draft. The Raiders have five first-round picks in the next two years and are banking on that to fast track their rebuild. More importantly, Gruden needed to be compatible with a working standpoint with the new GM. It is no secret that Gruden quickly grew frustrated with Reggie McKenzie’s overly slow and pragmatic approach to front office workings. It was a stark contrast to Gruden’s maniacal and direct approach in Raiders HQ. It led to friction and was one of the facets which played a part in McKenzie’s dismissal.

No one is going to match Gruden’s hurricane-like approach. In Mayock, the Raiders have someone who is going to come very close to matching Gruden’s tempo.

Mike Mayock Jon Gruden Oakland Raiders

Mayock and Gruden appear to have the makeup of a good team for the Raiders.

Where Mayock lacks practical experience is in his knowledge of the everyday machinations that occur within an NFL organization. Being a GM is so much more than drafting players. It is going to involve pro-personnel evaluation, contract negotiations, the world of free agency, and leading and managing a large group of individuals ensuring everyone is focused on getting the best results for the Raiders. Mayock himself acknowledged that he lacks experience in those areas, and thus it will be necessary to provide the requisite support network around Mayock to get him up to speed.

The lack of experience may have been seen as a positive from the Raiders perspective, in that it further cements the hierarchical order of the organization while allowing Gruden to mould the GM to their pattern and way of operating. This is only a positive if Mayock is still able to voice his opinion and have a significant portion of Gruden’s ear in decision-making. If he is just another “yes” man under Gruden, this hire will have resulted in a waste of time for all involved.

Despite Mayock’s lack of front office experience, he has very much been in direct contact with the league and its personnel over multiple decades. Mayock’s relationship with Gruden goes back to 1995 when Gruden was the offensive coordinator in Philadelphia, while he has known defensive coordinator Paul Guenther for over 20 years, and special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia for 30 years.

This should allow the Raiders to hit the off-season running. Mayock knows what the coaches are trying to achieve schematically, it’s now going to be up to him to evaluate and acquire the requisite talent to allow the coaches to achieve wins on Sundays.

That, above everything, is what matters most.

Gruden wanted his “guy” running the football operations. Now, he has that in Mayock. It appears to be the right fit for both Mayock and Gruden.