Armando Salguero

Rating Reggie McKenzie’s Oakland drafts a preview of what he can bring to Miami Dolphins

Reggie McKenzie’s addition to the Miami Dolphins personnel department as a senior personnel executive over the weekend was met with resounding approval around the NFL.

And what’s not to like?

McKenzie, 56, comes with seven seasons of experience as the Oakland Raiders’ general manager and before that he was part of the Green Bay Packers front office that helped to re-establish that franchise among the NFL’s elite.

McKenzie will not be working out of the Dolphins headquarters in Davie fulltime. It’s not even likely he’ll be moving to the area.

But his advice and eye for talent might be useful as the Dolphins move forward in the rebuilding of the franchise.

The problem with this?

Well, McKenzie’s record in Oakland was inconsistent.

He took over a franchise that was off course and seven seasons later, the Raiders were still lost.

In McKenzie’s seven seasons, the Raiders managed only one winning season — that in 2016 when the team was 12-4.

The other six seasons?

4-12.

4-12.

3-13.

7-9.

6-10.

4-12.

McKenzie hired two head coaches — Dennis Allen and Jack Del Rio — during his tenure. Both were fired.

And his drafts?

He had a very good one in 2014. But the others ranged from uninspiring to bad.

About that great draft in ‘14: McKenzie picked linebacker Khalil Mack with the No. 5 overall selection. And that pick was outstanding. Mack has already been an NFL Defensive Player of the Year and is on a Hall of Fame caliber career path.

Second-round pick Derek Carr looked like a great pick after two years, but he’s struggled since and it’s uncertain what new coach Jon Gruden will ultimately do with him — although Gruden has said Carr is the Raiders QB.

Third-round selection Gabe Jackson has been a starting interior lineman since Day 1. And, yes, the Dolphins could use one or two of those the next couple of years.

And the rest of that draft included some rotational help on the defensive line and a solid-but-not-great nickel back.

So pretty good.

The problem is one pretty good draft out of seven is not a good record.

McKenzie’s draft in 2012 was something you can throw out as the team didn’t have a first- or second-round pick and none of the six players taken became fulltimes starters.

The 2013 draft included first-round bust D.J. Hayden and often-injured and inconsistent right tackle Menelik Watson in the second round. That second-round pick, by the way, originally belonged to the Miami Dolphins.

But the Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland served up the No. 42 overall pick in the 2013 draft to McKenzie in order to rise from the No. 12 overall selection in the first round to No. 3 overall.

Yeah, the trade that hurt everyone involved because the Dolphins used the No. 3 pick on Dion Jordan while the Raiders got basically nothing of lasting value from the No. 12 and No. 42 pick.

Oh, yeah, and the Raiders were resoundingly criticized by selling the No. 3 overall spot too cheaply.

Perhaps the lone redeeming quality of the McKenzie’s 2013 draft was that running back Latavius Murray was picked with the 181st overall pick. Murray left Oakland after his rookie contract expired.

It was, ironically, McKenzie who picked wide receiver Brice Butler with the 209th overall selection in 2013. Butler remained on the team a couple of seasons, went on to Dallas for three seasons and landed with the Dolphins last season.

The 2015 draft netted receiver Amari Cooper and you’re thinking he’s a pretty good player because he is. Well, yeah, the No. 4 overall selection in the draft usually is pretty good. The rest of that year’s draft for the Raiders?

Second-round pick Mario Edwards has been injured a lot. Third-round pick Clive Walford was a bust. Fourth-round pick Jon Feliciano is a backup offensive lineman. And the other six players selected are non-factors or out of football altogether.

By the way, the Raiders traded Cooper to the Dallas Cowboys last season and the receiver responded by playing well the final couple of months of the season.

McKenzie’s draft in 2016? If first-round pick Karl Joseph, who finally delivered a solid season in 2018, can improve and stay healthy, that draft will avoid being a total failure.

Because second-round pick Jihad Ward is a bust and third-round pick Shilique Calhoun is just a guy, having collected half-a-sack in 26 games of backup duty. I’d tell you about the other guys in that draft but the sentence would be too depressing for this uplifting space.

McKenzie’s 2017 draft rests primarily on whether cornerback Gareon Conley, the team’s first-round pick, can become a solid contributor. Pro Football Focus graded him the No. 68 cornerback in the NFL last season.

Everyone else in that draft has been injured, cut, or mostly a backup.

Hey, folks, there’s a reason the Raiders have been bad and McKenzie got fired.

It’s probably too early to judge the 2018 draft but first-round pick Kolton Miller was a surprise first-round pick and played well in starting 16 games as a rookie. Second-round pick P.J. Hall, third-rounder Brandon Barber and fourth-rounder Arden Key all played as rookies.

The star of the 2018 Oakland draft class was Maurice Hurst, who was drafted in the fifth round after teams passed on him because tests discovered a heart issue before last year’s draft.

Hurst had a good rookie season and, assuming he continues playing, might be the best value selection of any McKenzie made during his time in Oakland.

So great work? No.

Respectable? Maybe.

The advantage for the Dolphins is having another fresh set of eyes and a man with vast NFL connections in the personnel game helping the cause for the upcoming draft.

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Armando Salguero has covered the Miami Dolphins and the NFL since 1990, so longer than many players on the current roster have been alive and since many coaches on the team were in middle school. He was a 2016 APSE Top 3 columnist nationwide. He is one of 48 Pro Football Hall of Fame voters. He is an Associated Press All-Pro and awards voter. He’s covered Dolphins games in London, Berlin, Mexico City and Tokyo. He has covered 25 Super Bowls, the NBA Finals, and the Olympics.
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