Raiders news: Dave Zielger thinks competition builds depth

Fight and win your job. The result of this is that the eventual starter and backup push each other to the limit and improve each other. This competition creates a very important depth.

It’s the perfect state for Las Vegas Raiders general manager Dave Zielger.

“In terms of what we’re looking for in the draft, free agency, really the whole team. I would say what we’re looking to do is build depth and competition,” the new chief said. Silver & Black staff at a press conference at Combine NFL Wednesday. “I think it’s a very important part of team spirit.

“When you have competition from the top of your list all the way to the bottom of your list and people are being pushed, that’s really the goal. And I think when you build depth in the competition within your team, you will really create groups of positions that have strengths.

Ziegler inherits a team built by his predecessors – former head coach Jon Gruden and former general manager Mike Mayock – that has talent and is not devoid of quality players in key positions. That said, Ziegler’s philosophy and approach is solid throughout his tenure as roster decision-maker: Every position is a position of need. His staff will leave no stone unturned and conduct a thorough sweep of prospects, free agents and the like to bolster a roster that has good penciling talent as starters but lacks quality depth.

The keyword here is: sketched. There’s no escaping the fact that contract, length of service, overall talent and the current lack of better options invite some players to be de facto starters. Players in this category are quarterback Derek Carr, receiver Hunter Renfrow, defensive ends Yannick Ngakoue and Maxx Crosby, kicker Daniel Carlson and punter AJ Cole III, to name a few. But that won’t stop Zielger and his staff from scouting college prospects and veteran free agents to potentially add to the team and compete with established players for starting jobs.

It’s the safest thing to do.

“Getting pushed” wasn’t necessarily a Raiders tradition in recent seasons. As mentioned above, the contract and terms of reference played a significant role as the cap space was tight and the drafting haphazard, which made some established newbies hardly confronted with their status. Of course, this isn’t a Vegas-only phenomenon. All 31 other NFL teams have similar situations. But it’s heartwarming to hear the Raiders’ newest roster builder talk about how deep the competition is building.

Fighting for a starting gig can often forge and strengthen a player’s determination and desire to play and can make those around them better. And those who don’t have the feisty nature to compete will make Ziegler’s decision to eliminate them from the Raiders roster that much simpler.

To help Ziegler accomplish the task of depth being built through competition is his new right assistant general manager Champ Kelly. The duo will partner with head coach Josh McDaniels to put together a roster that will put Vegas’ new El Capitan in the best possible position for success. Zielger explained why Kelly was a staple for him at the combine last week.

“Champ just embodies a lot of things that are important to me. Very high attention to detail, has a very high standard for all the work done, big or small,” Ziegler said. “He’s really smart just in terms of football, overall thinking. I know he is a good evaluator. We have a level of trust and respect for each other. The asset he has been for us so far has been huge.

“It was a no-brainer for me. Even thinking before I ever had this opportunity, if this opportunity arose, Champ Kelly was still someone who would – hopefully – be able to take this journey with us. .

Kelly’s previous position was Assistant Director of Player Personnel for the chicago bears where he helped shape the NFC North team. And now he’s bringing his expertise to the Vegas wasteland alongside Zielger as the assistant general manager of a Raiders team that winds up in what’s shaping up to be competitive AFC West.

Time will tell how the duo will do in building the roster through the draft and free agency, but for free agents in particular, Zielger is going to bank on team history — as well as dollar amount. contract offers, of course.

“The history of Raider football is exciting. It’s a historic franchise, I think that’s an appealing thing,” Ziegler said. a nice facility, we have a new stadium. There are a lot of things we have in place in terms of facilities that enable football players to maximize their potential.

“Players want to be at their best and when you can offer players a chance to do that… it will be an exciting thing for players to go somewhere where they can maximize their abilities.”

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