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Raiders GM Tom Telesco gives hints of team’s offseason approach

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By: Ray Aspuria

Las Vegas Raiders general manager Tom Telesco spent time at the podium fielding questions from the media at the NFL Combine on Tuesday in Indianapolis. | Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

From prospect rankings to scouting approach, Las Vegas appears wide open on draft prep

If Tom Telesco had his way, free agency would come after the NFL Draft. The Las Vegas Raiders general manager is likely not alone in that thought, but he readily admits that notion is a pipedream.

That was but one of the many things Telesco touched upon during both his media availability at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis this past Tuesday and during his time with the team’s in-house media crew for segments on the Raiders official website and YouTube channel. While Telesco isn’t a give-it-all-away type during his media session — he joked he’s the more boring part of the Telesco-Antonio Pierce combination — there were tidbits gleaned from his time in front of a mic and during team segments.

Case in point, Telesco talked about using the draft to build a roster and being selective in free agency to augment that foundation of promising young prospects in his introductory press conference. Fast forward to the annual combine in Indy, and that tone shifted in Telesco’s initial season as Raiders roster decision maker.

“New head coach, new GM we’ll have to use for agency a little bit more to supplement the roster,” Telesco said on the Raiders Podcast Network segment that posted on the team’s YouTube channel on Thursday. “You’re not necessarily going to get a lot of difference makers in free agency because they don’t come to the market.”

Las Vegas Raiders Introduce Antonio Pierce As Head Coach, Tom Telesco As General Manager
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Las Vegas Raiders head coach Antonio Piece, foreground, and general manager Tom Telesco have a lot of work to do this offseason building a roster.

Las Vegas must make decisions on the 17 in-house players slated to hit unrestricted free agency — the biggest being running back Josh Jacobs — and two restricted free agents and three exclusive rights free agents before the market opens on March 13. The options in front of Telesco are numerous such as letting players hit free agency and allowing the market to dictate their value. Or trying to reel the in-house players back in on deals before March 13. And simply allowing them to walk.

Either way, with cap space to make maneuvers, perhaps the Raiders will be movers and shakers as Telesco builds a roster in the image head coach Antonio Pierce and his coaching staff wants it. Both have noted it’ll be a shared experience where discussions and consensus can be made, even though Telesco is the final say on roster decisions.

The GM expects to have a well thought out process when it comes time to make selections draft day, noting there will be discussions that occur way before the Raiders are on the clock.

“No, I’m pretty sure he hired me to do a job. But part of my job is explaining, ‘Hey, this is what we’re doing, this was the thought process behind it.’” Telesco answered when asked if he and Raiders owner Mark Davis have discussed how the selection process will go in the draft room. “Usually those discussions happen way before. I don’t think anything like when the clock’s ticking down behind me and I’m holding a card in my hand and someone says, ‘Hey, I don’t want to do that.’ I’ve got a bigger problem going on. So no, it’ll be a pretty smooth process.”


With Las Vegas earmarked as a quarterback-needy team — considering once the Raiders make the expected move from Jimmy Garoppolo and potentially Brian Hoyer, too, and that’d leave the team with only Aidan O’Connell as a signal caller that’s taken regular-season snaps in the NFL — Telesco was unsurprisingly asked about the prospects at that all-important position available in this draft.

Specifically, he was asked about how he ranks the signal callers. And the answer he gave was not only proper, it gleans into the best player available mantra, too.

“I guess the one thing I’ll say is this, like there’s really no consensus boards at least since I’ve been in the league there isn’t. You’ve got 32 different teams that look at things 32 different ways,” Telesco began. “So our ranking may be different than other rankings, so I don’t know if there’s necessarily a top three and a next two or a next three. I’m not going to go down my list with you now, but I don’t even really have a list at this point right now.

“So, we’ll work through it like we do all the other positions. But there’s just not a consensus of like what the ranking is. It’s going to be a little bit different for everybody, depending on what you’re looking for.”

NFL: MAR 01 Scouting Combine
Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Quarterback prospect like LSU’s Jayden Daniels likely land in different places on the 32 NFL teams draft rankings. One team may have the signal caller higher than another.

Philosophy and scheme do dictate different needs and tastes across the NFL and there isn’t going to be a consensus amongst all 32 teams who is the top-ranked prospect at quarterback.

While this is relegated to the quarterback class specifically, this is likely the same thought-process with all prospects regardless of position group. The 32 teams in the league will have different definition of best player available and the Raiders’ draft board will vary from the “consensus”. So Telesco may indeed take the best player available, but it will be the prospect he, Pierce, other coaches, and scouts deems as the BPA.

Scouting Approach

Throughout Telesco’s career dating back to the Indianapolis Colts and San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers, the personnel man has both the luxury and opportunity to work with and select eventual franchise-type quarterbacks in the draft. From Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck with the Colts to Philip Rivers and Justin Herbert with the Bolts, Telesco was asked a fair question about how much time he spent scouting quarterbacks in college over the last few years.

“I’ll say this, the way we’ve always scouted, we scout every position like our roster is empty. So, just because at the last team we had a quarterback, doesn’t mean I didn’t look at quarterbacks,” Telesco noted.

That approach is a good one for any roster builder to have and should work well for Telesco in Las Vegas. He went on to expand on his approach, namely the unknowns that can hit a team, hence why it’s vital to look at every position group as empty to gain valuable insight on prospects regardless if the team drafts them or not. Intel is intel.

“I mean, we look at everything. You never know what’s going to happen in this league,” Telesco said. “So, I’ve seen most of them, it’s a pretty deep class. The last five or six years, especially skill positions as far as receivers and quarterbacks, they’ve been very deep classes and they’ve been coming in the league and contributing earlier than they used to.”

Originally posted on Silver And Black Pride