In recent years, there’s no one better at scouting undrafted players better than Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie. While most UFA will fill out camp spots, McKenzie devotes time and effort into using resources to develop players that the league overlooked. As a result, there are a growing group of players that McKenzie signed that 31 other teams missed out on.
Marquette King (2012): While the Raiders already employed veteran kicker Shane Lechler, McKenzie saw something in King. Undrafted out of Fort Valley State, King received the equivalent of a redshirt. That is to say, the Raiders stashed him on injured reserve after signing a three-year contract. In the hope that his hunch paid off, McKenzie allowed Lechler to walk away. Certainly, King’s play confirmed the Raiders’ belief. In 2016, King played in his first Pro Bowl. Be that as it may, fans see King for his celebrations and antics, but forget how talented a punter he is. Everyone forgets about a punter until they need one.
Matt McGloin (2012): Most of RaiderNation owns a conflicted opinion of the long-time backup. In other words, some adored him, while others could not wait until he leaves via free agency. McGloin is what he is, a backup QB. That is to say, he will not win games alone, and he will not make horrendous errors. During his time in Oakland, he served as the consummate backup. Christian Ponder could not unseat him. McGloin’s grit held off challengers to his spot for years. With the ascension of Connor Cook, McGloin’s time in Oakland seems nearing the end. Fans should appreciate a steady backup.
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Jalen Richard (2016): To demonstrate Richard’s determination, you must first understand his path. Coming out of Southern Mississippi, teams ignored him because of his size. Even though at 5-foot-7 and 207 pounds, he outweighs many running backs. At the same time, many seemed unsure of his role. Richard bet on himself. McKenzie watched the undrafted rookie dazzle at training camp. Since Week One, Richard’s play loudly affirmed what McKenzie initially believed all along. Richard is the explosive returner/third-down back that the Raiders needs to pressure defenses.
In reality, some undrafted free agents should’ve heard their names call. In this case, the Raiders capitalize on the mistakes. As mentioned, the contributions of these three along with James Cowser, Denico Autry, and Denver Kirkland help to solidify Reggie McKenzie’s place as a keen evaluator of talent. In 2017, McKenzie and the Raiders will continue to search for overlooked talent.