The Oakland Raiders spent much of their offseason rebuilding their defense, and they got yet another weapon in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft when they selected safety Karl Joseph.
The first day of the draft saw four trades in the top 10, and a potential top 10 pick fall outside of the top 10 after a tweet of Laremy Tunsil smoking marijuana surfaced just before the draft began. Tunsil fell all the way to 13, the pick right before the Raiders, but McKenzie says he never flinched and remained focused on Joseph the whole time.
"We were scrambling to make sure we had the right number for Karl Joseph," McKenzie said after making the pick when asked if they were adjusting in the war room.
UCLA linebacker Myles Jack was also considered an option by many experts, though McKenzie wouldn't go into detail on whether or not he was considered.
"I’m not going to get into guys who we considered," McKenzie said. "One guy I know who we considered was Karl Joseph and we got him."
Instead, the Raiders general manager was focused on the guy they wanted form day one.
"Picking 14, it’s hard to decide who’s going to be there - let me tell you one thing - we love Karl Joseph from day one," McKenzie said. "So we were happy to get him at 14."
Head coach Jack Del Rio has previously selected a defensive back in the first round one previous time, taking current Raiders safety Reggie Nelson when both were with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Now, Del Rio has another versatile safety to play and learn from Nelson in Oakland.
"He’s very versatile," Del Rio said about the pick. "He’s a guy that does a great job taking angle and is very effective. We just think that he’s a really good football player and has an infectious personality and demeanor about him."
Del Rio and McKenzie both like Joseph's hitting ability, but his new head coach doesn't want to sell his other abilities short.
"I wouldn’t take anything away from his ball-hawking ability, and his ball skills... he’s a playmaker," Del Rio said.
The 22-year-old safety also has a reputation of being a leader on and off the field, taking control of the defense and his teammates around him -- something that stood out to the Raiders on tape.
"Watching the tape you can feel his passion," McKenzie said. "You can feel his intensity the way he plays, you can feel his toughness."
Many teams may have had concerns about Joseph's knee after tearing his ACL in week four of his senior year, but the Raiders were not concerned saying that the doctors "gave two thumbs up".