Ahead of Mike Mayock's first draft as a general manager, the Oakland Raiders decision-maker is shrinking his circle of trust.
Mayock and second-year Raiders coach Jon Gruden sent their scouts home for the weekend and do not expect them to return by draft time, sources told NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport on Friday.
Rapoport added that Gruden and Mayock "don't know who to trust" among the scouts and "wanted to clear the room."
According to the Raiders' website, they employ 14 people in their player personnel department, not all of whom are scouts. Raiders director of college scouting Shaun Herock was hired by former Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie in 2012 and served as interim GM when McKenzie unceremoniously left the organization in December.
On its face, this appears an unusual measure taken by the coach and GM, considering their lack of experience drafting together and the high stakes of this draft in Oakland. Some of NFL Network's former personnel execs aren't surprised that the Raiders would pull off this move.
The Raiders own three first-round picks (Nos. 4, 24 and 27) and, saddled with numerous needs, have been rumored to do any and all things with that first selection (trade up, trade down, pick a quarterback, etc.). Oakland also owns the third pick in the second round, giving the Raiders four of the draft's first 35 selections.
In short, Oakland can't afford to screw this draft up.
Mayock was hired by Gruden and the Raiders after the coach pushed out McKenzie in December. A first-year general manager, Mayock previously spent 15 seasons as NFL Network's draft guru.
The GM told reporters last week that Gruden told him ahead of this draft, "Don't mess it up, dude. I took a lot of slings to get you three first-round picks."
By kicking scouts out of Oakland's remaining pre-draft meetings, it appears Gruden and Mayock are trying not to "mess it up" by potentially allowing leaks out of the war room.
The responsibility come draft day will lie with Gruden, Mayock and few others. NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported later Friday that, per sources, other teams have been told points of contact will be Gruden, Mayock, Trey Scott (personnel), Tom Delaney (operations) and Dan Ventrelle (legal).
"The way I look at this thing from a how-do-people-perceive-me perspective is a lot of people doubted that anybody could come out of the media and go and be a GM for any team," Mayock said last week. "I know that. I get that.
"But at the end of the day, here's the deal -- if we win, everything will be fine. And if we lose, I'll get fired. And I'm perfectly fine with that."