Reggie McKenzie's First Ever Draft Pick: Tony Bergstrom
David Wilson – May 6, 2012
The first pick that the Oakland Raiders had in the 2012 draft was a compensatory pick at the end of the third round. With that pick, number 95, they selected Tony Bergstrom from Utah to play left guard. Whatever follows, this will be remembered as Reggie Mckenzie’s first pick, and is worth a closer look.
Did I mention that I predicted this pick in my one and only mock draft?
Yeah, I probably did, a few times (I’m going to get some mileage out of this…).
In all honesty, I didn’t think it was a tough call, for a lot of reasons. The depth behind the starting interior offensive line was no more than a couple of practice squad players, and Cooper Carlisle at left guard is getting on in years. Even at his best, he was never an outstanding player, and I really felt that this was the Raiders main area of need for the 2012 season.
Given that Oakland is moving to the zone blocking scheme, it was clear that Bergstrom would both fit the offense well, and probably be avilable. He played his college football at Utah, which uses a zone blocking system. So already being versed in the blocking scheme the Raiders will use, you know he can do what the team will ask him to do with a minimum of adjustment. It is always a risk when you ask a player to do something he has not done before, and Dennis Allen will have very little risk with Bergstrom here.
Bergstrom will play guard in the silver and black, and although he played right tackle in college, Raiders offensive line coach Steve Wisniewski got a good look at him at the Senior Bowl at the guard position, and was impressed.
He held up well all week against a strong defensive line class, and a solid performance against the best rookies in the nation at the Senior Bowl usually bodes well for a productive pro career.
It was drafting Bergstrom to play guard, not tackle that was important, and that positional switch made a great deal of difference to his draft value.
A number of draft sites had Bergstrom as a tackle, and depending which site you picked he was rated 13th to 17th at the position. They cited his main weakness as a vulnerability to speed rushers on the outside (even though he did not give up a sack in college), a problem he will not have as an interior lineman.
At tackle, he was predicted to be drafted in the late fourth round.
Pro Football Weekly had Bergstrom rated as the premier zone blocking guard available, and gave him a second to third round grade. Pro Football Weekly know their stuff, and have shown year after year that their projections are as good as any out there.
Their assessment projected his best position as a left guard in a zone blocking scheme, exactly where Reggie McKenzie plans to use him.
So McKenzie got value for Bergstrom by picking him up at number 95.
What the first pick of the McKenzie era has shown, is that he drafts value, and he drafts high character players.
What it has also shown is that he understands what makes a successful draft.
When you draft value, high character players, who also fit the system you use at need positions, no one can ask any more of you. There are no guarantees in the draft, but when you look how the most successful teams have operated since the start of free agency, they have done it this way.
Green Bay have done this and consistently have a productive draft class.
Given the picks the Raiders had to work with, I was immensely impressed with the draft class McKenzie put together, as I have been impressed with everything he has done since taking over.
Tony Bergstrom was a great who can contribute right away.
Way to go Reggie.
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