MOBILE, Ala. -- What's the difference between Reggie McKenzie's Senior Bowl Week experience last year and this time around?
"Night and day," the Raiders general manager told CSNBayArea.com Wednesday with an exhale and a smile. "Night and day. I was hitting the ground running. I had just gotten hired not too long before and I'm looking for my head coach."
Indeed, McKenzie was here with eight scouts in 2012, interviewing and offering the job to Dennis Allen. Now, Allen and his staff are coaching the North squad for the game, getting a true hands-on experience heading into the draft. The Raiders are currently without picks in the second and fifth rounds due to the Carson Palmer and Aaron Curry trades, but have an extra late-round pick, believed to be a seventh-rounder from Carolina due to the Louis Murphy deal.
With the No. 3 overall pick, the Raiders might trade back to pick up another draft pick and should receive at least one compensatory pick after losing free agents Samson Satele, Quentin Groves, Michael Bush and Jason Campbell.
Like in 2012, the Raiders are plugging holes on the coaching staff, with special teams coordinator Bobby April running the special teams show here and new offensive coordinator Greg Olson being more of an observer, for now. Then there was the ESPN report Wednesday that had the Raiders hiring former New York Jets offensive coordinator and Miami Dolphins coach Tony Sparano as the new offensive line and assistant head coach. The Raiders, though, would not confirm the report.
Still, having a staff working together on game week can only be a positive, right?
"Yeah, it really is, especially when you've got a couple of new guys -- you're seeing the special teams coach work and (Olsen) is seeing all of his offensive position guys," McKenzie said. "He's getting a feel, and that's a good feel for him. This is hands-on before our own team gets together. So this is very good for the Raiders organization, to be a part of this."
And from scouting the players?
"From a standpoint of evaluations, I think it's a great situation for us," McKenzie said. "It's always good when you can be hands on and understand and get familiar with personalities, the way people approach practice, the game."