Former Raiders CEO Amy Trask has message for GMs about fully virtual draft, talks Raiders’ Vegas move and more

Amy Trask saw it all during her career with the Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders, spending nearly 30 years with the franchise, including severing as Chief Executive Officer from 1997 to 2013. Trask, the NFL’s first female front office executive who currently is a NFL analyst for CBS Sports Network, shared plenty of stories from her illustrious career in the league.

Trask, a guest on the Pick Six Podcast (subscribe here for daily NFL goodness) with host Will Brinson. Trask is appalled how NFL general managers are concerned on how safe the virtual draft will be, sharing the same message Troy Vincent told CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora earlier in the week. 

“Let me channel my inner Aaron Rodgers and tell everyone who’s been saying ‘Oh no, oh no. The sky is falling’ to relax. R-E-L-A-X,” Trask said. “And I’m not talking to fans, I’m specifically talking to general managers.

“My point being, it’s not that hard. There are people in the world, in this country doing things right now that are really and truly hard. Medical professionals, people keeping our hospitals open, first responders, people providing the services we all need. That’s hard. 

“Having a remote, technological draft is not hard.”

Instead of the virtual draft as a deterrent for 32 NFL teams, Trask sees a huge opportunity for the league to showcase itself as a leader during a time when the country has to adjust its lifestyle and practice social distancing in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. There’s no time to worry about the challenges of a virtual draft. 

“This gives the league a tremendous opportunity to show tremendous leadership for the country,” Trask said. “This shows the country ‘Look, we’re doing this while staying at home, sheltered in place. You need to shelter in place as well.’

“Every single organization has an IT department that is stacked with a number of people. The league has IT people. All of the business partners are there to help. Oh, by the way, if you’re a GM that doesn’t know how to use your Zoom or your Skype and you have a 14-year old kid in your house, let your kid run it.”

As Trask pointed out, the virtual draft and the guidelines in place give general managers and scouts a greater opportunity to rely on actual game tape instead of ridiculous questions to determine the mindset of a prospect. This year, the ridiculous interview questions won’t be needed — making things better for NFL executives. 

“You have all this game footage. So you’re instead going to rely on an interview where the questions are just insane?” Trask said. “A pro personnel guy proudly told me — I mean, he was proud of himself coming back from the combine that he asked a prospect ‘If you were a vegetable, what type of vegetable would you be?’ Now would you rather look at the game tape or what type of vegetable he is? I was speechless. 

“The best part was the guy tells me the answer was tomato. I said, tomato is not a vegetable. The whole thing was just absurd.”

The Raiders hit on plenty of prospects in Trask’s tenure with the team. Even with all the hits, the most notable pick the Raiders selected was JaMarcus Russell at No. 1 overall in 2007. Russell was one of the biggest draft busts in NFL history, as the quarterback played just three seasons and was out of the league at 24. 

“Obviously it did not work out. It was not good for the club,” Trask said. “I do have empathy for JaMarcus. He suffered a catastrophic life issue between Year One and Year Two. I believe it impacted his ability to evolve as a player.” 

Trask is no stranger to the Raiders moving, having been with the organization when the franchise went from Los Angeles back to Oakland in 1995. The Raiders are headed to Las Vegas for the first time, beginning play there this year, which will be a different experience than the last move. 

“I think the team is going to have to get ready for a paradigm shift,” Trask said. “There are going to be a lot of Raiders fans in Las Vegas, no doubt about that. Raiders fans always travel well. There are also going to be a lot of fans of the visiting team. Because if you are a fan of a team that is playing the Raiders on the road and you can only go to one road game a year to root your team on, well yeehaw — you’re going to Vegas. There will be more fans of the visiting team (compared to Oakland).” 

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