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RIDERS NATION

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Following Champ Kelly’s stint as interim general manager for the Raiders, he’s seemingly eased back into the role of assistant general manger without a hiccup.

Tom Telesco was hired as GM in January, bringing along a few football minds from the Los Angeles Chargers including JoJo Wooden who Kelly has gotten to know over the years. What could’ve been an awkward situation for Kelly has seemed to be a grand opportunity for him to keep assisting in building the Raiders roster. His mentality has revolved around taking Telesco and Antonio Piece’s vision for the Raiders and bringing in the necessary pieces to fulfill that.

“When we first got together, he laid out expectations for me and I was transparent with him about how I viewed the team and some of the needs and some of the places that I thought we needed to do to make this team better,” Kelly said of working with Telesco. “I was able to check my ego and put this team first. It’s not about me, it’s really about Raider Nation, the alumni, to try to put our best product forward so that we can win football games for this city and Raider Nation.”

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A factor in the smoothness of the front office transition this offseason is the way Telesco approached the situation. While the new general manager has tinkered with the front office, he’s embraced the Raiders culture that was already established in the building by Pierce and Kelly. This includes putting trust and faith in the scouting department, resulting in a talented 2024 draft class.

“I think it’s a testament to the scouts because the quality of work they had done throughout the fall was so good that he could come in and really get a feel for them and also get a feel for how they viewed the players that were draft eligible,” Kelly said. “I’ve been through multiple systems now and no matter how you turn the verbiage, ultimately all you’re doing is you’re vertically stacking a position group, and then you’re horizontally stacking that position group across the other position groups. It doesn’t matter what system you’re doing, all we are trying to do is find the best players and the best Raiders for us.”

In the process of finding the best fits, the team drafted three national collegiate award winners in Brock Bowers, Jackson Powers-Johnson and Trey Taylor. Kelly also spoke highly of DJ Glaze and Dylan Laube, both players who Raiders brass got a chance to evaluate at the Senior Bowl.

Even with Phase 2 of offseason workouts underway, Kelly has continued diligently working with Telesco to improve the roster, but he’s quick to credit the entire staff that has put in all-out effort.

“I’m just extremely proud of the complete staff, how they work, how we’ve gelled together,” he said. “Identifying a Raiders way, adapting and adjusting at that. Evaluating players and identifying players that are the right players for us. They might not be the right players for the other 31 teams, but they fit us. And our guys have done an excellent job of doing that and I’m proud to work with them and excited to keep working with them.”

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