Assessing the Raiders’ Draft


draft.JPGA day after the Draft and it’s time to look at what the Oakland Raiders did.  It was a draft much like the Al Davis drafts of recent history; filled with workout warriors.  Darren McFadden brings a talent to the running back position that the Raiders haven’t had since Bo Jackson, and although his physical gifts are far above any other player in this draft, the holes in his game kept him from going in the first 3 picks.

A 98-yard kick off return for a touchdown, exactly what the Raiders got him for (Photo Credit: www.uconnhuskies.com)The Raiders 2nd pick ran a 4.31 40 at the NFL Combine, and although he’s very raw, and comes from a sub par football program (UConn), his physical gifts were the reason why the selection of Tyvon Branch was praised by me, and every scout and expert covering the Draft.

The Raiders traded one gifted athlete who runs a 4.3 40, for another.  Fabian Washington was sent to Baltimore for the Raven’s 4th round pick, which the Raiders used to draft Arman Shields.  I was blatantly disappointed with the Raiders 3rd selection, but after 24 hours, I’ve begun to calm down.  After Shields’ poor Combine performance (accept for his 40-yard dash), I didn’t even hold onto the info I gathered on him.  Richmond Spiders (Photo Credit: www.nfldraftscout.com)I made a mistake and reported yesterday that Shields ran just below 4.5 in the 40, but it seems that I found old information on him, and he actually ran a 4.37 40.  I still feel adamant that the Raiders should’ve drafted Lavelle Hawkins instead of the Richmond Spider, but I now understand that for one of the first times in my life, the Raiders needed an influx in speed.  Think about it, they lost Chris Carr and traded Washington.  So the Raiders really needed Branch, but they’ve needed Shields speed on offense for over 2 years (since Carlos Francis, and he sucked).  I might not have completely agreed with the pick, but most analysts did, showing that his talent out weighed a poor Combine and Senior season.

Photo Credit: www.ubathletics.buffalo.eduThe Raiders 4th pick came in the 6th round.  This time the Raiders took Trevor Scott, a beast in the weight room.  Well I guess since they lost Tyler Brayton they though they needed another motivator in the gym.  Brayton loves lifting weights, and like Scott, he knows that he needs all the advantage the weight room can offer, because they know they’re not the most athletically gifted players.  Not many scouts thought this was a bad or good pick, but I just think it’s another typical Raider pick.  The Raiders probably had other players on their Draft board that were gone that they were expecting to be there, and when that’s the case, they usually grab a physical freak.  “He needs to demonstrate on the field the talent that his workout numbers indicate he could be capable of.” – NFL.com

Schilens (Photo Credit: graphics.fansonly.com)The Raiders 5th and final pick was yet another gifted athlete, and not necessarily the best football player available.  I love the size of Chaz Schilens (6’4″ 208lbs), but I’m kind of getting tired of Davis drafting gifted athletes from small football programs that amount to nothing (i.e. Francis-4.3 40, Johnnie Morant-6’4″).  I would’ve rather the Raiders drafted Lance Leggett out of Miami instead of Schilens.  He’s pretty similar in size and speed as Schilens is.  But it’s not because I don’t believe Leggett is more talented, but because he comes from a big program.

Overall I give the Raiders a B+, but that’s mainly because of the McFadden and Branch selections.

Here are the non-drafted free-agents the Raiders signed today.  There were still a couple talented players out there that the Raiders could’ve signed, but instead they mostly grabbed more small school talent.  I know that the non-drafted players get to decide what team they sign with, but still, it would’ve been nice if they picked up Yvenson Benard, Anthony Aldrdige (went to Broncos), or even Leggett.

Derrick Brown, CB, Southern Utah; Malik Jackson, LB, Louisville; Louis Rankin, RB, Washington; Shane Simmons, LB, Western Washington; Adam Spieker, C, Missouri; Chris Wagner, TE, South Dakota.

Note:  The Raiders released Dominic Rhodes on Monday, saving the team an estimated $1.75 million in cap space.  Just enough to bring the Raiders under the salary cap.  How they’re going to sign McFadden and the other draft picks might be a little bit of a problem, but if it means they need to cut Derrick Burgess, Jake Grove or Justin Griffith, then the trading for DeAngelo Hall and holding onto the 4th overall pick weren’t worth it.  This team is barley ready to compete at a high level; I think losing any pieces would destroy their chances at a winning season.  I see LaMont Jordan being cut to save us some more money, and maybe they’ll restructure the contract of Michael Huff, or sign Nnamdi Asomugha to a long term contract, but they can’t let go of anyone else, especially Griffith and Burgess. 

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