It’s déjà vu all over again for the Oakland Raiders.
March Madness is not isolated to the dreams of adolescent basketball players on hardwood courts across the United States this time of year. There is also a Madness that causes nightmares for countless owners, general managers and coaches in the profession of football.
The 2009 NFL draft is a stress filled conundrum that, with each passing day, poses more questions than answers.
Consider the fact that the Detroit Lions franchise, fresh off a 0-16 campaign, is in the market for dealing their number one pick. That is not exactly what one would call “consumer confidence” in the prospects that litter the 2009 edition of the NFL’s version of a casino – better known as the draft.
The message is clear for teams drafting in 2009: BUYER BEWARE.
For Oakland, sitting at number 7, the draft is even more of a gamble. The history of the Raiders and their relationship with the number 7 overall pick is contentious at best. There are but two entries in the Raider journal with regards to the number 7 pick. Both have been plagued with unfulfilled promise.
Just three years ago, the Raiders were in the market for a safety and turned to the University of Texas to fill the job opening. A man affectionately known in Austin as “Huff Daddy” was the Raiders choice with the number 7 overall pick in the 2006 draft. After two and a half seasons of missed tackles and bad field positioning that resulted in just one interception and one sack, Michael Huff was benched and his Raider days appear to be numbered.
Before 2006, you would have to go all the way back to 1964 when the Oakland Raiders picked seventh. The Raiders selected a Los Angeles native who played running back by the name of Tony Lorick with the number 7 overall pick in the AFL draft. The former Arizona State Sun Devil would play six years of professional football, not once did he ever don Silver and Black.
Lorick was also selected by the Baltimore Colts in the second round of the 1964 NFL draft. Given the choice, he opted to play for head coach Don Shula in Baltimore where he teamed with backfield mate Lenny Moore and quarterback Johnny Unitas to win the NFL championship as a rookie.
The issues at number 7 are not isolated to the Raider franchise. In recent years that same pick has been either a boom or a bust with names like Troy Williamson, Ike Hilliard, and Andre Ware all being the latter, while Adrian Peterson, Champ Bailey and Sterling Sharpe have all disproved the bad luck of number 7.
Once again, fate has brought the Raiders back to the number 7. This time around, the hope is that the third time will be a charm.
There are plenty of names floating around that most Raider fans have made an argument for.
The Raiders are in need of a playmaker out wide and some covet the big play ability of Texas Tech receiver Michael Crabtree. Others are attracted to the speed of Missouri return specialist Jeremy Maclin.
But what good does it do to have a standout receiver if JaMarcus Russell has no time to survey the field? Some Raider fans have argued for Baylor left tackle Jason Smith. Some see Virginia’s Eugene Monore as the true franchise caliber tackle. While some choose to ignore the recent warning signs thrown up by Alabama big man Andre Smith and feel he is the one.
Still, there are other voids to be filled.
The run defense is in shambles. Boston College defensive tackle B.J. Raji looks like the best defensive lineman in the draft. However, others would argue for the Raiders to select a Texas Longhorn at number 7 again. Brian Orakpo is a versatile athlete who just might become a better outside linebacker than a defensive end in the NFL. Either way, both OLB and DE are positions in need of help.
No matter the argument, all names involved are a gamble. Success in the NFL is as much related to “right place, right time” as it is to talent. Who knows what the number 7 pick will bring to Oakland in 2009.
Here is a thought. What happens if Detroit doesn’t select Georgia QB Matthew Stafford? What if Jason Smith is first to go, followed by Eugene Monroe? Next Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry is selected and then Crabtree, Raji and Orakpo come off the board.
Then what? Who do the Raiders select at number 7? Many scenarios have the Raiders selecting one of the aforementioned names. What happens if all those names are gone?
Who is the pick?
Maclin? Andre Smith? Michael Oher? Aaron Maybin? Tyson Jackson? Malcolm Jenkins?
Tom Cable has intimated that he and Al Davis have a very precise plan for the number 7 pick. What is that plan? We’ll just have to wait another 26 days to find out.
Tags: Aaron Curry Aaron Maybin Adrian Peterson Al Davis, Oakland Raiders, Raider Nation, Fans, Popular, Featured Andre Smith Andre Ware B.J. Raji Brian Orakpo Bryant McKinnie Champ Bailey Don Shula Eugene Monroe Ike Hilliard JaMarcus Russell Jason Smith Jeremy Maclin Johnny Unitas Lenny Moore Malcolm Jenkins Matthew Stafford Michael Crabtree Michael Huff Michael Oher Sterling Sharpe Tom Cable Tony Lorick Troy Williamson Tyson Jackson