In order to properly evaluate a draft class, one must wait at least three years. When evaluating a franchise, it takes an even broader scope. Therefore, I’d like to review the past decade of Raider drafts before we see Tom Cable off on his first trip to the war room.
When looking back at the last ten years of drafting, you will see a few patterns emerge.
The most glaring and obvious pattern relates to the number of defensive backs drafted. Since 1998, Al Davis has heard the commissioner call the names of six different defensive backs in round one alone.
Charles Woodson (1998, 4th), Derrick Gibson (2001, 28th), Phillip Buchanon (2002, 17th), Nnamdi Asomugha (2003, 31st), Fabien Washington (2005, 23rd) and Michael Huff (2006, 7th) account for nearly half of the last decade’s worth of first round picks. Asomugha and Huff are the only two still currently on the Raider roster. With the exception of Derrick Gibson, the rest of the defensive backs drafted are still in the NFL.
The Raiders have had 14 first round picks over the last 10 years. Of the 14, only 2 have made the year’s end trip to Hawaii to represent the AFC in the Pro Bowl. Surprise! Both are defensive backs: Charles Woodson and Nnamdi Asomugha.
Despite a long list of first round picks that have gone onto mediocre careers at best, the Raiders have been able to find talent in every other round of the draft.
The list of starters, contributors and players that have exceeded their draft status is outstanding: Jon Ritchie (1998, 63rd), Eric Barton (1999, 146th), Roderick Coleman (1999, 153rd), Shane Lechler (2000, 142nd), Ronald Curry (2002, 235th), Justin Fargas (2003, 96th), Jake Grove (2004, 45th), Kirk Morrison (2005, 78th), Thomas Howard (2006, 38th), Johnnie Lee Higgins (2007, 99th), Michael Bush (2007, 100th) and Zach Miller (2007, 38th).
Shane Lechler is the true gem of the past decade. The former Aggie from Texas A&M is, statistically, the NFL’s all-time greatest punter. The Raiders parlayed a 5th round pick into a punter who is a four time Pro Bowler and has led the NFL in punting average four times in his career and only once has finished outside of the top three.
While most saw Sebastian Janikowski’s selection as 17thoverall in 2000 as a mockery of the draft by selecting a kicker in round one, Janikowski has quietly lived up to the hype. Despite the occasional inconsistencies, it is hard to argue against a kicker who has become the all time leading scorer in the history of one of pro football’s most storied franchises. In 2008, Janikowski kicked a franchise best 57-yard field goal to defeat the New York Jets in overtime.
The last two drafts could prove to be the most pivotal if the Raiders are to reverse the last six years of misery. JaMarcus Russell (2007, 1st) and Darren McFadden (2008, 4th) are regarded as the future of the franchise. Russell is coming off his first year as a full-time starter and McFadden showed flashes of brilliance during his injury plagued rookie season.
Of the last 10 draft classes, 2007 is already looking like the cream of the crop. The Raiders had 11 picks in ’07 and used them all wisely as 6 of those picks started games for the Raiders in 2008.
Perhaps the worst draft was the 2001 class. Marques Tuiasosopo, a second round selection, was the only member of the class still on the roster in 2008. Of the rest of the members, 6th round pick Chris Cooper is the only one to have played in more than 70 games in the NFL.
If Tom Cable has done his homework, he’s familiar will all of the above mentioned names. The Raiders have just five picks in ’09 and Cable will need to make each one count as there is long list of roster needs.
Most important of all is to make the first round count. Too many of the past 10 drafts have been littered with first round busts and disappointments. Cable and company need to select an player ready to contribute immediately in ’09.
Tags: Al Davis, Oakland Raiders, Raider Nation, Fans, Popular, Featured Charles Woodson Chris Cooper Darren McFadden Derrick Gibson Eric Barton Fabien Washington Jake Grove JaMarcus Russell Johnnie Lee Higgins Jon Ritchie Justin Fargas Kirk Morrison Marques Tuiasosopo Michael Bush Michael Huff Nnamdi Asomugha Phillip Buchanon Roderick Coleman Ron Curry Sebastian Janikowski Shane Lechler Thomas Howard Tom Cable Zach Miller