How far will the Raiders reach in the draft?

If Al Davis were a superhero, he’d be Reed Richards (aka Mr. Fantastic). Like Richards, Davis has the ability to stretch himself thin. Of course Richards literally stretches his body to the width of JaMarcus Russell’s playbook. Davis just spreads himself thin by running everything in the organization from the front office on down to the concession stands.

When you go to the tale of the tape however, Davis might have a reach equal to that of Mr. Fantastic. When it comes to the NFL draft, nobody reaches like Al Davis.

Call it a crap shoot. Consider it a roll of the dice or even a chance on the roulette wheel. The NFL draft is a slot machine sitting in a terminal at McCarran Airport just waiting for the next bored degenerate to give the bandit’s arm a pull.

Al Davis is to mock drafts what Butler University was to tournament brackets this year.

Back in 2000, Mr. Davis dropped an anvil on the head of Mel Kiper by taking Sebastian Janikowski 17th overall. While the pick was lampooned by many, all Seabass has gone on to do is become the all-time leading scorer in franchise history. His lethal leg has become the stuff of NFL lore despite some of his other antics that could have overshadowed what has been a remarkable (and lucrative) career. It should also be noted that while Davis reached for Jano, he landed a sure thing by grabbing Shane Lecher in the 5th round that same draft. Quite possibly the greatest special teams draft any team has ever had.

In ’03 Davis was up to his antics again, this time by selecting a safety from UC Berkeley and later turning him into a premier shutdown corner. Reaching for Nnamdi Asomugha might have seemed like a moment of madness but it has revealed itself to be the last stoke of genius Al Davis has endured in the first round of the draft.

Since 2003, the first round has been a house of horrors.

Robert Gallery was supposed to be the safest bet in the ’04 draft. This would mark the last time Davis ever agreed with Mel Kiper. Gallery has become a dominant guard but it is a far cry from the franchise left tackle he was expected to be as the second overall pick. This would also be the last time Davis actually made an effort to shore up his offensive line by drafting a tackle in round one and then picking a center, Jake Grove, in round two.

From here out Davis became infatuated with his toys.

2005 was the year that Davis rekindled his love of the stopwatch. Fabien Washington sprinted into the first round on the strength of a blazing 40 time. In the second round, Davis decided to double his pleasure by picking Stanford Routt, yet another fast corner with good size. Washington was later traded to make room for DeAngelo Hall. Hall lasted only eight weeks of a seven year contract while Washington went on to become a starting corner on one of the NFL’s best defenses.

If reaching with the number one overall pick is possible, Al Davis will accomplish it.

JaMarcus Russell was anything but a sure bet so naturally Davis had to roll the dice. So far he’s been staring into snake eyes. Same goes for the 2009 draft when Davis redefined reaching by grabbing a mid to late first round prospect 7th overall in Maryland wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey. Then for good measure Davis brought ESPN’s draft coverage to a screeching halt by grabbing Ohio safety Michael Mitchell in the second round some three to four rounds ahead of where many projected he’d land.

This brings us to 2010 and the daunting task of predicting what Davis will do on draft night this Thursday.

Many are already doing their best Davis by pushing yet another Maryland Terrapin into the top 10, this time it’s an offensive tackle. Bruce Campbell is the most logically illogical prospect many have on Al’s radar.

Nothing is a safe bet in the draft. Kiper and McShay have as good a guess as anybody but that’s all they have is a guess. Predicting who will live up to the hype is improbable. Predicting who Al Davis will draft is impossible.  

One thing is for sure. When Al Davis is on the clock, the football world holds its collective breath. Hope Mr. Davis is nice and limber on Thursday night, wouldn’t want him to strain anything as he reaches for his next millionaire.

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