Evaluating a draft class before any of its members has suited up on Sunday is as pointless as trading for Tim Tebow. But that is neither here nor there.
After the dust settled, most pundits gave the Raiders high grades for their 2010 draft class. It is far too early for Al Davis to take a victory lap on this one. While Davis did make some sound selections that are aimed at addressing team needs, there is still much work to be done before this class can be considered a success.
Rolando McClain, MLB, Alabama (Round 1, Pick 8 ) – A year ago the Darrius Heyward-Bey selection stunned the football world. This time around the football universe was again in shock this time due to the common sense approach taken in drafting McClain. Rolando lead the best defense in the NCAA to a BCS title while making a name for himself as a run stuffing linebacker en route to being an All-American and Butkus Award winner. McClain is young but expectations are high. After drafting Rolando, the Raiders moved long time starter and hometown hero Kirk Morrison to make room for their top pick. Unlike DHB, McClain will be expected to contribute immediately. You can read the book on McClain here.
Lamarr Houston, DT, Texas (Round 2, Pick 44) – Improving the run defense was a clear cut priority for the Raiders. The Raiders actually moved down in round two and began acquiring more picks by trading with both the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the obligatory dealings with the hated New England Patriots. Houston is a Bay Area native who should add more versatility to the defensive line. At 6’3” and 305-pounds, Lamarr has good size and the ability to play both the tackle and end positions. A pure athlete, Houston played running back in high school, ran a 4.85 40-yard dash and recorded a 33” vertical leap at the NFL combine. Houston will also be expected to contribute immediately as the Raiders have many questions along the defensive line.
Jared Veldheer, OT, Hillsdale (Round 3, Pick 69) – Al Davis did work in the trenches in 2010. After making two picks to shore up the defense, the attention shifted to rebuilding the offensive line. Veldheer was labeled as the sleeper of the draft. Playing DII ball at small Hillsdale College in Michigan kept Veldheer off of the national radar but not out of the site of many a pro scout. His size and athleticism are ideal for Tom Cable’s zone blocking scheme. Now begins the process of Jared making the transition from small school college ball to the ranks of the pros.
Bruce Campbell, OT, Maryland (Round 4, Pick 106) – There was no doubt that Campbell was the apple of Al’s eye. What was in question was how far Davis would reach to land the workout warrior of the draft. To Al’s credit he stayed patient and landed Campbell at fair value in the 4th round. Bruce is an imposing figure with amazing athletic skill. He is very raw and needs much work before his contributions will come to fruition. Many (including myself) thought there was a good chance he’d be a Raider, I just assumed Mr. Davis would go Mr. Fantastic and reach for Campbell at 8th overall.
Jacoby Ford, WR, Clemson (Round 4, Pick 108) – If the first three rounds were not your typical Raider picks, then round four was everything you’d expect of a Raider draft. Ford has elite speed and recorded the fastest 40 time at the combine covering the distance in 4.28-seconds. While he has some development to undergo before seeing much time in the passing game, Ford should help to improve the return game that disappeared in the abyss of the East Bay in ’09. The former track star is a Johnnie Lee Higgins clone that could push JLH out of the return game. The Raiders gained this pick from the Jacksonville Jaguars in exchange for Morrison.
Walter McFadden, CB, Auburn (Round 5, Pick 138) – It took two days of drafting but the Raiders finally began to regress to their ideology of athleticism and speed. In need of adding a new corner, the Silver and Black tapped McFadden to compete for time in a crowded defensive backfield. Despite not receiving an invite to the combine, Walter was a highly touted prospect who possesses plenty of potential at the next level.
Travis Goethel, LB, Arizona State (Round 6, Pick 190) – Another value pick, Goethel is capable of playing both inside and outside linebacker and turned heads with his improved workout on ASU’s pro day. After lumbering through the 40 at the combine, Travis sprinted to a 4.58-40 yard dash at his pro day, helping to prove he is an athlete capable of competing at the next level. His best bet to contribute immediately is on special teams.
Jeremy Ware, CB, Michigan State (Round 7, Pick 215) – Ware is another Al special. His 4.37 40-yard dash at the MSU pro day put him on Oakland’s radar. Originally a Steve Suprrier recruit at South Carolina, the Florida native transferred to Michigan State where he became known as a hard hitter with elite speed. He’s in for some fierce competition to make the 53-man roster with all the talent the Raiders have at corner.
Stevie Brown, S, Michigan (Round 7, Pick 251) – Just for good measure, the Raiders drafted a third DB, though it should be noted that Brown started at linebacker for Michigan in ’09 and at safety in ’08. He’s in an uphill battle to make the 53-man and will be hard pressed to even get a practice squad invite.
The 9 picks in 2010 marked the biggest Raiders draft class since the 11 picked back in ’07. While there is plenty of praise for the approach taken in the 2010 class, only production will validate the success of this group. As usual, we’ll revisit in three years to determine just how well the Raiders did for themselves in 2010.
Topics: 2010 Draft Class, Al Davis, Bruce Campbell, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Jacoby Ford, Jared Veldheer, Jeremy Ware, Kirk Morrison, Lamarr Houston, Rolando McClain, Stevie Brown, Travid Goethel, Walter McFadden