For the second year running the Oakland Raiders are stuck standing outside in the rain while the NFL’s biggest offseason party is in full swing. No need for Reggie McKenzie to check with the door man, his name is not on that list. As it turns out the Raiders won’t be able to get past that velvet rope until all the cool kids have gone home with their new dates.
Such is the life of an NFL team that mortgaged its future on two veteran players, one unproven quarterback commodity and a once highly regarded linebacker trying to shed the bust label.
For their troubles the Raiders have ended their losing ways but haven’t yet returned to their victorious days either. Middle of the road, 8-8 for two straight years and we’re getting ready to build all over again.
When you look at it that way there would seem to be little reason to be invested in tonight’s primetime festivities. Funny thing about the NFL draft is that every pick truly matters. Now don’t get me wrong, clearly the over-before-it-started career of Maurice Clarett makes for a massive waste of a draft pick. But what one bad pick does is open up the opportunity for the next team to make a great selection.
Back in ’05 Denver took Clarett at the end of the third round which left Marion Barber III to the Dallas Cowboys at the start of the fourth. Neither player is going to Canton in fact both are already out of the game. But there is no question which team got the better back. Here’s a hint: Barber made it to a Pro Bowl while Clarett didn’t even make the 53-man roster.
With each selection the draft shifts and changes. Think of it as one big game of Tetris where every move influences the next move and so on and so on.
So even though the Raiders are draft outsiders again, don’t think for a second that there isn’t plenty of intrigue in Oakland’s war room.
You never know when a couple of teams might get desperate and start reaching at one position. Next thing you know there’s a run on defensive ends which might not seem meaningful to the Raiders at #95 but will heavily affect their draft strategy.
I used the defensive end position as an example but there are already rumors of the 49ers going after West Virginia DE Bruce Irvin in round one, a man many had Oakland taking at the end of the third. Could be nothing at all, then again it could mean everything to McKenzie and company. Only way to find out is to watch as the drama unfolds.