Back to the Draft! Redrafting the 2007 Oakland Raiders

Apr 27, 2017; Philadelphia, PA, USA; General overall view of the stage as the Oakland Raiders prepare to select Ohio State Buckeyes cornerback Gareon Conley (not pictured) as the No. 24 pick in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 27, 2017; Philadelphia, PA, USA; General overall view of the stage as the Oakland Raiders prepare to select Ohio State Buckeyes cornerback Gareon Conley (not pictured) as the No. 24 pick in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

The 2007 NFL Draft isn’t a pleasant memory for the Oakland Raiders. If they had to do it all over again, what would change?

Great Scott, Raider Nation! We’re officially in the middle of the Oakland Raiders 2017 offseason after an exciting 2017 NFL draft. As such, the hamster wheel that is the media is in full spin, churning out stories here there and everywhere that would have been mere afterthoughts in the regular season. Not to mention, the tired staple of headliners. Player A is in the best shape of his life. Player B eyes Pro Bowl birth. Rookie C has impressed coaches thoroughly in rookie camp.

Yawn. Same old, same old.

Consider this series, then, your calamine lotion for that offseason itch. Take a revisionist stroll down memory lane in this series as we revisit every Raiders draft in the last ten years and examine if the first two rounds (because one just isn’t enough) were a hit or a dreadful miss. Revel in the fantasy that somewhere deep in the caverns of Oakland Coliseum, draped in cobwebs and old Los Angeles Raiders posters, lies some dark, secret machine Mark Davis is keeping hidden. A machine that could take us back in time and right the wrongs of drafts past.

Buckle up, hook the electric wire to the clock and floor it up to 88. We’re heading back to the 2007 NFL Draft…

2007 NFL Draft

Ah…2007. I was in 10th grade back then and funnily enough was the first year my young Australian self was seduced by the glamour of the gridiron. Ironically, unbeknownst to me, the team I fell in love with was statistically the worst team in the NFL that year. The good news? That team had the first overall pick and a chance to rebuild itself back into the pantheon of NFL powerhouses.

But first, let’s set a little context for the year shall we? What was going on in 2007 in pop culture?

Best Picture: The Departed

Best Album: “Taking the Long Way” – The Dixie Chicks

Best Drama Series: The Sopranos

If you shuddered seeing ‘The Dixie Chicks’ pop up then prepare yourself because things are about to get a whole lot worse.

Round 1

The Pick: Jamarcus Russell, QB, LSU.

First things first. Jamarcus Russell was a ridiculously gifted individual athletically. He had an absolute rocket for an arm, and Nick Saban himself was awestruck upon seeing Russell throw the ball 70 yards. On. His. Knees.

Yet despite his athletic talent, Russell will be forever remembered as the greatest draft bust in NFL history, rivaling Ryan Leaf. Russell was viewed by many in the league as a player well deserving of the number one pick. Love him or hate him, Mel Kiper drew similarities to John Elway with Russell which is quite the comparison.

Despite his physical gifts, Russell never lived up the weighty expectations of being the savior of the franchise as number one overall pick. To be fair, if the Raiders drafted him in the 3rd round he still wouldn’t have lived up to them. Russell was released after three seasons with the Silver and Black, having never played an NFL game since. He finished his career with 18 TDs to 23 INT, 52% completion percentage, 15 lost fumbles and a passer rating of 65.2.

In addition to that woeful stat line, Russell’s tenure was plagued by exterior issues as well. His weight was often criticized, Russell ballooned to over 300 pounds at some points in his career, and he was reported to have fallen asleep during team meetings.

The Do Over

The revised number one overall pick for the 2007 season comes down to a jump ball between two sure fire Hall of Famers (its depressing to say that now…) Adrian Peterson or Calvin Johnson.

AP will go down as one of the greatest running backs in NFL history, as will Calvin in terms of Wide Receivers. AP has won the NFL MVP as well as comeback player of the year, and is hoping to reinvigorate his already Hall of Fame worthy career in New Orleans. On the other hand, Megatron holds the record for receiving yards in a single season and most consecutive hundred yard games. Unlike AP, Megatron is enjoying an early retirement Barry Sanders style.

The choice? I have to go with Megatron. There’s a part of me that believes that Megatron would still be in the league if he wasn’t drafted by the Lions. Like with Barry Sanders, the Lions have a reputation for making all-time greats retire well before their time. Wide receivers have a much greater shelf life than running backs do, so there’s every chance Megatron would still be hauling in passes with the Silver and Black had he been the choice in ’07.

We know now that Megatron was then head coach Lane Kiffin’s preferred choice for the no. 1 overall pick. Yet despite his insane career numbers, athletic ability (6’5″ and 4.35 40-yard dash), Johnson’s tenure in Detroit was characterized by a hard working mentality, and above all else, humility. Whilst it would be incredible to imagine what AP would have been like in Oakland, Johnson is the pick here.

Round 2

The Pick: Zach Miller, TE, Arizona State.

Did you know that Jamarcus Russell’s first career TD pass was to Zach Miller? Crazy times.

Zach Miller was actually a pretty solid choice by Al Davis back in 2007. Miller was projected to be a first round pick, but fell to the Raiders at the top of the second. Miller was a great blocker, and filled a need for the Raiders at the time. On top of that, Miller led the Raiders in receiving for three straight years from 2008 to 2010. To be fair however, that stat line is more a reflection of how woeful the receiving corps was. (More on that gem next week).

In 2011, Miller made the Pro Bowl and currently sits third amongst the Raiders tight ends for his career receiving exploits. However, in 2011, Miller was signed by the Seahawks in free agency and we bid farewell to a very good young player.

Was Miller a good pick? Absolutely. Were there better options at this point in the draft though?

Lamarr Woodley and Ryan Khalil stand out in the second round as possible contenders for this spot. However, given the Raiders experience with Woodley I am somewhat soured on considering him in our do-over. Instead, let’s cast our eyes to a player who fell to the third round for this one.

The Do Over

Enter Marhsall Yanda, Pro Bowl guard for the Baltimore Ravens. Yanda has featured in the last six Pro Bowls in a row. If you don’t consider him a future Hall of Famer, you need to stop. Go to your local park. Find a big stick. Then hit yourself in the face with it.

Yanda played every game of his rookie season and only continued to get better. Pro Football Focus ranked him as the best guard in the NFL in the last three seasons running. He’s a two-time first-team All-Pro and was a key piece to the Ravens offense that won Super Bowl 47. Yanda is a good a guard as they come, and for as physical and tough as he is, he’s every bit as mercurial and technical.

Yanda would have elicited memories of Raiders old, rugged determination in the trenches amidst mud and sweat. The bone crunching confrontation at the beginning of every snap, the will to beat the man opposite you. He would have been a phenomenal sight in the Silver and Black. For these reasons, Yanda is the pick here.


Like the Dixie Chicks, the Raiders took the long way when they picked Russell in 2007. The blunder with the number one overall pick set the franchise back for almost a decade.

With our do-over, the Raiders instead walk out of the draft with Megatron and Marshall Yanda. What a time it would’ve been. Megatron would’ve bullied AFC West opponents year after year in the Black Hole. Al loved the vertical game, but imagine how much more potent that would’ve been when the guy with 4.35 speed is also 6’5″! With Yanda keeping the quarterback upright, the Raiders offense would have looked very very different indeed. Dare I say it, so too would have their fortunes!

Must Read: Five 2017 schedule observations

Until next week, mull over the thoughts of what could have been when we’ll jump back in the Delorean for another spin, and revisit the draft of 2008.