Wednesday, May 6, 2009

2009 NFL Draft Grades: Oakland Raiders

Oh those Raiders, always good for a laugh on draft day. Or so it seems. Was the '09 version of Al Davis' obsession with speed disastrous for the team? We won't really know that for at least three years but it's always fun to look at what could have been. Between 2000 and 2002, the team won 33 games in three years. From 2003 through 2008 they have a grand total of 24 over six seasons and have not won more than five games since 2002.

Luckily the Raiders have two areas that they can hang their hat on: their rushing offense and passing defense (both 10th in The League last year). People may claim that the pass defense was so good because opponents could just run all over them, meaning less passing attempts. While true (Oakland allowed 159.7 rushing yards per game in 2008, 32st in The League) you can't overlook the presence of star Nnamdi Asomugha, who effectively removes half of the field. The addition of Darren McFadden to the running game, combined with the efforts of Justin Fargas and Michael Bush, leaves Da Raidas with quite a potent ground game. Unfortunately QB JaMarcus Russell has progressed slowly, if at all, meaning the passing game leaves much to be desired. They were dead last in passing in '08. But, hey, yay rush 'O' and pass 'D'!

Tom Cable returns to the circus that is the Raiders. After taking over for Lane Kiffin early last season, he managed to become the full time head coach for real in the late winter. Al Davis certainly drug his feet in making the announcement. Davis is passionate and wants to win, I'll give him that, but it appears the game has passed him by. Let the coaches do the coaching and the scouts figure out what the best talent is. If Davis keeps his mark on the franchise the team will continue its abysmal play. Have a look.

1/7/7 - Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland
2/15/47 - Mike Mitchell, SS, Ohio
3/7/71 - Matt Shaughnessy, DE/OLB, Wisconsin
4/24/124 - Louis Murphy, WR, Florida
4/26/126 - Slade Norris, DE/OLB, Oregon State
6/26/199 - Stryker Sulak, DE/OLB, Missouri
6/29/202 - Brandon Myers, TE, Iowa

  • WR - Check!
  • OL - Try again.
  • CB - Try again.
  • S - Check!
  • DL - Check!
  • LB - Try again.
The Raiders were active with some minor moves here and there, dropping down in rounds 2, 4, and 6 and losing their 7th all together. However, they picked up an additional 4 and 6 leaving them with the standard seven selections. What did they do with them? There was a clear emphasis on speed (as usual), going for undersized DEs (three of them) and two shifty WRs. They also added a safety, a big need, and a TE, not really a high priority. They completely avoided offensive linemen, corner backs, and linebackers. That wasn't wise at all.

GRADE: 50/100

Pick 1 - Michael Crabtree was there for the taking. The consensus #1 WR is staring you in the face and you blink? Chalk another blown pick up to Al Davis' obsession with speed. Heyward-Bey is a raw WR; he's more of a track star the reliable pass catcher. He needs to refine his route running and sure up his hands. Otherwise this pick is a gigantic bust. Instead of getting a dynamic WR who exhibited all the tools you look for in the NFL, they go for someone who needs time to develop. Grade: 3

Pick 2 - Some scouting services hadn't even rated Mitchell, that's how early the Raiders grabbed him. He was not invited to the combine and many teams have said he wasn't even on their big board. After the pick experts were saying he was a late round pick at best but the Raiders liken him to Ronnie Lott. For the sake of their fans I hope that's right. Grade: 2

Pick 3 - Derrick Burgess is a one-man show in Oakland and there were rumors they were looking to dump him. Shuaghnessy may not make an impact as a rookie but he'll be a rotational player that will get better with time. The Raiders really needed guys that would make an impact now, not 2 or 3 years from now. I have no doubts that this would have been Michael Johnson if the Bengals didn't select him right before Oakland. They need DEs. Grade: 6

Pick 4 - Murphy may just be the best pick of their draft. He was seen as a fringe 2nd-likely 3rd round pick but feel into the late 4th for whatever reason. After losing Ronald Curry their talented depth at the position was scarce. Enter Heyward-Bey and now Murphy, added to the chart with Javon Walker and some scrubs. Grade: 8

Pick 5 - I honestly hadn't heard of Slade Norris until the Raiders made this pick. He was a defensive end in college but may have to transition to LB in the NFL due to his size. He didn't expect to be drafted and he goes in the 4th round? Other options better than Slade included LBs Gerald McRath, Scott McKillop, and Nic Harris, OG Tyronne Green, OT Troy Kropog, and DT Terrance Taylor. Grade: 2

Pick 6 - Sulak is intriguing to me. If he adds some strength and weight he could be a reliable weak side DE. As a late round pick he's a good one. Teams were flirting with possibly making him an OLB in a 3-4 but he doesn't possess the necessary skills or footwork. The Raiders seemed to be in love with guys with speed or that need time to develop. Sulak is the latter. Grade: 6

Pick 7 - Of all the TEs available during this draft they go with Brandon Myers over John Phillips, David Johnson, and Cameron Morrah? Myers was not projected to be drafted and wasn't even expecting to be signed after the draft but the Raiders take him in the 6th round. Al Davis must really think he can find gems. Grade: 2

GRADE: 29/70


Yuck. Just another punch in the gut for Raiders fans. This team does not know how to draft. They consistently reach for players that need a lot of time to develop or grab the speedy guy that may be nothing more than that. This was a downright terrible draft, devoid of much immediate help for a team that needs it. Bad.


WHY: They didn't take Crabtree. They reach numerous times and have no one that'll make an impact from Day 1. There were plenty of players available at each pick that would have made more sense. Total disaster.

NOTE: My "final grade" is weighted and is not a simple combination of "needs" and "talent".

Best Pick: Murphy
Worst Pick: Heyward-Bey
Sleeper: Mitchell
Instant Impact: None? Is that even possible?
Developmental: Sulak

OTHER DRAFT GRADES - Oakland Raiders
CBS Sports (Prisco): D
CBS Sports (Rang): D
ESPN (Kiper): D (Brooks): N/A (as of May 6) (Fan's): D
Walter: F



No comments: