Overall it was a very successful weekend for the Oakland Raiders franchise. It could possibly go down as one of the great drafts of all time for Oakland, assuming that these guys who were selected play at the caliber that most people expect them to be capable of. One of the most surprising moves of the weekend that caught all kinds of headlines on day three was Oakland’s trade of a 2012 4th round pick to the Washington Redskins for QB Jason Campbell. However, the move that made me smile the most was the eighth pick of this draft, Rolando McClain. From then on I knew this draft would be a good one.
In taking Rolando McClain in the first round, Oakland has really upgraded their linebackers over what they started the 2009 season with. They now have size to go along with the speed at the position and they have a guy in the middle that can come in from day one and be a legitimate starter for the team. McClain has been my favorite guy at number eight since January. He is a very smart player, who racked up over 100 tackles for the Crimson Tide en route to a NCAA National Championship. He is a field general who Alabama head coach Nick Saban called, “Probably the best defensive football player in the country.”
With the 6’4” 250 pound McClain, the 6’5” 255 lbs Trevor Scott, the 6’3” 255 pound Kamerion Wimbley, and now the 6’3” 264 pound Quentin Groves the Raiders have gotten significantly bigger at the linebacker position. With no defensive tackle taken this year, it leads some to believe that Raiders defensive coordinator John Marshall might go with the 3-4 defense this year.
With the next pick in their draft, Oakland went defensive line, again in an attempt to shore up the run defense. Lamarr Houston was part of the best run defense in the NCAA last year and he is expected to play his time with the Raiders as a defensive end. Houston was explosive during his time on the interior line for the Longhorns. I love the first two picks which were totally aimed at fixing the battered run defense that has given the Raiders a significant amount of problems for the past seven years.
After Houston, the Raiders add two offensive tackles that are bursting with potential. Jared Veldheer was considered for the entire off season to be the best division II lineman in the country. Bruce Campbell was considered to be a raw project as an NFL tackle with only 17 career starts, but to get him in the fourth round when he was rated the sixth best tackle in the draft is a steal for Oakland.
Jacoby Ford was another one of those picks that Oakland fans were afraid would be an over-drafted 2nd or 3rd round pick for Oakland. Instead, they take the dangerously fast Ford in the fourth round two picks after Campbell. Ford has very good hands for a receiver and a lot of playing experience in the ACC which is a really good conference in NCAA football. The knock on him would be his route running, and he still may have been a bit over-drafted, but he has the potential to be an excellent slot receiver and return man for the Raiders.
The next pick brought Walter McFadden out of Auburn, the brother of two-time Super Bowl Champion Bryant McFadden. The thing I like about watching Walter’s highlight video was how explosive he is as a tackler. For a guy who is pretty small frame, he can hit with explosive pop. Another good thing is that once he gets a ball carrier in front of him, they do not get around him; he is as sure a tackler as you can get for a cornerback.
Then, the Raiders traded with Washington: an “undisclosed future pick” for QB Jason Campbell. Later on, we found out that it was a 2012 4th round pick. The value of this trade is yet to be determined, but adding a guy who could potentially come in and start at QB, and be very productive for Oakland, is another smart move in a long line of good moves for Oakland this weekend. I’m not particularly high on Campbell, but for what the Raiders give up to get him it makes perfect sense. Campbell at the very least will provide great competition for the Oakland Raiders heading into the 2010 season.
The sixth round choice was a head scratcher to me. I didn’t understand it at all. It seemed as though they were just looking for another body in practices with their selection of Travis Goethel, the ILB from the Sun Devils. Perhaps he will prove me wrong and make the team, but this team is so deep in the linebackers even in spite the fact that they traded away Kirk Morrison. It seemed like a pointless pick-up to me.
After that pick came the seventh round selection of another cornerback, Jeremy Ware from Michigan State. He is another one that is smaller than you would expect for the Raiders defense. He was also arrested in 2007 for unarmed robbery according to TFDS’s own Patrick A. Patterson. He is not a typical speed guy at corner as he runs a marginal 4.61 40 yard dash, but at least he hits hard. The second seventh round pick was spent on Stevie Brown, a safety from Michigan. Basically, the last three picks for Oakland this year are just more bodies for practice. It would surprise me to see any of these guys make a lasting impact on the squad, but hey, you never know.
To recap, Oakland added two Campbell’s through this draft as well as another fast McFadden. McClain was a guy who I had rated the highest on my board, Levi Damien had number one on his board, and Jerry McDonald had number one on his board for the Raiders. All three of us thought that they would not draft him simply because he made so much sense.
Speaking of sense, this draft made too much sense for the Raiders. You’ve got to think that Tom Cable’s fingerprints are all over this thing. Out of nearly 6,000 voters on an ESPN poll, a winning 33% think the Raiders had the best draft of the AFC West teams this year. In contrast, the losers (according to the voters) were the Chargers who only garnered 11% of the vote.
I’m satisfied, even though the last three picks appear to me to be just some bodies to participate in practice and be signed to the practice squad for further development. Overall, I’d give the Raiders staff an A for the weekend. In my opinion, the top six draft choices this year have a chance at making an impact for Oakland this year. Adding a new starting caliber quarterback for a draft choice that is two years away is just the cherry on top for Oakland in this draft.
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–Bret Armstrong, TFDS Guest Contributor