I have always been fascinated by the NFL draft. As a little kid I remember watching it with my dad and seeing Dr. Z, Paul Zimmerman use his dry humor to predict what each team was going to do. He was funny and was the first to really break the draft down into what it is today. I also knew how my mom would not be happy about it and my dad and I having to do chores afterwards to keep her happy. Happy wife, happy life.
Starting in 2000, I started to host a NFL draft party. The first rule was no girlfriends or wives, and that each person had to draft for their own team. We would keep our picks and our notes so the following years we could read what we wrote. We give out awards every year to the best and worst picks of the prior 3 years. I have kept a log full of notes and picks.
First off, I HAVE NO IDEA who the Raiders are going to pick. I don’t know what they are thinking and even if they say they are looking at a player, many times teams leak lies to fool the other teams into trades or other things.
My strategy? I don’t draft for need unless the player warrants being picked that high. For instance if the Raiders need a defensive tackle and there are no defensive tackles that warrant being picked at #4, I’d pick the best player available instead and wait for the next round to pick for a need that I had.
I remember going away from that in 2002 with the Napoleon Harris Pick. The Raiders were desperate for a middle linebacker and Harris was the best one out there in a draft that didn’t have many good linebackers. In reality he was just an ok player and he never panned out. I’ll never do that again.
Don’t be bullied by people. There are site owners and web pages that practically tell you who to pick, how to think and how to feel and that is a sign of huge insecurity. I remember being kicked off sites when I said DHB was a terrible pick. I was called a 49er fan when I said Jamarcus Russell was a huge mistake. And my friends still laugh at me for falling on the floor when the Raiders passed up on California great Aaron Rodgers to get Nebraska defensive back Fabian Washington.
Some fans will like ANYONE that is picked by their teams, but if you don’t like a pick, it’s ok not to. If you like a guy it’s also cool to say why and go from there. Remember, facts are always greater than opinions, assumptions and hopes.
Here is a list of the Raiders draft picks and my picks. I’m not saying I know more but it is what it is.
2000 Raiders pick: Sebastian Janikowski K Florida St.
Jim’s Pick: Shaun Alexander RB Alabama
(Alexander was a stud at Alabama and is a borderline hall of famer; only Seahawk MVP in a season; most yards rushing in Seattle history. Jano has become a solid kicker but he’s never really had to play on the big stage)
2001 Raiders pick: Derrick Gibson DB Florida St.
Jim’s Pick: Kendrell Bell LB Georgia
(Bell was defensive rookie of the year & a key member of the Steelers but several bad knee injuries derailed his career. He had to retire after the 2007 season due to his knees. Gibson is one in a long line of DB draft busts)
2002 Raiders/Jim’s pick: Phillip Buchanon CB Miami Fla.; Napoleon Harris LB Northwestern
(Neither panned out and were considered busts)
2003 Raiders pick: Nnamdi Asomugha CB California; Tyler Brayton DE Colorado
Jim’s Pick: Nnamdi Asomugha CB California; Boss Bailey LB Georgia
(Aso was very good; Bailey was an average player other than one year and Brayton was a solid backup with spurts of being an average starting player at Carolina)
2004 Raiders pick: Robert Gallery T Iowa
Jim’s Pick: Larry Fitzgerald WR Pittsburgh
(Fitzgerald is a probable hall of famer. Gallery was considered a bust at tackle but became a solid guard. He never became the player the Raiders thought he would be though. Retired in 2012)
2005 Raiders pick: Fabian Washington S Nebraska
Jim’s Pick: Aaron Rodgers QB California
(Rodgers is a future hall of famer. Washington was another DB bust)
2006 Raiders pick: Michael Huff S Texas
Jim’s Pick: Matt Leinart QB USC
(Leinart was a lazy party frat boy, bust. Huff was somewhat soft and was an average player at best; another DB bust. He’s listed as a Denver Bronco but he has barely played in the NFL after leaving the Raiders in 2012, and didn’t play last year.)
2007 Raiders pick: Jamarcus Russell QB LSU
Jim’s Pick: Calvin Johnson WR Georgia Tech
(Megatron is a future hall of famer. I actually thought about Adrian Peterson who was a monster at Oklahoma. After Russell was cut, 2 large Raiders web site owners emailed me personally apologizing me for the abuse they and the fans on the Raiders sites gave me about Russell when I said he would be a bust. I accepted their apology and signed up again on the sites but I don’t go on them.)
2008 Raiders/Jim’s Pick: Darren McFadden RB Arkansas
(other than one year he could not stay healthy and never could equal his physical college style)
2009 Raiders Pick: Darrius Heyward-Bey WR Maryland
Jim’s Pick: Michael Crabtree WR Texas Tech
(DHB was a bust as I predicted and is pretty much a special teams player at Pittsburgh and rarely plays as a WR. Crabtree has had a fairly good career; time will tell with him)
2010 Raiders/Jims Pick: Rolando McClain LB Alabama
(emotional issues, big bust)
2011 Raiders/Jims Pick: Stefen Wisniewski C Penn St.
(2nd Round; Raiders had no 1st round pick)
(good at guard ok at center; lost to free agency)
2012 Raiders Pick: Tony Bergstrom T Utah
Jim’s Pick: Frank Alexander DE Oklahoma
(Raiders did not have a 1st or 2nd round pick)
(Both are backups; Alexander was suspended for 4 games for substance abuse)
2013 Raiders Pick: DJ Hayden DB Houston
Jim’s Pick: Star Lotulelei DL Utah
(Lotulelei has solidified the Panthers run defense. Hayden has been a bust so far and was a puzzling pick. An athlete with little football instinct and really wasn’t all that great in college)
2014 Raiders/Jims Pick: Khalil Mack LB Buffalo
(Rushed the qb much better in the second half. Solid year with a lot of potential)
These are just some of the players I picked. Could you imagine them as Raiders?
Let’s look at some of the trends and reasons why the Raiders have missed on so many picks:
The Raiders defense has struggled mightily in the last 12 years. Do you notice the trend? NO defensive linemen chosen in the first round since 1997! The Raiders forgot that the most important part of your team after the quarterback is the defensive line. You DON’T build a defense with defensive backs. You get a DL to stop the run and rush the passer and then go from there.
The main problem I’ve had with Mr. Davis draft picks is that he always felt the team was better than they really were. He seemed to be in denial like some who felt this team was close to winning when they were obviously not. When you lose 11 games year after year you lack talent in a big way.
I feel the NFL combines really ruined Mr. Davis. I don’t pay attention to the combines. He became obsessed with DB’s 40 times in gym shorts and loved weight room junkies like Robert Gallery. Darrius Heyward-Bey who was a ridiculous pick, gained his millions purely from his NFL combine 40 time. Gallery had a great college career but he became a legend due to his amazing NFL combine stats just like New York Jets bust Vernon Gholston.
I saw Larry Fitzgerald play several times and even with him being triple teamed on occasion, he still had huge games. Calvin Johnson was a man among boys. I would love them on the Raiders. And if I heard how far Jamarcus Russell could throw on his knees at the NFL combines one more time, I was going to lose it.
I pointed out to many how he struggled mightily against pro style defenses like Auburn who made him look lost, as well as his lack of accuracy. Russell made his money in his last bowl game against the 104th ranked defense destroying Notre Dame.
Aaron Rodgers was a no-brainer and every draft expert was shocked when the Raiders went with Fabian Washington. Again, they drafted for need and Washington had the fastest 40 time in the NFL combines of any DB. They forgot to look at how he struggled in coverage at Nebraska, and that he was more of an athlete than a player with football instinct.
My big mistake was Matt Leinart. In College he was a stud, with great accuracy and instinct. Once he got the big money in the NFL though, he immediately was a regular on the party circuit and his lack of work ethic was of legend. Young girls began to put photo’s up of him slobbering drunk in clubs. A total waste.
Who will the Raiders take? If it were me and he is there, I take Leonard Williams the DL from USC. With the present NFL movement, the Raiders probably have the worst pass rush in the NFL and you can’t win without a pass rush.
Our draft parties have been so much fun. Unfortunately it has also been a time where I can tell my fellow Raider fans I told you so on all of the terrible picks from the previous years. it’s a lot more fun to smile about good past draft picks than head scratching mediocre to bad draft busts.
So cool down the beer and ice tea, get the food out and welcome to the 16th annual NFL draft party! Who are you picking?