Insiders have said that Al Davis was always looking for 4 players; the new Cliff Branch, Ken Stabler, Willie Brown & Jack Tatum. Here are the Raiders attempts that failed.
#10: Darrius Heyward-Bey: #1, 7 overall (2009 draft)
Before the 2009 draft, most experts had Michael Crabtree and Jeremy Maclin as the top 2 WR in the NFL draft. Then along came the NFL combines. DHB ran a 4.3 40 at the combines and Al Davis was smiling like the Grinch on Christmas morning. Even though he only had 138 catches for 1958 yards in 3 years at Maryland, DHB shockingly was chosen.
I remember destroying this pick in an article the next day and getting destroyed back by Raider fans saying I needed to give him time. Was 4 years enough?
In an amazing 300 targets in 4 years, DHB only caught 140 passes for 11 TD’s. In that same time Michael Crabtree caught 260 catches on 429 targets and 21 td’s. Local station KNBR radio joked that for Raider fans sake 40 times at the NFL combines should be kept away from Al Davis.
#9 Jessie Hester WR: #1, #23 overall (1985 draft)
This pick is usually forgotten by most. During the glory days of Florida St. football, Jessie Hester was a star. He was quick and loved to go deep. At 5’ 11” and 175 lbs. He looked like Cliff Branch and the Raiders drafted him in the first round.
In 3 years Hester caught 56 passes for 10 touchdowns and the Raiders cut him before year 4. He found a short term home for 4 years at Indianapolis as the #3 and #4 WR but he mostly was a second tier player. He ended up being a huge bust for the Raiders that few talk about.
#8 Derrick Gibson CB: #1, #28 overall (2001 draft)
At the NFL combines Derrick Gibson was a star. He bench pressed 400 lbs. and ran a 4.40-4.45 forty. At 6’ 2” and 210 lbs., you could see teams swooning. Marquez Pope blew a coverage and was beaten by Baltimore’s tight end Shannon Sharpe for a 96 yard TD in the playoffs that sealed the Raiders fate. A safety was needed.
Gibson struggled a lot in tackling and he had terrible instincts against the pass. Many college safeties are free lancers with little responsibility and that’s what Gibson was. After 5 years the Raiders cut Gibson and no other NFL team ever picked him up. Another in the long line of NFL combine and work out warriors Al Davis fell in love with who was a huge bust.
#7 John Clay OL: #1, #15 overall (1987 draft)
When Missouri stand out John Clay was drafted by the Raiders #15 overall, the Raiders thought they had a tackle for the next 10 years. At 6’ 5” and an athletic 300 lbs., he fit the mold as a huge Raiders OL. After 1 year though the Raiders realized they had made a mistake. They traded him to the Chargers along with two draft choices for all world OL Jim Lachey. Problem was they traded Lachey; who starred for Washington; for Jay Schroeder who never panned out at QB. Clay only started in 10 games and played 2 seasons in the NFL until he was out of the league.
#6 Ted Watts S: #1, #21 overall (1981 draft)
What made this pick so painful is that the Raiders also had the #23 pick in the first round and they selected OL Curt Marsh who rarely played due to injuries. In 5 years Marsh was out of the NFL with only 22 starts. If it wasn’t for 2nd round pick Howie Long this draft would have been disastrous.
Al Davis told the media, Hanford Dixon, and anyone else that would listen that he was taking the Southern Mississippi CB if he was there at the #21 pick. Dixon was there but Al Davis took Ted Watts out of Texas Tech instead. Why? Because he had better 40 times than Dixon and because Dixon refused to run more than once. Dixon went on to a storied 9 year career at Cleveland being one of the best CB’s in the NFL. The 3 time pro bowler is revered in Cleveland and in all those years he missed 5 starts.
Ted Watts only started 22 games in 4 years with the Raiders and he just never caught on as a starter. He was not a good tackler and seemed over-matched in coverage. He bounced around to the New York Giants and San Diego Chargers and was out of the league in 6 years only starting in 25 of the 74 games he played.
#5 Patrick Bates S: #1, #12 overall (1993 draft)
Some thought the Raiders might go with Alabama safety George Teague who thrived on making big plays but the Raiders stood pat and chose Texas A & M star Patrick Bates. He was a part of the Aggies famous “Wrecking Crew” defense.
His first year was at UCLA and within a month of each other his mother and grandmother; who he was very close to; both died. After transferring to Texas A & M for a new start, he was arrested for assault.
He was eventually arrested for holding a woman at gun point. On the field he wasn’t much better. He seemed more athlete than football player and wasn’t that big of a hitter either. He was out of the league in 3 years ending his career with 1 interception. Teague had a 9 year career and even though it wasn’t great, he had some great moments and some good seasons. He still holds the record for a post season interception returned for a touchdown with his 101 yard interception return against Detroit in the first round of the 1993 playoffs.
#4 Bob Buczcowski DE: #1, #24 overall (1986 draft)
This guy really was a pimp. This is a name that the Raiders; and especially the NFL want you to forget. Bob had a good career at Pitt and the Raiders seemed to like him more than some other teams which had him going in the second round. The Raiders chose him and the rest is infamous history.
He played for the Raiders one year and was let go. He then played a year each at Arizona and Cleveland before he was out of the league.
In 2005 he was arrested for being a co-conspirator in a drug and prostitution ring in Pennsylvania. His live in girlfriend was Amy Schifano who was known as the Monroeville Madam. It was said that they had up to 300 calls a day and they rented hotel rooms for clients. There also was cocaine distribution involved. Facing 87 years in prison, Buzcowski turned states evidence and became a witness for the prosecution for a much reduced sentence. His final sentence was 90 days house arrest. A bust that got busted. Don’t blame me; it writes itself!
#3 Marc Wilson QB: #1, #15 overall (1980 draft)
First off you will not find a nicer guy than Marc Wilson. He ended up being a successful businessman. In a couple of interviews in the last 10 years he summed up his career. “It may not have seemed it at times but I really put my all in my career. Football is my least favorite sport and when I played in the NFL I never felt I was good enough to have control over the game. It was always a struggle. In basketball and baseball I felt in control. I just wish it would have went better. I don’t even watch football anymore and have no desire to go to games.”
With a rocket arm but little accuracy, Marc Wilson was drafted by the Raiders out of BYU. He was one of the originators of the QBU era of the Cougars. In a QB poor draft the Raiders knew that Jim Plunkett was still kind of a crap shoot. From 1980-1986, the Raiders had a revolving door at QB. Plunkett would start and then struggle and then Marc Wilson would take over. Wilson would struggle or get hurt and then Plunkett started. Add an injury here and there and it was a mess at times. In that time Plunkett had one really good year in 1983 (Raiders won the Super Bowl), and Wilson had one good year in 1985 (Raiders were considered favorites to go to the Super Bowl).
In 1985 Wilson was atrocious in the first round of the playoffs and the heavily favored Raiders lost to the Patriots 27-20 at home. Wilson was 11 for 27 with 3 INT’s and 1 TD and was booed off the field. The upstart Patriots shocked the NFL by going to the Super Bowl and being destroyed by the 1985 Bears.
In his 8 years as a Raider QB he only started 50 games. He was 31-19 and he gave Raider fans nightmares. Many feel if it wasn’t for injuries in the 1970’s the Raiders would have had 1 more Super Bowl win, and if it had better QB play in the 80’s they would have had 1 more Super Bowl win in that decade as well. The Raiders had a lot of talent but the Plunkett/Wilson roller coaster was a hit or miss saga with more misses than hits as time went on. To old school Raider fans, just the mention of Marcs name brings tingles down the spine. What could have been.
#2 Todd Marinovich QB: #1, #24 overall (1991 Draft)
In the late 1980’s ESPN started picking up a loyal viewership and Todd Marinovich was one of their first media darlings.
Lost in Robo QB history, was that his father Marv was the first ever strength and conditioning coach in the NFL. He was hired by? Al Davis. He studied Eastern Bloc training methods and many of his methods were used in the origination of core training and are still used today.
Todd as an infant teethed on frozen liver and kidneys. He could not eat white sugar or processed food and only drank raw milk. Up until his adulthood he was not allowed to eat fast food or sweets. He rarely ate red meat.
After his parents divorced he really was out of control. His pot use was so bad in high school opponents fans chanted Marijuanavich & he was busted for cocaine. President Reagan honored Todd at his home after a big win & he was the Johnny Manziel of his time with celebs always wanting to party with him.
In the pro’s his drug use was worse. He passed NFL drug tests by using friends urine, until once he used a friend that had partied all night and he tested positive for alcohol. He then turned to LSD which wasn’t tested for. He was out of the league in 2 years starting only 9 games including 1 playoff game where he threw 4 INT’s in a 10-6 loss to Kansas City. Pittsburgh attempted to sign him but he told them he no longer wanted to play in the NFL. He played in Canada for a short time. A real troubled person who seems to be doing better in life.
#1 Jamarcus WR: #1, #1 overall (2007 draft)
It’s funny how many Raider fans defended these picks at the time (Come on; you know who you are). My fights online with them are of legend. This was another one of those picks I hated and maybe received the most hate of all time. Here were iconic college players Calvin Johnson and Adrian Peterson who were men among boys in college being thrown away for Jamarcus Russell. A guy that got famous in a bowl game against a Notre Dame defense that was one of the worst in the country and the NFL combines where he threw 65 yards on one knee.
Russell in college was an amazing athlete. He was huge; 6’ 6” and 270. Problem was against teams like Auburn and others who ran a pro style type defense he struggled. He was not an accurate QB but he could throw it a mile. At the NFL combines he wowed teams with his size and big arm. John Clayton said, “how could anyone not pick him #1.”
He played 3 years for the Raiders and in 25 starts he was 7-18. With his poor conditioning and his struggles with drugs, he was let go. He tried some come backs but was never really taken seriously.
Well there you have it. The importance of quality drafts can’t be explained any more clearer than with these busts. The draft is the key to creating and sustaining a winner in the salary cap era.