Oakland Raiders: How Al Davis' Last Dozen First-Round Draft Picks Have Fared
It was in Davis' later years that he came under heavy fire—questioned for his decisions. As he grew older, his signing and drafting of talent became more and more scrutinized.
Each year, football fans across the nation eagerly waited in anticipation to see which player crazy old Al Davis would "waste" a first-round pick on.
This year, the franchise participated in its first draft without Davis as general manager and/or owner in over 40 years. With the 95th pick in the third round, the Raiders selected guard Tony Bergstrom.
How will new Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie's first pick fare against Davis' last dozen?
Here's a look at Oakland's first picks since 2000. You be the judge as to whether Davis was fairly criticized for choosing them.
2011: Stefen Wisniewski
The former Penn State center was the first selection by the Oakland Raiders in the 2011 NFL draft.
The pick came in the second round.
In his first and only year in the NFL, Wisniewski earned Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week and was named to the All-Rookie team at the end of the season.
He effectively started every game.
2010: Rolando McClain
With the eighth pick in the 2010 NFL draft, the Oakland Raiders selected Alabama linebacker Rolando McClain.
In two seasons, McClain is averaging 92 tackles and three sacks per season.
McClain has also recorded a safety and an interception.
He's still just 22 years old.
2009: Darrius Heyward-Bey
The Oakland Raiders took wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey with the seventh pick in the 2009 NFL draft.
Specifically, Davis chose Heyward-Bey for his speed.
In his first season, he played sparingly.
Fortunately, he's continued to grow each year. In 14 games last season, Heyward-Bey caught 64 passes for just under 1,000 yards.
The two wide receivers who were taken next were Michael Crabtree and Jeremy Maclin.
Crabtree has yet to dazzle, but he's statistically better in nearly every category. He averages 746 yards and four touchdowns to Heyward-Bey's 488 yards and two touchdown average.
Maclin has enjoyed consistent success in the NFL.
2008: Darren McFadden
Running back Darren McFadden is nothing to scoff at with the fourth pick in 2008's NFL draft.
When healthy, he dominates. The big factor, of course, is when he's healthy.
After a near-1,200-yard campaign in 2010, McFadden was sidelined for most of 2011.
Still, he's a fantastic athlete to have rushing for the Silver and Black.
2007: JaMarcus Russell
In 2007, the Oakland Raiders owned the first overall selection of the draft. They took LSU quarterback JaMarcus Russell.
Unfortunately, after three seasons, Russell busted and is out of the NFL.
Russell completed 52 percent of his passes. He threw 18 touchdowns to 23 interceptions.
To defend Al Davis, though, it's very difficult to accurately draft the best and most NFL-ready player No. 1 overall. The Raiders were desperate for a franchise quarterback, and Russell was phenomenal in college.
I do have to point out, however, guys like Calvin Johnson, Adrian Peterson, Patrick Willis, Darrelle Revis and Dwayne Bowe were taken shortly after.
2006: Michael Huff
Since being drafted six seasons ago, Michael Huff has put together a quality career.
He averages 54 tackles, seven passes deflected and two interceptions per year from the safety position. He enjoyed a four-sack season in 2010.
Believe it or not, he's actually one of the better defensive backs taken in the 2006 draft.
Maybe seventh overall wasn't so bad.
2005: Fabian Washington
At cornerback, there weren't many better options.
Washington, though, only lasted three seasons with the Raiders. He averaged about 35 tackles, nine passes deflected and two interceptions.
Washington spent three more years—statistically similar—with the Baltimore Ravens. He is now out of football.
2004: Robert Gallery
Some consider offensive lineman Robert Gallery one of the best Oakland Raiders lineman of the past decade.
Others just call him a bust.
He's certainly been sporadic.
The Raiders used Gallery all over the line, first at right tackle, then left tackle before moving him to left guard. He enjoyed a few years as a more than serviceable blocker, touted for his run-blocking.
Gallery has been plagued by injuries, though. After seven years with the Raiders, Oakland cut him.
He signed with the Seattle Seahawks for the 2011 season. They, too, cut him.
Taken anywhere else in the draft, Gallery (and Al Davis) wouldn't be so heavily scrutinized. However, considering he was taken No. 2 overall—in front of Larry Fitzgerald, Philip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger and Steven Jackson—his résumé takes a drastic hit.
2003: Nnamdi Asomugha
Taken with the 31st pick in 2003, Nnamdi Asomugha was an absolute steal for the Oakland Raiders.
Asomugha suited up for the Silver and Black for eight seasons. In that time, he racked up 271 tackles.
His best season came in 2006, when he intercepted eight passes, one of which he returned for a touchdown.
Today, he's one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL.
2002: Philip Buchanon
Taken No. 17 in 2002, Philip Buchanon served the Oakland Raiders as a cornerback and punt returner.
Though he only played in 36 games in three seasons, Buchanon had plenty of success. He was a ball hawk with speed, picking off 11 passes and deflecting another 24. In 2003 alone, he intercepted six passes, returning them for 176 yards and two touchdowns.
He lasted three seasons with Oakland.
2001: Derrick Gibson
Defensive back Derrick Gibson was taken with the 28th pick in the 2001 NFL draft.
He spent five seasons in the NFL, all with the Oakland Raiders. In that time, he accumulated two sacks, three interceptions and 156 tackles.
Gibson was very average.
The players selected shortly after Gibson include Reggie Wayne, Drew Brees, Chad Ochocinco and Steve Smith.
2000: Sebastian Janikowski
When you just consider the drafting of kicker Sebastian Janikowski, it's a genius move. When you factor in that it was at No. 17 in 2000's NFL draft, it makes the move entirely crazy.
Apparently, Al Davis knew what he was doing.
Janikowski has dominated the NFL with his left foot. He's easily the best kicker in the league.
Since joining the team, he has become the franchise leader in points scored. He also blasted an NFL-record 63 yard field goal in 2011.
Sadly, not many in the 2000 draft were much better options in hindsight (besides Tom Brady at No. 199).
Was he worth the No. 17 pick?
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