Raiders Can't Afford to "Bust" In This Draft

Greg SquiresCorrespondent IMarch 8, 2009

As many fans have, I have wasted time by looking at mock draft after mock draft.  Some utterly ridiculous, some very insightful.  And all different.  Everyone has their own ideas of what is going to happen and what teams need what help and when they should draft it.  That's the fun of it I guess.

But, as we sit here, I can't help but realize that this draft will be the 20th anniversary of a pretty decent draft class. Barry Sanders, Derrick Thomas, Deion Sanders and a Raider you may have heard of in the second round named Steve Wisniewski.  There were even late round steals that turned out to be pretty good in their day. Dave Meggett (fifth round) and Rodney Peete (sixth round) are a couple.

But, there was another pick that stands out.  And no I'm not talking about Troy Aikman going No. 1.  I'm talking about second pick Tony Mandarich(pictured above).  Selected second overall right ahead of the grouping of Barry, Derrick, and Deion by the Green Bay Packers. Mandarich was a highly regarded offensive tackle coming out of Michigan State. First team All-American, Outland Trophy winner, and 2-time Big Ten Lineman of the Year.

After three years of his four year contract he was cut by the Packers and is widely regarded as one of the biggest draft busts of all time. The Green Bay Packers had a young quarterback named Brett Favre at the time.  You may have heard of him.  I'm sure their main concern at the time was to protect him and give him time to stay upright and throw the ball.

In retrospect, can you imagine if they had added a Derrick Thomas or a Deion Sanders to a defense that already included Reggie White? Can you imagine what might have been had they selected Barry Sanders and he spent his career alongside Brett Favre?  Possible history changing stuff here.

Now, the Raiders dilemma.  They are caught in the same position of having to keep a young quarterback on his feet so he can throw the ball downfield.   There are some good solid lineman in this draft that could very well be exactly what they're looking for.  Does that mean they should look at nothing else?  I don't think so.

They could draft an offensive lineman.  They could draft a defensive lineman.  They could draft a wide receiver.  Heck, this is still Al Davis, and he could draft a linebacker or a corner too.  There is some really good talent in this draft on both sides of the ball. 

The simple facts are that the Raiders have a lot of needs and that different players would help them in one area or another.  They have had a good offseason so far and need to follow it up with a strong draft.  Everyone has differing opinions on who those picks should be, but the truth is, what the Raiders can not afford to do, is draft a "bust".