Raider Fans: All Aboard The May-Train!

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Raider Fans: All Aboard The May-Train!
(Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

Alright. I've got to write this now, and quick, before I read/see/hear something, and get all kinds of excited about a different first-round prospect and change my mind (AGAIN!) about who I think the Raiders should take with the No. 7 overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft. 

This happens to a lot of us so I hope that you, the reader, can be understanding.  If you can't—if you've really been plugging the same first-round pick since the end of last season—that's okay. But read on, this writer's humble opinion may still have something worth a few minutes of your time.

Yesterday, I was bashing my brain against the wall over the scariest foreseeable scenario Al Davis and Co. could confront when they first go on the clock on April 25.

That is: BJ Raji, Michael Crabtree, Eugene Monroe, Jason Smith, and Aaron Curry are all off the board. A lot of fans, including myself, say trade the pick, but with all those players, it is unrealistic to think the Raiders could find a team willing to trade up. And so I continued bashing my brain.    

Then I read about Aaron Maybin. Until recently, Maybin was not considered a top-10, or even a top-20, pick, but he has been sneaking up mock-draft boards after his combine and pro day workouts. 

The experts are saying that he is best suited to a team running a 3-4 defense, and while the Raiders run a 4-3, what do experts know? Well, a lot, but that's not the point.

Here's what I know. At the end of the college football season, during which Maybin played defensive end, those experts were saying he was too small to play end in a 4-3 scheme in the NFL.

Maybin seemed to take offense to those comments, and so he started packing on muscle.  When he got to the combine he was much bigger, and worked out with the defensive linemen.

At the end of his workout, he stated in an NFL Network interview that he was unhappy with some of his numbers, and that he looked forward to improving them at his pro day.

When Maybin arrived at said pro day, he not only had put on 25 pounds of muscle since the end of his college season, he improved on his combine performance, just as he had planned. 

A guy who makes up his mind to prove himself, and immediately goes out and does it, is exactly the kind of player the Raiders need. Talk about the opposite of Andre Smith, the left tackle who famously went AWOL at the combine and then, grossly out of shape, put on a poor performance at his pro day.

Aaron Maybin is Superman by comparison. Yet, Smith gets a lot of attention as a potential No. 7 pick for Oakland and Maybin does not. Why?

Because the Raiders need a left tackle right now, not a defensive end or outside linebacker? That's possible. But at some point the Raiders might look at drafting players instead of positions.  

The moves Al Davis and Tom Cable have made this offseason suggest that character and versatility are now of primary importance to the organization. A guy like Maybin, who is well-spoken and happy to work out for anyone, anytime, fits the new regime like a small square peg in a gigantic square hole.

Even more importantly, Maybin could to fill a need for the Raiders which is beyond the personal and the personnel.    

When the Raiders drafted Darren McFadden with the No. 4 pick last season, several of the experts shook their heads and said that the Raiders didn't need a running back as much as they needed talented players at other positions. Mike Mayock, another expert, quickly pointed out that there is one thing every team needs: touchdowns.

The head shakes of the other experts didn't exactly become nods, but the truth in that statement was undeniable, the Raiders had a need which transcended position, scheme, or character.     

This year, what Oakland might need more than anything is a face for their defense.  Nnamdi Asomugha may be the best cornerback in the league, but opposing teams have simply avoided him the last two seasons.

The Raiders need a player on defense who is unavoidable. They need a name which strikes fear into their opponents.  When the great defenses of the NFL take the field, announcers say, "Ray Lewis and the Ravens defense...," "James Harrison and the Steelers...," or "the Chargers defense, led by Shawn Merriman...," et al.  

There's a guy in this year's draft whose name could become synonymous with the Raiders defense for many years; he's a square peg which can fit into a hole of any size and shape; he's a player who will, by ALL accounts, be available when the Raiders take their first pick in the 2009 draft.

That guy is Aaron Maybin.   

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