The Oakland Raiders' Draft: A Different Perspective

SB ReportCorrespondent IIApril 27, 2009

COLLEGE PARK, MD - SEPTEMBER 13:  Receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey #8 of the Maryland Terrapins evades Eric Wicks #41 of the West Virginia Mountaineers after making a reception during the 1st quarter of the game on September 13, 2007 at Byrd Stadium in College Park, Maryland.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Each year before the commissioner announces the Raiders' top 10 pick, my stomach turns upside down.

I think, "Maybe this year they'll pick up the difference maker. The player that finally gets my Raiders on during the first 45 minutes of Sportscenter."

I'll never forget the pause after the commissioner said his first name: "With the seventh pick in the 2009 NFL draft, the Oakland Raiders select Darrius..." I'm sure it was less than a second before we got his last name, but it seemed like an hour. I was so sure they would take a lineman or the flashy Crabtree. Or maybe they would get a stud DT—a real run-stuffer like Raji.

Who the $%@#! has the first name Darrius?  Orakpo?

It was like my football life flashed before my eyes during that tiny little fragment in time. I couldn't believe it when the announcement had been made.

I was so embarrassed.

Over the next 10 minutes I put together all the scenarios where the Raiders could have picked the Crab and traded back into the first round to get Darrius Heyward-Bey.

Imagine that core to look forward to—Russell, McFadden, Bush, Crabtree, DHB, and Miller.

To be honest, I wanted Heyward-Bey, but why pay him at the seventh pick when he can be picked much later and paid much less?

With some of the guys that were left on the board, I have a very difficult time believing they could not have traded the pick and gotten him later. However, with such a premium on mid-to-late round picks, maybe it wasn't as easy as I imagine.

I'm sure the Ravens and Titans would have been all over this guy, and maybe even traded to get ahead of Oakland if Oakland had traded into the middle or end of the first round. Everyone would have known who Al Davis wanted with that pick.

After Oakland picked Mitchell in the second round and traded away from a great DT and first-round-worthy DE, I was sure the whole organization was taking Al's crazy pills.

When Chris Berman couldn't find the guys name in the ESPN draft book and no film was available on the guy, I reached my lowest point.

I've been a Raiders fan on the east coast my entire life.  People would always ask, "Why?" Now I found myself asking the same thing.

I kept imagining how the Patriots or Eagles would have acquired those same two guys. They would have gotten them both with much later picks and stockpiled another team's picks for next year's draft.

But this is where my tone changed.

Regardless of how they got them, take a look at the guys they got. Heyward-Bey and Mitchell appear to be two of the more freakishly athletic specimens in the draft. They both appear to be high-character guys and should have huge chips on their shoulder. They both were told on national television that they were a bust or did not even belong in the league.

Crabtree, on the other hand, probably already has a list of reasons why the 49ers haven't marketed him properly. "Did they not see how good I looked on TV Saturday?"

The Raiders don't need that.

Crabtree's posse even acted relieved that Oakland passed on him. Imagine those knuckleheads had he been a Raider and had the season gotten off to a rocky start—which isn't too far-fetched. He lost millions of dollars dropping in the draft and they were relieved. Very nice.

I don't want that guy, or his crew.

I'm sure every analyst will trash the Raiders for the next few days, weeks, and years. But I have a feeling Heyward-Bey and Mitchell are going to be very good players. I don't like how the Raiders got them, but I do like that they got them.

I'd rather have guys who feel like they need to earn their money than someone who already feels he's earned it.