"A huge reach and not enough value"
—Larry Weisman, USA Today, commenting on the selection by the Raiders of Darrius Heyward-Bey. Weisman graded the Raiders an F for their 2009 Draft.
"Al Davis is borderline crazy"
—Matt Williamson, ESPN's Scouts Inc, commenting on the Al Davis-led 2009 Draft on ESPN's Dave Dameshek Podcast.
"To me this has bust written all over it"
—ESPN's Todd McShay on the selection of Heyward-Bey.
The above comments are but a mere sample of media views on the decisions taken by the Oakland Raiders at the 2009 NFL Draft.
We all witnessed the unanimous disbelief and wild disdain expressed by various media members (Mel Kiper Jr., Mike Mayock, Cris Carter, Tom Jackson, et AL) when the Raiders selected Ohio safety Michael Mitchell in the second round.
The disbelief quickly turned into outright condemnation from journalists and pundits alike as they struggled to find any information on the aforementioned Mitchell.
But was this criticism inspired by ignorance, as the so-called experts failed to take notice of Mitchell? We now know that the Chicago Bears would have selected him a few picks later.
Journalistic integrity was in short supply in Radio City Music Hall that evening.
The new additions to the Oakland Raiders have much to prove. Both the NFL and the sports media are expecting little and waiting for failure.
But have the Raiders uncovered some hidden gems from their new assembly of rookies?
We know Heyward-Bey is fast. He also played in a pro-style offense with as much emphasis on the run as the pass and with an average offensive line not helping matters
Raiders head coach Tom Cable described Heyward-Bey as the most "NFL-ready" of all the available wide receivers.
We know that Mitchell is a ferocious hitter and a tough run-stopper. He is also super-fast and lists the great Raider Jack Tatum as his idol.
Louis Murphy, the Raiders' third-round pick from Florida, went from last on Florida's wide receiver depth chart to a leading performer in the Gators' national championship success.
The media already are underestimating the Raiders. If the NFL does likewise, then Oakland will be ready to strike with what is now, in hindsight, an excellent group of hard-working young men, and a group of players with high football intelligence.
The maturity of Heyward-Bey can be summed up in the following quote attributed to the former Maryland standout:
"All I can do is worry about me and the efforts I put in to be the best player I can be."
Meanwhile, Mitchell's determination to prove himself is summed up by the following quote:
"Mel Kiper has his opinion, and I respect it. But what does it mean? My nine-year-old nephew can watch film and make an opinion.”
ESPN—get the humble pie ready.