Over the past decade, the Oakland Raiders have become the least talented team in the NFL.
Evan Silva, the senior NFL editor for Rotoworld, had this to say about the 2013 Raiders:
This is my 8th year covering NFL, analyzing rosters. In that time span I've never seen a roster with less hope than the 2013 #Raiders.— Evan Silva (@evansilva) June 12, 2013
That's quite a statement from one of the most respected football minds in the media. Today, we'll take an in-depth look into what happened with Oakland for it to become the least talented team in the NFL.
A Loss in the Super Bowl
Let's rewind to the 2002 season. The Raiders finished the year 11-5, good enough for the AFC West divisional crown. Quarterback Rich Gannon won the MVP by leading the NFL with 4,689 passing yards and 618 passing attempts
They cruised to a 30-10 victory over the New York Jets before squeaking out a victory over the Tennessee Titans in the AFC Championship Game. Unfortunately, Oakland was blown out in Super Bowl XXXVII by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 48-21.
Despite the terrible loss, the Raiders boasted a strong roster led by Gannon, wide receivers Tim Brown and Jerry Rice and cornerback Charles Woodson. It appeared as if Oakland was going to be a team to be reckoned with for the foreseeable future.
However, the exact opposite happened. In the 10 seasons following the Super Bowl appearance, the Raiders have posted a regular season record of 49-111. They've gone through seven different coaches and haven't had a winning season over that time span.
The loss in Super Bowl XXXVII was the starting point to the long downfall of the Raiders.
Wasted Draft Picks
The only way a struggling team will get better is through the draft. After the Raiders lost the Super Bowl following the 2002 season, they went 4-12. Head coach Bill Callahan was fired and Oakland brought in offensive guru Norv Turner to get the team back on track.
Unfortunately, Turner never had the opportunity to be successful due to the organization's poor drafting. As you can see from the chart below, the Raiders struggled from 2003 and on to draft an impact player in the first round.
That many misses on high draft picks is simply unacceptable when attempting to rebuild a franchise. However, to truly show just how terrible the Raiders are at drafting, you only need to look at who was drafted directly after each pick Oakland made.
In 2004, the Raiders selected offensive tackle Robert Gallery. The Arizona Cardinals drafted wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald with the next pick. Cornerback Fabian Washington, quarterback JaMarcus Russell and linebacker Rolando McClain were followed by quarterback Aaron Rodgers, wide receiver Calvin Johnson and running back C.J. Spiller in the draft.
Had the Raiders drafted even one or two of the players picked directly after their pick, they could have turned the franchise around. Look at the turnaround the Indianapolis Colts had in a single year by drafting a franchise player like quarterback Andrew Luck.
With so many wasted draft picks, the Raiders have set themselves up for failure for a number of years.
As terrible as it is for a team to waste draft picks, they can at least become respectable if they can make some quality trades to keep them afloat.
The Raiders, unfortunately, haven't been able to do that. In fact, they've done the exact opposite, failing in every trade they've attempted over the past eight years. To make matters even worse, they've given up a ridiculous amount of draft picks in attempts to stop the bleeding.
As you can see from the chart above, every single major player they've traded for is no longer with the team. What's even worse is that every single player on that chart made little to no impact for the team while in Oakland.
By not hitting on any trades and throwing away countless draft picks, the Raiders basically set themselves up for complete failure.
Where Do They Sit Now
When you look at the roster for Oakland from top to bottom, it's easy to see the effects of poor drafting and even worse trading.
On offense, the Raiders will be relying on injury-prone running back Darren McFadden to lead the way. They once again traded for a quarterback, this time in Matt Flynn, who failed to beat out rookie quarterback Russell Wilson in Seattle last year.
Flynn already looks like a wasted trade, as fourth-round quarterback Tyler Wilson already looks better (h/t Steve Corkran of the Oakland Tribune):
Interesting hearing people out here talk about @Tyler_Wilson8 looking better than Matt Flynn. Have to agree so far.— Steve Corkran (@CorkOnTheNFL) May 28, 2013
On defense, their 2013 first-round pick, cornerback D.J. Hayden, might be the most talented player on the roster, and he hasn't even played a professional game yet. Overall, it's a roster that lacks talent and depth at nearly every position on the field.
The road to becoming the least talented team is a road the Oakland Raiders have been on for quite some time. Through wasted trades and draft picks, the Raiders have squandered the chance of becoming a competitive team.
They appear to be moving in the right direction now with GM Reggie McKenzie completely rebuilding the roster, but it will definitely take time. Unfortunately, this is a league where winning now is all that really matters and time is quickly running out in Oakland.