NFL Draft 2008: Oakland Raider- Path to Glory or Road to Mediocrity

Nicholas WeissContributor IApril 14, 2008

 As the month of April hits its mid-point NFL teams across the country find themselves two weeks away from the mad circus we call the NFL Draft. In no other sport can a span of two days play such a gargantuan role in shaping the future of a franchise.


For many teams this event will determine whether their franchise goes from a 4-12 team to playoff contenders and possible Superbowl champs. One of these hopeful teams is the Oakland Raiders.


At the end of another lack-luster and drama filled season the Raiders found themselves with a 4-12 record that earned them the 4th overall pick in this upcoming draft. The 4th pick is the only day one pick the Raiders have after trading their second round pick to Atlanta for Pro-bowl corner DeAngelo Hall.


In total the Raiders have only four picks in this years draft, a first, fourth, sixth and seventh. Which poses the question, “Shouldn’t a 4-12 team, with only four picks, consider trading down and stockpiling?”


My answer is no.  Had this question been asked prior to the free agent signing period, of course my answer would be different, but I feel confident enough in the Raiders off-season acquisitions to say that they do not need to stockpile players in the upcoming draft to improve.


Players like DeAngelo Hall, Gabril Wilson, and Kalimba Edwards will improve an already formidable defense and wideouts Javon Walker and Drew Carter will help developing quarterback Jamarcus Russell and the rest of the Raiders find success in this upcoming season.


The Raiders have, in my opinion, taken steps in the right direction and do not need to trade away the 4th pick for more late round picks.


In my mock draft I have Miami taking Michigan tackle Jake Long first overall, St. Louis taking Virginia defensive end Chris Long, and Atlanta taking LSU defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey.


With these three players off the board, I strongly believe that Al Davis and the Oakland Raiders will have a tough decision to make between selecting the burner running back from Arkansas, Darren McFadden, and the beastly Ohio State defensive end, Vernon Gholston.


Darren McFadden is a two-time Heisman runner up and has blazing 4.3 speed, which we all know Al Davis loves, and a monster stiff arm. He is versatile being able to not only catch the football out of the backfield but throw it as well. He is only more impressive because he played in the best conference in the NCAA the SEC.


Some knocks on McFadden are his “character issues”, lower leg strength, and that he doesn’t fair well against contact. He has been compared to Reggie Bush, but not in the good way. Most say that he isn’t an every down back and also ran a “gimmick” offense at Arkansas.


Vernon Gholston is a physical specimen. He runs a 4.6 forty, put up 37 on the bench, and has a 42 inch vertical. He also recorded 13 sacks last season with the Ohio State Buckeyes. His knocks are that sometimes late in games he tends to disappear and some fear he may simply be this years “work out warrior”.


Now that I have broken down both player’s strengths and weaknesses who do I think the Raiders should select 4thoverall? Darren McFadden. McFadden’s speed and versatility push him over Gholston for me.


Gholston in my opinion is in fact a “work out warrior” he puts up big numbers in the gym and it doesn’t always translate to on the field. Also having that homerun threat in a running back is very important in the development in a young quarterback.


McFadden will greatly help take some of the pressure off Jamarcus Russell. For the critic’s that say he isn’t an every down back I respond with this, Maurice Jones-Drew!


This is a copy cat league and the trend for most teams is a dual running back core and Oaklandcan have that. Let’s not forget last years fourth round pick Michael Bush, Bush is a bruiser and before his injury was considered the top back in the nation.


Pairing him with McFadden recreates a tandem comparable to that of USC’s a few years ago in Lendale White and Reggie Bush which could prove to be a dangerous combination for the Raiders.


That said that is what I think should happen if the draft plays out the way it does, however according to what I hear, the St. Louis Rams seem to have interest in Vernon Gholston if they decide to take him that changes my opinion completely.

If St. Louis takes Gholston I still believe that Atlanta takes Dorsey which leaves Oakland in a very interesting and beneficial position with Chris Long on the board.


IT WOULD BE CRIMINAL for Oakland to pass on Chris Long. I firmly believe that Chris Long is the best defensive end in this draft. And come on besides the skill, combine numbers, and that "non-stop motor", you can’t tell me that Howie’s son returning to Oakland isn’t a great story!? It may be my bias or a dream but hey…I’m a Raiders fan and I can dream cant I? Until next time folks!