Speed, speed, and more speed—such is the history of Raiders drafts.
This year, the draft had a different spin on speed though. The idea behind this year's draft was, "he's big, and he's fast, but more importantly, he's a team player who has a great attitude and works hard for every yard, tackle, or touch of the football."
It was more like an Al Davis draft, with a Tom Cable twist. Everyone expected Cable to want an offensive lineman to solidify the offseason acquisitions of C Samson Satele, OT Eric Pears, OT Kalif Barnes, and G Marcus Johnson.
Cable told everyone countless times leading up to the draft that they would pick players that they felt like they needed at positions they felt like they needed help at.
The most glaring position that everyone, including blind people, could see was WR. They addressed it right up front with the selection of the most controversial draft pick this year, Darrius Heyward-Bey.
This was obviously an Al Davis pick. Tom Cable said they knew who they were taking for a month before the draft, and were worried he wouldn't be there at 7. He was, and the Raiders received a boatload of critic responses.
Next came Ohio Bobcats safety Mike Mitchell, and thus, more criticism.
Mel Kiper, Jr. went so far to say Mitchell "was 73rd on his list of safeties," and that he "should've been an undrafted free agent."
The Bears and the Browns disagreed. The Bears were going to take him 49th, and when he wasn't there, they traded right out of the second round altogether.
It has been reported that the Browns were going to take him 3rd overall in the third round. This is definitely a Tom Cable pick.
This guy has immeasurable intangibles. He scoured the country to come up with this guy, and got him just in the nick of time.
Third came Matt Shaughnessy, a 6'5" 266 lbs DE from Wisconsin. Shaughnessy is the kind of player you could envision stepping out on the field in a leather helmet playing for George Halas. He earned All-Conference and All-Area accolades in each of his three final seasons, adding three more letters in basketball and two in track. Again a fast guy with smashmouth style. Cable's way of meeting Davis' criteria and providing his own team needs.
Louis Murphey was the 4th round pick. I think anyone could see this is Tom Cable's version of what a wide receiver should be. There couldn't have been much arguement here either as Murphey was a three year starter at Florida and a team captain with tremendous work ethic. He's a smooth route runner and projects as a solid No. 3 wideout. He's another speed player for the Raiders. They have Darrius Heyward-Bey for pure straight-line speed and Murphy gives them a good intermediate option.
Two picks later comes Slade Norris. One of seven Oregon State defensive players drafted this year. 6'2" 232 pounder who is expected to compete at SSLB. In college Norris played safety, LB, and DE. NFL.com says "Norris is a speed linebacker. He can play in space with his speed and he is another special teams demon. The Raiders have really built up their team speed in this draft." I don't know what they mean by "in this draft" but thats another discussion altogether. The point is that he is a team player with good special teams abilities if nothing else pans out. Team Player = Tom Cable, Speed = Al Davis.
Next was Stryker Sulak from Mizzou who had a lot of sacks in college and has a lot of speed (4.77-40, 4.58 shuttle). A tremendous DE prospect who flew under the radar in a Big 12 conference with a lot of big time offenses. Sulak is 6'5" and 251 pounds. He is a solid all-around athlete who competed in baseball, basketball and track at Rockdale High School and was a regional qualifier in the high jump in 2002. He is a very versitile athlete who could stand up and play LB as well. Versitility is something that was very common among all these picks.
Last but not least was a guy by the name of Brandon Myers, a TE out of Iowa. Brought in to be a suitable back-up to Zach Miller, and compete with current back-up Tony Stewart. Myers is more of a blocking tight end. He serves as an extra lineman more than as a pass catcher. Iowa does a great job of developing run-blocking tight ends. Myers should help the running game. he is also a great option in the red zone as he catch 5 TD's in just 21 catches as a junior. He also caught 4 TD's in his senior year, and is viewed by some as an ascending prospect. He is also very versitle as an athlete, competing on a prep basketball team that went 27-0 his senior year. He completed his prep basketball career with 2,198 points.
This draft was full of Al Davis' speedsters who could also do several other things on the field, and are tremendous assets to a team whether it be through their strengths as leaders or through their tremendous athleticism. All of these picks had versitility, team first attitude, and good heads on their shoulders. Al davis may have played his part in the draft, but Tom Cabe definately put on the finishing touches.