There are many ways to approach the draft for NFL executives. One theory is to take players who played against the best collegiate competition and performed at a high level.
This theory, while seemingly well grounded, can be proven in actuality to be very flawed. The 2005 draft gives a shining example why.
In 2005 eight players from mid-major or small school programs were drafted in the first two rounds. Six of those players have made Pro Bowls including all three selected in the first round.
DeMarcus Ware (Troy) Roddy White (UAB), and Logan Mankins (Fresno St.) all yielded high returns on their teams' first round investments. Michael Roos (E. Washington), Nick Collins (Bethune-Cookman), and Vincent Jackson (N. Colorado) proved equally as valuable in being taken in the second round.
In the years since (2006-2009) many other small school gems have also made a big impact. Deangelo Williams, Greg Jennings, Tony Scheffler, Joe Staley, Eric Weddle, Ryan Clady, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Joe Flacco, Chris Johnson, Matt Forte, and Louis Delmas have all come out of non-BCS schools to become successful NFL players.
Unfortunately for us, my fellow Raider fans, none of these guys play for our team!
So as we look to the 2010 NFL Draft the questions beckons: Are there any players out there who can be added to this list? And more importantly, can we get one on our team?
While there are many small school sleepers in the draft this year, I think there are only seven who have the make-up to be considered first or second round picks. The one I like the most is Idaho guard Mike Iupati.
Iupati is the only player I have on the list who I think will definitely be a first rounder. He's a drive blocking machine who projects to have a long and successful career in the trenches. He could step in and help the Raiders immediately on the offensive line.
Unfortunately the Raiders pick eighth. Iupati will probably be taken somewhere between then and when the Raiders pick in the second round. If he were to be available in the second round however, I would say he should definitely be the choice.
The other six players who could be second round picks depending on how all-star games, the combine, and individual workouts turn out are Jerry Hughes and Daryl Washington of TCU, Ryan Matthews (Fresno St.), Kyle Wilson (Boise St.), Austen Lane (Murray St.), and Vladimir Ducasse (UMASS).
Matthews is going to be really good, but I think you'd agree running back is not a pressing need.
Wilson may not have the size to match up with the big receivers in the AFC West.
Austen Lane seems like a bit of a reach, despite the numbers he'll put up in workouts.
That leaves us our TCU linebackers, Hughes and Washington, and UMASS OG/OT Vladimir Ducasse.
I think any of these three players can be of great help to the Raiders.
Washington has the speed to play sideline to sideline and could be moved outside depending on what the Raiders do with all their free agent linebackers.
Hughes is a pass rushing machine and seems very capable of playing outside in a 4-3 or 3-4 defense. Once again depending on who is brought back Hughes could be a great fit.
Last but not least is Vladimir Ducasse. Vlad played left tackle most of his career in college, but will probably move to guard in the NFL. He's a big, physical specimen with a high motor who's only been playing the game for six years. Vlad could help immediately in the trenches.
I hope our Raiders consider, OK I hope Al considers, some of these players come draft time. Say what you will about Al, and trust me I do, some of these players will appeal to him.
By the way, in that 2005 NFL Draft, one of the two players who hasn't been to a Pro Bowl was Stanford Routt.
I guess no system is perfect!