The jokes have been made. The losses have accumulated. The rapid deterioration of a once proud franchise has been witnessed by all.
From bad free agent moves, to head-scratching draft choices, to questionable head coaching decisions, the organization's shortcomings have piled up into a mess.
Yet there still might be a light at the end of the tunnel for Raider Nation.
Say what you want about JaMarcus Russell and Darrius Heyward-Bey, but the fact is that they are still very young and inexperienced.
Were we honestly expecting these two to come into the league and set the world on fire from the get-go?
These are two young men that possess a great deal of talent but are also extremely raw. Their games need refinement and they need to grow and learn about what it takes to succeed in the NFL as a player.
The light hasn’t come on yet, and it may never come on, but let's at least give them a fair shake before we throw them to the side.
QB and WR are two of the hardest positions to come in and be successful at right away, especially for a bad team.
The Raiders have chosen these cards to play, and to give up on them now would be foolish.
In time, I believe that these two can be a solid foundation for a franchise on the way up. Because let's face it, things can’t get much worse.
It’s better for Russell and Heyward-Bey to take their lumps early and learn from them.
The fact is that no matter what anyone says, they can be successful pro players. They are going to need the talent around them though. This is a team game, and one single player can only be as successful as his counterparts.
That brings us to this year's draft and what the Raiders should do with the eighth pick in this year's draft.
Building a solid foundation through the draft is fundamentally key for this team. There is talent in Oakland, but that talent is also matched by some glaring holes on almost every level.
The top players on this team lack true complementary pieces. Kirk Morrison has no one outside of him, Richard Seymour has no true threat opposite him, and the same can be said for cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha.
These are all quality players and some of the best at their position, but they need accomplices to be the best they can be.
That is where Everson Griffen, the defensive end from USC, comes into play for the Raiders.
After the recent departure of Greg Ellis, there is now a hole to be filled and a need to give Seymour some help in the pass rush.
There may be no better pass rusher then Griffen in this year’s draft.
When Griffen is on his game, he can be scary and overwhelming. At 6'3" and 270-plus pounds, he is an athletic dynamo. Everson simply possesses a size-speed-strength combination that few are blessed with. He is somewhat of a rarity.
One of his main faults, however, is that he isn’t always consistently “on his game.” He does have a tendency to disappear and play down to his competition.
When the bright lights and big stage come calling, though, he comes to play. It’s hard to knock a player for performing his best on the biggest of stages (Ohio State, Notre Dame). You could say that it is troubling that he isn’t always consistent against lesser competition, but that can be the case for many players.
Yes, admittedly he did not live up the high expectations bestowed upon him when he arrived at USC. Nonetheless, to say he was a bust in his college campaign would be an unfair exaggeration
After his freshman season, when he earned Freshman All-American honors, the next two years were marred by inconsistency. He did the show the all-important “flashes” though.
He showed flashes that would make you believe that if he can reach his pinnacle, he can be the next Terrell Suggs. That would seem to be his apex as a pro player.
At his worst he will probably be merely a serviceable starter providing an occasional spark as a pass rush threat.
So the Raiders have to ask themselves if Everson Griffen is the best fit for them at the No. 8 position.
Some will make a case that offensive tackle should be the way to go. I for one believe Mario Henderson has potential. He is an athletically gifted young left tackle that will only benefit from the teachings of Tom Cable.
Would the Raiders prefer one of the tackles in this year's draft over Henderson?
Would it be Anthony Davis, who seems to be hell-bent on becoming this year's Andre Smith as the outcast of the draft?
Would it be Bruce Campbell, who for every eyebrow he raised with his workout at the combine has raised just as many with his lackluster game film?
If they did go defensive end, could they go with the talented but largely unproven one-year wonder Jason Pierre-Paul of South Florida?
Those three don’t make much sense to me. I look at Everson Griffen, and he seems to make sense for this organization.
There seems to be a consensus for who the top six (Sam Bradford, Ndamukong Suh, Gerald McCoy, Russell Okung, Eric Berry, and Jimmy Clausen) will be to come off the board first, but after that no one is really sure.
Yes, the Everson Griffen pick would be second-guessed by some, if not many.
In the present draft culture there are so many self-appointed analysts and gurus that feel their steadfast opinions are valid and right. They probably will fail to see the logic in it.
Come draft day, it might not be such a shock to see Griffen so high though. Right now he would probably be valued as a mid to late first round pick.
He is a riser, and he is only going to continue to climb up the boards as the draft approaches. His potential and freakish abilities are too much to overlook.
It is those abilities that can bring tremendous value to this team. It can be another piece in the puzzle that many fail to see is actually coming together nicely.
I believe the nucleus is there; it just needs to be built upon and fortified. The blocks (Asomugha, Seymour, Morrison, Russell, Darren McFadden, Michael Bush, Heyward-Bey, Louis Murphy, Tommy Kelly, etc.) are there for a solid team to be built. The Raiders just need to stay strong in their convictions regardless of how many people want to bash them.
Al, let the so-called “experts” make their workout warrior jokes. You build a solid team, do what you feel is right, and have the last laugh in the years to come.
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