Everyone has their theories on who the Raiders should take with the number eight pick, and with a number of acute areas of need on the team you would think that it wouldn’t be too hard to predict who will be the first player selected by Oakland.
If only it were that easy.
The draft is always unpredictable, and the Raiders the most unpredictable team of all. I got it right last year with Darrius Heyward Bey, and I have made good predictions before with Robert Gallery and Michael Huff. I was way off on Darren McFadden in 2008.
What adds to the difficulty this year is that after the first five or six players, there is no clear cut second in their group, and the picture gets rather hazy. One thing Al Davis can’t afford to do is to waste another top 10 pick. Right now we don’t have one next year, so we have to make this one count.
Whatever the Raiders press office put out, I don’t believe anyone in the organisation is happy with putting the franchise in the hands of JaMarcus Russell, and unless he improves significantly in terms of attitude and work ethic, he may be gone by opening day. That’s the way I read the tea leaves right now. If not, why the interest in McNabb?
Anyway, what that leaves is a possibility that the Raiders might draft a quarterback, and they have been rumoured to have significant interest in Tim Tebow over the last few weeks. Al likes to shock the world, and although Tebow is not seen by most as a first rounder, my jaw won’t hit the floor if he goes to us at number eight. I might scream and shout, but it wouldn’t shock me.
As for the likely wost/best scenarios, this is my take.
Dreams – Brian Bulaga – OT – Iowa. There is a possibility for Bulaga to be available at number eight, and he is in my opinion the perfect pick. He is a fantastic player at a desperately needed position, and is a complete system fit as he already plays in a zone blocking system. He is a great technician and student of the game.
Most mock drafts have Bulaga going to number five to the Chiefs, but I think that they will take Eric Berry. There will be good tackles in round two, but Berry is special at safety and that is where I think they will go. That may leave Bulaga to fall to the Raiders. Lets hope Al has forgiven the University of Iowa for Robert Gallery.
If Bulaga is gone, then I like Trent Williams from Oklahoma, he translates very well as a right tackle which is what we need.
Nightmare – Taylor Mays – S – USC. A physical phenomenon no doubt, but he is slow to read the game, has questionable ball skills (having had very few interceptions in his career), and misses too many tackles. Add to that the fact that safety is not a position of need on this team and you have my nightmare pick. The wrong player at the wrong position.
The only way I see Mays being a success in this league is to move to linebacker, but again, not an area of need on this team as he would play on the outside. Tyvon Branch played very well last year, Michael Huff is at last showing some production, and we have last year’s second rounder Mike Mitchell on the squad too. We don’t need another safety.
Reality – Bruce Campbell – OT – Maryland. This was a really tough call, and it is a prediction not a choice on my part. Like Taylor Mays, Campbell has exceptional physical ability for his size (6’7”, 315 lbs, 4.85 40, 34 reps on the bench, 36” arms) and is probably the best player in the draft in terms of sheer potential.
Unfortunately his game tape is average, he is extremely inconsistent, and has only started 17 games in his college career.
Although Campbell is my prediction, Joe Haden would also be a fair bet, as Al loves his corners. History would be against him selecting Rolando McClain, Davis only ever selected linebackers twice in the first round.
If it were my choice, and Trent Williams and Bulaga were gone, I would trade down and pick up quality players later in the draft. This is a deep one.
But here comes the draft, so hang onto your hats for another ride on the Al Davis roller coaster!