It's always a challenge to try to figure out what Al Davis will do in the draft. Conventional wisdom says the Raiders would take an offensive or defensive lineman with their first selection. Conventional wisdom and Al Davis are rarely used in the same sentence so let's think outside the box a bit.
Joe Haden is the clear-cut best player at his position available in the draft. He plays cornerback, a position Al Davis and most NFL executives value immensely. Cornerback, unlike o-line and d-line, is very shallow in this year's draft. Impact lineman will be available later on shutdown corners won't.
Here are some more reasons why Haden will be the pick:
1. Haden might be able to make a more immediate impact on the run defense than an upgrade at defensive tackle. Here's why. Not only does Haden play the run well, but with Nnamdi and himself able to lock up in man coverage they can confidently drop sure tackling Tyvon Branch into the box to stop the run.
2. Teams might actually be forced to throw Nnamdi's way and that can only mean good things for the Raiders.
3. With the success of Florida Gators in recent years, including the Raiders own fourth round steal Louis Murphy, Al will be confident in making the pick.
4. Vladimir Ducasse, Roger Saffold, Terrence Cody, Cam Thomas, Jared Veldheer, Tyson Alualu, LaMarr Houston, and John Jerry. These are all lineman who can make an immediate impact who will be available later on in the draft. Try to compile a list of cornerbacks that looks that impressive!
Joe Haden makes a ton of sense. A lot more than what I thought when first looking at things. He's an impact player with low-risk bust potential who make the Raiders better immediately and with the low success rate of recent first-round picks that in itself would make me one happy Raider fan.
This is an important draft. Let's hope Al gets it right. Let's hope that with the eighth pick in the draft the Oakland Raiders select Joe Haden, cornerback, University of Florida!