Why Al Davis' Brain Is The Key To Ted Thompson's Draft

Chris CoombsContributor IApril 18, 2010

ALAMEDA, CA - JANUARY 23:  Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis speaks during a news conference introducing new Raiders head coach Lane Kiffin on January 23, 2007 in Alameda, California. Kiffin, a 31 year-old offensive coordinator from the University of Southern California, was named as the new head coach to replace Art Shell who was fired after going 2-14 for the season.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

There's been a lot of talk, debate and disagreement in the press, blogosphere and other media about what the Packers will do with the 23rd pick in the NFL Draft.  Obviously debate stems from the fact that Green Bay could go in a number of different directions, (the most likely three being Offensive Lineman, Rush Linebacker and Defensive Back), but of course a lot of disagreement comes simply down to the fact that it's incredibly difficult to predict the prior 22 picks with any degree of accuracy.  However a few factors when put together, mean that to my mind, the brain of Al Davis - and what it concludes is best for the Silver and Black is so crucial to Ted Thompson's strategy...

Consider that the Raiders - a team with a plethora of needs to begin with - are slave to Davis' penchant for selecting physical specimens ahead of more NFL-ready prospects.  JaMarcus Russell can't hit an open guy from any sort of distance but hey he can throw the rock 50 yards whilst sitting down - he's a great player!  Darius Heyward-Bey may have hands of stone but he can outrun Usain Bolt backwards - he's a Hall-of-Famer!  In all seriousness though, their liking for athletes first and foremost is what makes this of interest to us here and with this in mind there are three players all arguably in positions of need I can see the Raiders taking with the 8th pick in the draft.  Below are the three scenarios I can see being most likely to happen and the repercussions of each with reference to Green Bay.

Scenario 1: Oakland selects Bruce Campbell, OT, Maryland

This to my mind is the most likely way that things will play out.  This is the biggest need that Oakland is likely to address in the draft and there are a number of first-round prospects.  Russell Okung will certainly have gone to the Redskins, but in my view it's a choice of Trent Williams and Bruce Campbell because after all they've had great combines right?

What does this mean for Green Bay?  Well as Campbell is a reach I suspect it'll mean that San Fran will jump to get Anthony Davis and thus the Packers will be left with the options of Charles Brown and Roger Saffold as the only viable LT prospects.  The other option is that they go for a 3-4 linebacker such as Jerry Hughes or Sergio Kindle.  All the noises out of Lambeau seem to indicate that Thompson's leaning away from taking a lineman at 23 and with Brown and Saffold being slight reaches at 23 I think they would go pass-rush in this situation.

Scenario 2: Oakland selects Jason Pierre-Paul, DE/OLB, South Florida

Another workout warrior for Al would make things very interesting in terms of a knock-on effect in the draft.  JPP is pencilled in by many as going to the Dolphins at #12 but if he's gone then Miami could quite plausibly reach for a Sergio Kindle or a Jerry Hughes.  What then of the Pack?  Well it would mean that with with New England also in the market for a 3-4 rusher, TT may not like any of the guys for value at 23 - there are as mentioned a couple of OT prospects and also plenty of DBs to choose from...the class is also deep at rusher with the likes of Koa Misi, Ricky Sapp and Jason Worilds all probably high second round picks.  With such a variety of options Thompson may well trade down but remember that one of Bruce Campbell or Anthony Davis is very likely available in this case, and if he likes either of them - and Davis would be hard to pass up on sheer talent - I think TT goes OT with whichever option is left.

Scenario 3: Oakland selects Taylor Mays, S/Athelete, USC

This may seems slightly left-field but it is a position of need for the Raiders and Mays tore up the combine - which automatically makes him a future Pro Bowler for Dark Lord Davis...

If this happens Ted will be jumping for joy, he'll be able to do what Ted loves to do...

Trade down.  Here's why. 

GB has needs in the secondary, O-line and pass-rush, the two defensive areas of the three are stacked in this year's class with a lot of very talented players of late-first/second round value.  If a trade were to be engineered along the same lines as last year's with the Patriots, then GB could conceivably fill all three areas in rounds 2-3 with players that may well be starter material/talent. 

I've seen Jared Veldheer mocked to our second round pick in a lot of places and I don't see him falling to the 55th pick in the draft, BUT if we had an earlier second round pick he could well come straight in as a protege for Clifton.  As mentioned rushers are available in the likes of Misi, Sapp and Worilds and any of those could feasibly fall to 55.  As to the third major area of need, the DB class is astonishingly deep at both S and CB and a pick in the third round at either area would not go amiss...

So with this in mind - and well done for reading all the way to the end - I'd like to know which other team's picks you feel will be most influential on Thompson's board...

To conclude - this could all be rubbish - mock drafts are notoriously based on little more than speculation and subjective individual views, but it does show that one unexpected reach - or indeed steal - can instantly change the fortune of a franchise.