As the 2010 NFL draft approaches, many Oakland Raiders fans find themselves wondering, "what is Al Davis going to do to mess things up this year?"
Darius Heyward-Bey and Darren McFadden are first round picks that have been criticized, but no one really knows if they are "busts" or not; it's too soon to tell. JaMarcus Russell, on the other hand...
Davis' late round choices have actually been pretty superb.
Louis Murphy, Michael Bush, Tyvon Branch and Trevor Scott were all late round picks that have been very productive and are proving to be really good players.
So, what are the best and worst case scenarios for the Raiders in the first round? What would be a decent pick that is neither great nor horrible?
One thing most Raider fans can agree on is the fact that the first round pick should be an offensive lineman or a defensive player that can improve the run defense.
Will this be the year Davis makes a great first round pick? Or, is he going to give the fans another reason to moan and throw their beer at the T.V.?
Let's take a look the best case, worst case, and good "Plan-B" choices.
It's not likely that Russell Okung will be available when the Raiders pick eighth overall. What is possible is that Trent Williams will be. It's not a guarantee, but it is a good possibility.
The Rams need a quarterback, the Lions and Buccaneers need defensive tackles, the Chiefs need a safety, the Seahawks need a defensive end or a running back and the Browns already have Joe Thomas.
The Redskins are almost certain to take Okung, and that should leave Williams available for Al Davis to pick.
If this scenario works out, the Raiders will have the left tackle they've been needing since Barry Sims left.
Trent Williams is the real deal and will anchor the line for whichever team drafts him for a decade or more.
Will it be the Raiders?
If Al Davis stays true to form, the eighth overall pick may be spent on Bruce Campbell.
A workout warrior and a combine star, Campbell is a great athlete; no one is denying that. What he's not is a great football player.
I watched about 30 minutes of tape on Campbell and found a myriad of problems.
He doesn't use his hands very well, he gets confused easily on twists and stunts by the defensive line, and does not work well at all in space or at the second level.
His footwork needs a lot of work. His slide-step is more like a stumble-step! This causes him to get beat in pass protection by quick defensive ends. He also struggles to recover on double moves and spin moves.
In short, guys like Dwight Freeney and Elvis Dumerville will tear him up on a regular basis.
Campbell has the physical tools, but he is a developmental project at best. The Raiders need a player in this year's draft that can produce right away. Campbell is not that guy.
If the best case scenario described in slide one fails to come true, Anthony Davis would be a good Plan B.
If Okung, Bulaga, and Williams are all off the board, taking Anthony Davis would not be a mistake at all. In fact, I'd say that Davis is a better overall prospect than Bulaga.
He is bigger, has much longer arms, his technique is more evolved, and his footwork is better. As a coach, I see more to like in Davis' game, than in Bulaga's. That's just an opinion though.
After watching an hour or so of tape on Anthony Davis, I can't point to one single moment that he made a glaring mistake or got beat badly. That is a great sign!
Davis is a first round talent with a lot of experience. He has all the skills, and his technique is polished. He has the ability to start right away and become a fixture on the offensive line of any team that takes him.
I look for Anthony to make an impact in the NFL.
Suh and McCoy will certainly be gone by the eighth pick. That leaves a choice between middle linebacker Rolando McClain and defensive tackle Dan Williams as defensive players worthy of being a top 10 pick.
Dan Williams would be my choice for several reasons.
McClain is a good player, but has fallen down my draft board after seeing a lot of tape of him taking plays off, merely jogging in pursuit and getting caught in the wash due to poor use of his hands.
I also think that a defensive tackle would make a more positive immediate impact on the Raiders.
Dan Williams has a "motor" that will not quit. Superior upper body strength balanced with a great instinct for the ball make Williams a great prospect.
I can see Williams fitting in well next to Tommy Kelly and wreaking havoc in opposing back fields.
If Al Davis continues to do what he's infamous for, the eighth overall pick might be used on Taylor Mays. This would be a colossal mistake for the Raiders.
Another one of those combine stars, Mays ran in the low 4.4 second range in his 40-yard dash. Unfortunately for Mays, there's more to football than speed.
The tape doesn't lie. Once Rey Maualuga, Brian Cushing, and Clay Matthews left the Trojans, Mays' production suffered greatly. Opposing quarterbacks weren't being pressured, the running game was working better and Mays' stats disappeared.
Taylor is stiff in the hips and terrible in man coverage on backs and tight ends. He only does two things really well: Hit, and run in a straight line. Plus, all of his big hits came on unsuspecting ball carriers.
When in the open field, Taylor's poor agility and bad fundamental football cause him to look pretty bad against even average running backs and wide receivers.
In short, almost every tight end in the NFL will get open on him, nearly every running back and wide receiver will juke him out of his shoes and take it to the house.
Add all of that to the emergence of Tyvon Branch, the re-emergence of Michael Huff, the promise shown by Mike Mitchell and the last defensive position of need for the Raiders is safety. Especially this safety.
Raider fans should count their blessings if Al Davis resists the urge to draft this drastically over-rated safety.
I know I've already pointed out what I don't like about Rolando McClain. Now let's talk about what I do like about him.
This guy has the football intellect to be the defensive play-caller in the NFL. He rarely misses tackles when presented an opportunity in the open field and is the prototypical size to be a middle linebacker in the NFL.
The "hustle" issues I mentioned in the Dan Williams slide can all be overcome. He only seems to "dog it" late in games that are already decided for the most part.
Getting chewed out by the veterans like Richard Seymour and defensive coordinator John Marshall should cure him of that pretty quick.
Even though I believe the Raiders would benefit more from an elite defensive tackle, taking Rolando McClain would not be a bad thing.
Ultimately, there is no way to know for sure which player is going to be the best choice for any team until they start playing in the league.
Hind sight is 20/20.
What's even harder to predict is what Al Davis will do with the Oakland Raiders' draft picks. Will he make another blunder like JaMarcus Russell? Or will he hit another home run like he was famous for in the 1970s and 1980s?
It's anyone's guess, but the answer is only three days away.
Will Raider Nation be ecstatic, despondent, or dumbfounded? Who knows? With Al Davis making the decisions, anything can happen and usually does!