The No. 1 reason why Raider Nation awaits NFL Draft 2008? (Aside from the general overwhelming malaise of football-less Sundays, that is.)
Easy: NFL Draft 2007.
Yet another admirable aspect to Oakland's performance in 2007 was the combined performance of the draft class, a sum total somewhere over zero, but not by much.
(Incidentally, it is truly mind-blowing that no one has come out and proclaimed this the greatest 4-12 team of all-time. Lots of folks over at ESPN and on the Raiders roster are missing an audacious opportunity here.)
What happened in that draft? Beyond seemingly no-brainer JaMarcus Russell and Zach Miller, a truly excellent grab at No. 38, the Raiders had probably the single worst short-term draft weekend of any team. On second thought, include Russell and Miller and the Raiders still panned out in notably ugly fashion.
A quick review of those drafted into the silver and black after the first two rounds last year:
Taken at No. 65, cut on Sept. 1. Along with much of Western Civilization, he eventually got playing time for the Miami Dolphins last season.
Played one game in 2007.
Johnnie Lee Higgins
Still on the roster, got some playing time in a handful of games last season.
Was placed on the Physical Unable to Perform list basically since draft weekend, and really since Week Two of his senior year at Louisville.
A token in the Randy Moss deal, Bowie got token time in two games.
OK, Richardson was actually a solid contributor in 2007 and looks to stick around. An astute choice at No. 138.
Taken at No. 165, cut on Sept. 1. Ended up in Minnesota, where, thanks in part to FOX, Wikipedia and the late Sean Taylor, he became most known for puking in public. (Kinda like Donovan McNabb in that respect.)
Got some playing time at fullback, could stick around.
Put on the IR in July, still listed on the Raider roster.
Whereas the Lane Kiffin/Al Davis head game goes on, what will truly make or break the Raiders way early into 2008 is the draft; this part of the game, like much of the front office, needs work.
And for those prone to cynical speculation, the bad news has already begun with those wonderful speculative mock drafts perpetuating online like rabbits in Australia.
Some hint that Oakland, sitting at fourth or fifth with an unfortunate coin flip, might find Darren McFadden irresistible, despite the wide availability of many a defensive lineman or offensive lineman.
Now, really, shouldn't Big Al & Co. refreshingly apply a little sanity with this choice? If Glenn Dorsey, Sedrick Ellis, Derrick Harvey, Chris Long, and/or Jake Long are available, don't you have to go with one of them for the short- and long-term good of the team? Just a little conservatism might be the right thing here, but look who we're talking about.
The first indication of this team's 2008 performance will arrive early, with those words "The Oakland Raiders select..."
Good luck to them on April 26-27 and throughout the season. Sometimes, though, intelligence is better than luck.
Still talking football just three days after the Super Bowl at RealFootball365.com.