Raiders On Draft Day: Better Than You Think

jackson chesherContributor IDecember 13, 2009

OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 22:  Thomas Howard #53, Sam Williams #54 and Kirk Morrison #52 of the Oakland Raiders after making a stop against the Cincinnati Bengals at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on November 22, 2009 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The consensus around the league is that Oakland is awful on draft day.

That statement would be justified if you were to only look at the recent first rounders. 

They shocked the world when they drafted Darrius Heyward-Bey with the seventh overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft.  The move hasn't really worked out too well.  Heyward-Bey has only nine receptions this season and one touchdown.

In 2008 they drafted the sure thing by picking Darren McFadden with the number four overall pick.  Now in his second year, he has only rushed for 729 career yards and finds himself third on the depth chart behind Justin Fargas and Michael Bush.

In 2007 they had the number one overall pick and drafted JaMarcus Russell from LSU.  Russell has struggled big time and was benched Week 11 in favor of journeyman Bruce Gradkowski.

The Raiders had another Top-10 pick in 2006 and selected Michael Huff, a safety from Texas.  Huff hasn't quite lived up to his pick, but has come around this year.  Hopefully he will continue to progress like Nnamdi Asomugha has. Asomugha was a late bloomer too, after he was drafted in the first round in 2003.

Asomugha is now widely considered one of the best cover cornerbacks in the league.

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If you look at the Raiders 52-man roster you will see that 28 players (29 if you include Robert Gallery, who recently went on IR) were drafted by the team.  Twelve of those players are slated to start this week.

Most people will say, "Who cares? Oaklands terrible!"

Well, that's not all the players fault.  Head coach has been a revolving door.  They were stuck with a terrible QB for the first nine games, and when they made a change, Oakland seemed to turn it around.

Zach Miller, Justin Fargas, Nnamdi Asomugha, Kirk Morrison, and Robert Gallery have all proved themselves to be legitimate starters on any team in the league.  Gallery was once considered a bust, but has become one of the better guards in the league after making the switch from tackle.

Guys like Tyvon Branch, Trevor Scott, Chaz Schilens, Michael Bush, and Louis Murphy have very bright futures.  Trevor Scott has shined since his move to outside linebacker.  Chaz Schilens came on really strong at the end of last year, but was injured the first nine games of this season.  Branch, Bush, and Murphy have all shown flashes of greatness in their young careers as well.

Johnnie Lee Higgins, Matt Shaughnessy, Stanford Routt, and Jay Richardson have become dependable role players coming off the bench.  Thomas Howard and Sam Williams have made several starts at linebacker, they both need some polishing, but have made big plays in Oaktown.

Then there is the class of 2000 when the Raiders were criticized for taking two kickers.  One, Shane Lechler, is possibly the best at his position ever.  The other, Sebastian Janikowski has produced very well with the Raiders and has probably the strongest leg in the league.

So why does it seem like their drafts have been so terrible lately?

Because of guys like Fabian Washington, Phillip Buchanon, Napolean Harris, Derrick Gibson, John Bowie, guys that are gone.  The last three first rounders haven't helped our case either.  Those three players are young though, and still have potential (except maybe for Russell).

The Raiders have also signed several undrafted free agents out of college that have been very productive.  Tommy Kelly, Hiram Eugene, Isiaha Ekejiuba, Ricky Brown, and Nick Miller were all signed as rookie free agents.  All but Miller, who has been injured his whole rookie season, have contributed big time.

People in football love to focus on the negative when it comes to Oakland.  If they would overlook the flops they would see that the Raiders have scouted a lot of young talent in later rounds.  I personally hope we hold on to these guys and build from there.