Post-Combine Players Rising Up Oakland Raiders' Draft Board

David WilsonCorrespondent IMarch 3, 2010

LOS ANGELES - NOVEMBER 14:  Safety Taylor Mays #2 ofthe USC Trojans breaks up a pass in the end zone on the final play of the first half aganst the Stanford Cardinal on November 14, 2009 at the Los Angeles Coliseum in Los Angeles, California.  Stanford won 55-21.   (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Despite the fact that the NFL Scouting Combine is more about a players athletic ability and how they perform in shorts than actual on-field football ability, it can still have a dramatic effect on a players draft stock.

If you are Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis, who puts a premium on athletic ability above almost all else, then it can have an immense effect on how you grade players.

So which players did the most to rise up the Raiders draft board?

There were some excellent performances at this year's combine, but some players stood out by showing considerably better than their peers. Here are the players I think have most improved their chance of being drafted by the Raiders.

Bruce Campbell

The big offensive tackle from Maryland probably had the best combine of any player at any position. His god-like physique (6’6”, 310 lbs., 36.25” arms) are prototype left tackle material. To also run a 4.78 40 at that size was off the scale and really opened some eyes.

Campbell also showed well in the three-cone drill and 20-yard shuttle. He demonstrated that he is not just a straight line speed guy but had good short area quickness and change of direction ability as well.

Video Play Button
Videos you might like

The worry here is that Al will fall in love with Campbell’s measurables and ignore the fact that many scouts believe his game film is very average. While he might have limitless potential with those physical skills, Campbell has yet to translate that onto the field and actual play.

The fact that this is a huge need position means Al with look very closely at Campbell with that No. 8  pick. At best, he will take a couple of years to develop and is unlikely to be able to contribute right away.

The Raiders need a starting tackle on Week One.

Taylor Mays

The safety from USC was pretty much up there with Campbell for his combine performance. He was unofficially timed at 4.24 in the 40 (although officially timed at 4.43), which at 6’3”, 230lbs is an impressive feat. 

Strength wasn’t lacking either, with 24 reps on the bench press and a very athletic 41” vertical jump.

A while back, Mays was touted as going to Oakland in many mock drafts due to his freakish size/speed combination. I hope that Al remembers that he was decidedly average all week at the Senior Bowl, and safety is not a need position for Oakland.

It wouldn’t surprise me if Al drafted him as a linebacker though, and he may indeed fit that position very well in the pros. I just hope it isn’t at No. 8.

Jacoby Ford

You really knew that this one was coming. Jacoby Ford’s 4.28 40-yar- dash puts the Clemson wide receiver firmly on Oakland’s radar. He also caught the ball well (in shorts with no traffic) and was very fast out of his breaks when running routes.

I don’t see him as a consideration in the first two rounds, but Al goes nuts for this kind of speed. If Ford is still there in the third, he may well find himself an Oakland Raider.

Russell Okung

The Oklahoma State tackle has been widely considered the best offensive lineman in this year’s draft, and his showing at the combine cemented his place at the top of the list. I don’t think many scouts expected Okung to put up 38 reps on the bench. That showed not only his strength but also how much time he had spent in the weight room. 

His bench press numbers were even more impressive for a player with such long arms (36”).

Even though he pulled a muscle before completing all the tests, a sub-5.2 40-yard-dash showed he was as quick as advertised, and he should be the first offensive lineman off the board.

Jared Veldheer

Veldheer has been quietly rising up draft boards since the end of the season. Despite coming from a small school (Richmond), he impressed everyone at the Texas v. The Nation game (where he compared favourably to Bruce Campbell).

Veldheer continued to rise at the combine, where he headed all offensive linemen in the three-cone drill and the 20-yard shuttle, demonstrating impressive short area quickness. He also posted a 33” vertical jump (third) and 5.09 time over 40 yards. Thirty-two reps on the bench also showed above average strength.

At 6’8” and 312lbs, he has very impressive athletic ability. The concerns with Veldheer are lack of exposure to top competition and that his arms are quite short at 33”.  He still has a rare size/speed combination, and if the Raiders don’t take a tackle in the first round, they could well look at Veldheer in the second.

Trent Williams

Trent Williams showed surprising speed and athleticism for a 6’5”, 315 lb. offensive tackle. His 4.88 40 was second best for offensive linemen. I don’t think many scouts expected Williams to be that fast, and he also showed well in the 20-yard shuttle.

That kind of speed is first class for an NFL tackle and may well have moved him up a few places in the draft this year. 

I don’t mind us drafting great athletes this year, but we need athletes who can play football in Oakland. The Raiders simply can’t afford to waste this pick.

Since 2002, there have been a long list of Raider first round picks who haven’t lived up to expectations. This year, we need players who can contribute quickly at key positions. Fingers crossed for April 22.

slash iconYour sports. Delivered.

Enjoy our content? Join our newsletter to get the latest in sports news delivered straight to your inbox!