I have always been fascinated by the NFL draft. As a little kid I remember watching Dr. Z, Paul Zimmerman, use his dry humor to predict what each team was going to do. He was funny and was the first to really break the draft down into what it is today.
Starting in 2000, I started to host a NFL draft party. The first rule was no girlfriends or wives, and that each person had to draft for their own team. We would keep our picks and our notes so the following years we could read what we wrote. We give out awards every year to the best and worst picks of the prior 3 years. I have kept a log full of notes and picks.
I don’t draft for need unless I feel the team is a player or two awayfrom being good. The Raiders have not been very close for the most part so I pick the best player possible. I went to several schools, andI’ve been going to Stanford and California games for years. I’m a huge Oklahoma Sooner fan from back in the day as well. Below are my picks over the years compared to the Raiders.
2000 Raiders pick: Sebastian Janikowski K Florida St.
Jim’s Pick: Shaun Alexander RB Alabama
2001 Raiders pick: Derrick Gibson DB Florida St.
Jim’s Pick: Kendrell Bell LB Georgia
2002 Raiders/Jim’s pick: Phillip Buchanon CB Miami Fla.; Napoleon Harris LB Northwestern
2003 Raiders pick: Nnamdi Asomugha CB California; Tyler Brayton DE Colorado
Jim’s Pick: Nnamdi Asomugha CB California; Boss Bailey LB Georgia
2004 Raiders pick: Robert Gallery T Iowa
Jim’s Pick: Larry Fitzgerald WR Pittsburgh
2005 Raiders pick: Fabian Washington S Nebraska
Jim’s Pick: Aaron Rodgers QB California
2006 Raiders pick: Michael Huff S Texas
Jim’s Pick: Matt Leinart QB USC
2007 Raiders pick: Jamarcus Russell QB LSU
Jim’s Pick: Calvin Johnson WR Georgia Tech
2008 Raiders/Jim’s Pick: Darren McFadden RB Arkansas
Jim’s Pick: Darren McFadden RB Arkansas
2009 Raiders Pick: Darrius Heyward-Bey WR Maryland
Jim’s Pick: Michael Crabtree WR Texas Tech
The main problem I’ve had with Mr. Davis draft picks is that he always felt the team was better than they really were. He seemed to be in denial like some who felt this team was close to winning when they were obviously not. When you lose 11 games in 7 straight seasons; and now haven’t had a winning season in 10 years; you lack talent in a big way.
I feel the NFL combines really ruined Mr. Davis. He became obsessed with DB’s 40 times in gym shorts and loved weight room junkies like Robert Gallery. Darius Heyward-Bey who was a ridiculous pick, gained his millions purely from his NFL combine 40 time. He was a nice college player but no way did he warrant that high of a pick. Gallery had a great college career but he became a legend due to his amazing NFL combine stats just like New York Jets bust Vernon Gholston.
I saw Larry Fitzgerald play several times and even with him being triple teamed, he still had huge games. Calvin Johnson was a man among boys. I would love them on the Raiders. And if I heard how far Jamarcus Russell could throw on his knees at the NFL combines one more time, I was going to lose it. They forget to show how he struggled mightily against pro style defenses like Auburn who made him look lost, as well as lacking accuracy. He made his money in his last bowl game against the 104th ranked defense of Notre Dame.
I hated the way the Raiders were constantly picking DB’s too. It failed miserably starting with Derrick Gibson. Only Asomugha lived up to the hype. Many feel to build a great defense, you have to have a great front seven. The key is to stop the run, and to rush the passer. The 49ers of today are built that way and so is Baltimore. If you have great DB’s but no pass rush, then it doesn’t matter who is in the secondary because they will get beat eventually. Champ Bailey was in an abyss of bad play by the front seven in Denver for five years. Until the pass rush and run defense improved, Bailey wasn’t much of a factor. DB’s are great, but the front 7 has to be the key to your defense.
I’m surely not perfect so let the jokes start here. Yes I picked Matt Leinart. I should have known the week after he was picked that he was a bust. The internet was full of photos of him slobbering drunk in clubs with even party girls laughing at him. His partying over his time in Arizona would make Marc Sanchez blush. He never worked hard enough and never made it. How though could my fellow Cal Bear alum Aaron Rodgers not be picked? I remember jumping up and down so happy when the Raiders were picking and thought for sure Rodgers was a Raider but Mr. Davis chose the fastest DB at the combines in Fabian Washington. A Nebraska CB who had great hands but had issues covering and was a part of a lackluster Cornhusker defense that struggled against the pass and gave up 70 points to Texas Tech his last year.
This year was no exception for me. I wasn’t happy with picking a CB when the Raiders were 31st in defensive sacks. I would rather get a pass rusher or at least shore up the defensive line or get an athletic LB.
Our draft parties have been so much fun. Unfortunately it has also been a time where I can tell my fellow Raider fans I told you so on all of the terrible picks from the previous years. I’m hoping with the new regime, that “I told you so” will be said over great draft pick decisions, and not head scratching mediocre to bad draft busts.