Oakland Raiders’ under-rated draft success
The Oakland Raiders have had a tough time over the past decade. In fact, they have the worst win-loss record in the NFL over that period (49-111), including an 0-16 season by the Detroit Lions. During this gloomy time in Raiders history, many pundits and social media prognosticators have claimed the cause a result of poor draft selections. Although it can be argued that Oakland’s first-round selections have been questionable (at best), it can also be reasoned that their selections in rounds two through seven have been better than even the most competitive teams.
First, to validate the dissenters, Oakland has undoubtedly failed on four first-round selections since 2005. The disastrous list includes Robert Gallery (#2, 2004), Fabian Washington (#23, 2005), JaMarcus Russell (#1, 2007), and Rolando McClain (#8, 2010). Gallery maintained his starting job throughout his seven-year tenure in Oakland, maximizing the extent of the positives. Washington managed five interceptions and one forced fumbled in three seasons with the Raiders. Russell also played three seasons and totaled 18 touchdowns, 23 interceptions, and completed a mediocre 52% of his passes. McClain didn’t disappoint as severely in regards to statistics, but certainly dissatisfied in impact-to-expectation ratio.
Moving on, as not to discredit all of the silver and black’s first-round picks, Sebastian Janikowski, Nnamdi Asomugha, and Darren McFadden were all selected before the end of round one. These three players would certainly be cornerstone starters on any team in the National Football League. In addition, although outside the aforementioned timeline, the Raiders also drafted Charles Woodson, Chester McGlockton, Tim Brown, Marcus Allen, Ray Guy, Jack Tatum, and Gene Upshaw with their first-round selections.
Listed by round are the most effective late-round draft choices by Oakland, and for comparison’s sake, the equivalent selection from the most successful team over the same time period, the New England Patriots. In initial research, the top 10 winningest teams were used, however, upon further investigation only one team was palpably necessary, further attesting the position.
Raiders: Brandon Myers, TE (#202, 2009). Newly established receiving target, who was traded to the New York Giants this off-season, was selected with the 202nd selection in 2009. This past season Myers led Oakland in catches (79) and receiving yards (806), and caught 4 touchdowns.
Patriots: Jake Ingram, C.
Raiders: Shane Lechler, P (#142, 2000). Arguably the most consistent and productive punter in the last 25 years, and currently holds the NFL record for highest career punting average (47.6).
Patriots: Marcus Cannon*, T
Raiders: Jacoby Ford, WR (#108, 2010). Although injured in 2012, Ford was dominant in the kick return game in his first two seasons. Returned three kickoffs for touchdowns in 2011 (second all-time) and has amassed over 1,600 return yards and averages 25.3 yards per return.
Patriots: Dave Stachelski*, TE.
Raiders: Tyvon Branch, S (#100, 2008). Could be the single most under-rated safety in the league today. Combined with six sacks and four interceptions, Branch has compiled over 100 tackles in three out of four years as a starter. In 2009 Branch had 124 tackles, leading all non-linebackers in the category.
Patriots: Jonathan Wilhite, CB
Raiders: Kirk Morrison, LB (#78, 2005). A solid starter at middle linebacker for five seasons, Morrison hovered around 100 tackles per season and pulled in seven interceptions before being shipped to Buffalo via Jacksonville.
Patriots: Ellis Hobbs*, CB
Raiders: Jared Veldheer, T (#69, 2010). Considered one of the best young talents at offensive tackle, Veldheer has yet to miss a game since being named the starter in week five of 2010. Surviving massive cuts to both the offensive and defensive side of the ball, Veldheer appears to have the full faith of Oakland’s new front office.
Patriots: Taylor Price, WR
Raiders: Stefen Wisniewski, C/G (#48, 2011). Nephew of Raiders All-Pro lineman Steve Wisniewski, Stefen is both versatile and talented. Similar to Veldheer, he managed to escape the extraordinary dismantle of the Raiders roster and solidify himself in the starting lineup. Had a major impact on an offensive line that in 2011, gave up only 25 sacks (3rd in the NFL) and had the seventh best rushing attack.
Patriots: Ras-I Dowling*, DB
Haven Barnes is an NFL writer for TPF and can be contacted at HBarnes@ThePenaltyFlagBlog.com