Oakland Raiders draft grade: too soon to tell

NCAA FOOTBALL: NOV 08 Penn State at Iowa
Brandon Myers, the Raiders final pick, could be what makes this draft grade an A-

As you might have already heard from your local or national sports network, the Oakland Raiders didn’t fare too well over the weekend.  That’s a rather hasty rush to judgment since you never know how well a team has actually done in the draft until three years later.

So what should the criteria be when it comes to grading out a draft by an NFL team?  In three years, this draft will be judged by the value of all seven of these new players on the team at that time.  For now, it should be judged by what weaknesses the Raiders filled on their roster and the quality of players selected compared to what they could’ve (or should’ve) selected.

In three years, if all seven of these players are on the team filling important backup roles, you’d have to grade this draft as a solid ‘C’.  We don’t have that kind of time right now.

In three years, you can come back and tell me where I had my head at.  For now, I’m going to take a crack at this draft grading thing and hope that I don’t look too foolish in the process.

Pick #1 – Round #1, Pick #7: Darrius Heyward-Bey

I get that the Raiders didn’t have a receiver that made much of an impression last year.  What I don’t get is why they think that drafting another receiver with a first round pick is the answer to those woes.  Both Tom Cable and Al Davis know more about football than I do, so I’ll defer to them on this assessment, but not before I make my case.

JaMarcus Russell and the offensive line had more to do with the poor passing game than not having a stud wideout.  The Raiders brought in Jeff Garcia to help light a fire under Russell and Khalif Barnes and Erik Pears should help out on the line.  What really needs help is that sub-par run defense.

After saying over and over a dozen times on Saturday, let me just say it once more: B.J. Raji!  I would’ve settled for an offensive tackle or center as well, but Raji should’ve been the pick here.  Even if Heyward-Bey turns out to be that stud wideout the Raiders need, having a bottom-ranked run defense will ensure another losing season.

GRADE – C (they probably do need a stud wideout)

Pick #2 – Round #2, Pick #47: Mike Mitchell

After losing Gibril Wilson and Rashad Baker, the Raiders definitely needed another safety.  Even so, they didn’t need to draft one that nobody knew anything about.  Again, I’ll defer to Cable and Davis on this one.

If Mitchell lights the NFL on fire, then he’ll go down as one of the Raiders great draft-day finds, i.e., Art Shell, Ray Guy, or Nnamdi Asomugha.  If he’s as good as his highlight video, then this is a great pick.  It also helps that the Chicago Bears were planning on selecting him two picks later.

Let’s hope that the creator of his highlight video isn’t Spike Lee.

Grade – B (I like his video)

Pick #3 – Round #3, Pick #71: Matt Shaughnessy

I think this pick has ‘bust’ written all over it.  No, it’s not a first round selection, but anybody you draft through the fourth round should be able to stick with the team for a few years.

Despite what I think about this pick, shouldn’t the Raiders worry more about the inside of the defensive line, rather than the outside?  Stopping the run does start from the middle.  I would’ve been more impressed if they had selected a linebacker – another position of need.

Shaughnessy looks a lot like Jay Richardson to me, and Richardson is no Derrick Burgess.  But what do I know?  Davis has been successful more times than not when selecting linemen, so I’ll back off.

I still think that OG Antoine Caldwell, who was selected by Houston six picks later, would have been a better pick here.

Grade – D

Pick #4 – Round #4, Pick #124: Louis Murphy

Finally a pick that I can get behind.  Murphy is a good receiver, but he was overshadowed by Percy Harvin and the spread offense at Florida.  This kid can run and catch, but he may need a little seasoning before he’s ready to be an NFL receiver.

Murphy also comes to the Raiders toting two National Championship rings.  One thing about winning teams, they undoubtedly are full of players who know how to win.  In other words, Murphy is a winner and that can only help the Raiders.

This is the pick of the draft in my opinion.

Grade – A

Pick #5 – Round #4, Pick #126: Slade Norris

While I like this player, had the pick been a round or two later, I would’ve loved it.  The thing that bothers me about this pick is that he’s either a defensive end, a position he started only one season, or he’s a linebacker.  The problem with him as a linebacker is that he wasn’t a starter at that position.

If the Raiders wanted a strong side linebacker, or even a big middle linebacker, then they could’ve looked right down to Berkeley at Zack Follett.  Follett was one of the best linebackers in all of college football last year, and to draft a player that was a pass-rushing defensive end for a season doesn’t make sense to me.

I still like the player, and the pick.  I just don’t like it enough.

Grade – C

Pick #6 – Round #6, Pick #199: Stryker Sulak

I absolutely love this pick.  The only thing bothering me about this pick is that the Raiders are still passing up defensive tackles and offensive linemen.

Sulak should be a force for the Raiders.  He had a great college career and he is a monster on the field.  We’ll have to wait and see how the Raiders use him and how well his skills relate to the NFL game, but this is the second-best pick of the Raiders’ draft.

Grade – A

Pick #7 – Round #6, Pick #202: Brandon Myers

This is a player that the Raiders probably need.  They definitely wanted him, by trading away next year’s sixth round pick and this year’s seventh in order to move up and take him.

Myers can catch in traffic, but the Raiders are bringing him in to be a blocking tight end.  With Zach Miller already taking most of the reps, and using an extra pick to take him, I’m left scratching my head and wondering why they needed him this badly.

I don’t like the pick, but I don’t dislike it either.  After the draft the Raiders have had, I’m pretty numb at this point.

Grade – C

For those who continue to say that the Raiders draft only who Al Davis says to draft, I think this one dispells that a little.  Sure, the Raiders picked some size, weight, speed guys, but there’s more to this than that.  Many of these players were leaders on their teams in college, and they are blue-collar guys like their new head coach.

Look at the last two drafts and compare them to this one – they are like night and day.  While I don’t love the Raiders draft for 2009, I do happen to like it.  We’ll see how much I like it this time next year, but for now it’s not as bad as many of the pundits are saying it is.

Overall Draft Grade – B-