Al Davis

10 Bold Predictions for the NFL Draft

10. Al Davis will shake things up
Normally this wouldn’t be a bold prediction, but without a 1st-round pick Davis will have to get creative.  Perhaps he’ll trade into the 1st round in an effort to land Jason Campbell’s eventual replacement. Ryan Mallet certainly fits the mold of an Al Davis quarterback…

9. Two or fewer trades occur in 1st round
After this weekend, no one knows when the next time will be that teams will have opportunity to fill holes. This could be their only chance to address some needs before the free agency period – which may not be as active as we’re used to. Draft picks are more valuable than ever this year and most teams will be reluctant to part with them.

8. Patrick Peterson comes off the board within the first six picks
Most mock drafts have Peterson falling to the 49ers, but he won’t last that long (sorry Niners fans). Denver supposedly likes him. Buffalo is unpredictable, so who knows what they’ll do. Arizona could settle for him. Dallas could trade up. And if all else fails, the Browns will snatch him up at No. 6.

7.  Mark Herzlich has a looooong wait in Radio City Music Hall
Herzlich is one of the 25 players attending the draft, and while the cancer survivor will get a great ovation when he is finally selected, he’s going to be waiting awhile. He clearly lost a step after returning to the field this past year, and he is unlikely to come off the board with in the first three rounds. 

6. Three receivers go in the 1st round
A.J. Green and Julio Jones will go in the top 10, but someone else will join them later in the 1st round.  The Rams could trade back and select some such as Titus Young or Jon Baldwin. The Falcons and Jets are two others possibly interested in a receiver in the late 1st.

5. Mark Ingram falls to the late 1st… and possibly further
Running backs have such a short lifespan in the NFL and are so readily available in the middle rounds of the draft that teams are becoming increasingly less interested in spending high picks on them. Ingram is the consensus top available player at the position, but there are very few teams desperate to fill a hole at that position. If the Dolphins don’t take him at No. 15, he’ll fall into the 20s and possibly into the 2nd round.

4. The Jaguars shock us with their 1st round pick
It will be tough to top the Tyson Alualu selection, but GM Gene Smith will surprise us once again.  Maybe they decide to go for a quarterback? Mallett? Locker? Ponder? Or maybe they reach for a receiver? Titus Young? Torrey Smith?

3. Rumors of Da’Quan Bowers’ fall prove to be greatly overstated
Those screaming the loudest that Bowers knee is probably are probably the ones hoping he falls to them. I wouldn’t be shocked if he lands in Cleveland at No. 6 and I have a hard time seeing him fall further than No. 12 to the Vikings. Sorry Bucs fans, he’s not going be there at No. 20.

2. Jake Locker falls further than expected
Rumors have swirled that the Redskins may want him at No. 10. If I had to bet I’d say they do like him, but would prefer to wait until the 41st selection. Nothing he did on the field this year resembled a 1st-round pick, let alone a top-10 pick. Most teams love his talent – and it only takes one to make him a 1st-round pick – but he still has a 2nd or 3rd round grade on most draft boards. 

1. Only three quarterbacks will go in the 1st round
Despite rumors that as many as five signal callers could go in the top 32 picks, only three will actually come off the board – Newton, Gabbert and third (possibly to the Dolphins). Everyone else will wisely wait until the 2nd and 3rd round where less money will be on the line.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2011 NFL Draft Comments Off

2010 Draft Grades: Raiders

The only explanation I have for the Raiders draft is that no one told Al Davis it started on Thursday this year.

Rolando McClain doesn’t fill a glaring need, but he was arguably the best available player on the draft board. He’s a significant upgrade over Kirk Morrison, who was traded to Jacksonville before the draft was over. Given the other options available – most likely an offensive tackle – was clearly the right choice in my mind. McClain will have an instant impact and be an anchor on their defense for years to come.

Lamarr Houston was another uncharacteristically smart 2nd-round selection. He’ll likely be plugged into a starting role from day one. Another reason why I love the selection of Houston is because he’s a versatile lineman. Should the Raiders switch to a 3-4 in the near future, which many have speculated they will, Houston can easily shift outside to defensive end.

I have very mixed feeling about the selection of Jared Veldheer. Purely based on value I think it was a good selection. However, they’re desperate for a new left tackle and there will certainly be pressure to play Veldheer if he outperforms Mario Henderson in training camp (which won’t be hard to do).

And now we’re on the Al Davis portion of the draft…

After presumably showing up in the Raiders war room two days late, Al promptly selects the most athletic offensive lineman (Bruce Campbell) and the fast wide receiver from the combine (Jacoby Ford).

While it is a typical Al Davis pick, I really can’t criticize the selection of Campbell too much. He does have a ton of upside and he definitely had value in the 4th round. There will be no pressure to play him early on (unless Davis insists) and he can sit and learn and take the time to reach his full potential.

The Jacoby Ford selection, however, makes no sense. With the exception of Chaz Schilens, all the Raiders have are receivers who can stretch the field. Ford will just blend into the pack. Fortunately Davis didn’t force them to reach for him in the 2nd round.

Walter McFadden was a solid 5th-round pick. They really should have tried to land a cornerback earlier in the draft though, because McFadden will be forced to play early and often in the Raiders thin secondary. He’ll definitely be in the mix to win a starting job opposite Nnamdi Asomugha. Not because he deserves to though, just by default.

Travis Goethel doesn’t appear to fit in Oakland. They’re fairly deep at linebacker and he’ll struggle to make the squad unless he really stands out on special teams in training camp.

Jeremy Ware will be added to the rest of the dreck at cornerback in Oakland. Aside from Asomugha they don’t have a NFL-caliber cornerback, so if he impresses early on he could earn some playing time.

Stevie Brown was a nice 7th-round pick, but he’ll struggle to make the roster. The Raiders 2008 4th-round pick Tyvon Branch and 2009 2nd-round pick Mike Mitchell and strong safety. Both played reasonably well in 2009, making it unlikely that Brown will steal away any playing time.

Overall this was the best draft the Raiders have had in a few years. I’d love to know explanation behind their first few picks and why the typical Al Davis selections started popping up again in the 4th round. But whatever the reason, it worked. They landed a number of players who can make an immediate impact and a few other nice developmental prospects. The only major strike against them is their inability to find a left tackle or cornerback who can play immediately. McClain and Houston were safe picks – especially by the standard set by recent Raiders draft – but neither filled a significant area of need.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Draft Grades - 2010, Raiders 3 Comments

With the 8th pick in the 2010 NFL Draft the Raiders select…

The scouting combine is now complete, which means one thing: Al Davis has his pick ready to go.

Or at least he will whenever he gets around to reading the 40 times.

Its comical that an organization worth over three-quarters of a billion dollars could be run by such an incompetent individual. Yet every year Al Davis amazes us with his draft blunders.

He’s enamored by the biggest, strongest and fastest players with little regard for their actually ability on the football field. As a result, the scouting combine has essentially become a glorified tryout for the Raiders. The players who rate at the top of their position instantly shoot up Davis’ draft board. Which means that on March 3 we can already narrow down the Raiders potential targets in the 1st round to three names…

2010 NFL Combine - Day Three

Jason Pierre-Paul works out at the combine

3. Bruce Campbell
Watch Campbell at the combine, and he looks like a top-10 pick. Watch him on film, and he looks like a 4th-rounder. That can only mean one thing: Al Davis will love him. Its hard to imagine anyone selecting Campbell in the top seven, meaning he’s all but guaranteed to be on the board for Davis at No. 8. Couple Campbell’s combine performance with the fact that the Raiders are desperate for an upgrade over Mario Henderson at left tackle, and you have the perfect scenario for another Raiders draft debacle.

2. Jason Pierre-Paul
Unlike Campbell, I don’t think this pick would be an unmitigated disaster. The Raiders have done a nice job developing defensive talent in recent years, and Pierre-Paul may have the highest ceiling of any defensive lineman in this year’s draft. His size/speed combination is unmatched by any other defensive linemen in this year’s draft class and he would be an excellent compliment to Richard Seymour on Oakland’s defensive line. The downside to selecting JPP is that he is as raw as they come, with just one year of experience at the D-I level. But when has that ever stopped Al Davis?

1. Taylor Mays
I first matched Mays up with the Raiders in my first 2010 mock draft back in August. Knowing that the Raiders would be selecting in the top 10 and that Mays was sure to impress at the combine it seemed like a match made in heaven. The only thing that may discourage Davis from selecting Mays is the fact that he selected a similar player (in terms of raw physical ability) in the 2nd round last year in Michael Mitchell.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft, Raiders 1 Comment