Written by: Barry Lewis on April 23, 2011
The Oakland Raiders took a considerable step forward to competitiveness because of its ability to run the ball through RB Darren McFadden and Michael Bush which enabled them to an 8-8 season and competing into December for the AFC West title.
They scored 410 points on the season because of their running game which is significant when you considered that ranked 6th in the NFL and their top wideout was TE Zach Miller who was banged up in the 2nd half of the season.
The Raiders were the first team in NFL history to go undefeated in its own division and not make the playoffs in part because they failed to win any of its other conference games, including against Tennessee, Houston, and Jacksonville, as well as out-of-conference games against the lowly Arizona Cardinals and cross-town rival San Francisco 49’ers.
The Raiders were well prepared following this year because their crop of prospective free agents include All-Pro CB Nnamdi Asomugha, RT Langston Walker, OG Robert Gallery, C Samson Satele, TE Zach Miller and the continuing need for a #1 wideout. Additionally, the Raiders still need a franchise quarterback after the disasterous run with former #1 overall draft pick DeMarcus Russell.
The Raiders entered this draft without a 1st round draft pick after trading it to the New England Patriots in order to trade for DE Richard Seymour, who has received a contract extension. Its first pick was at pick 48 and they took the risk of trading up five spots in the 2nd round while giving up picks 113 and 181 while also receiving pick 130.
The Raiders drafted QB Colin Kaepernick with the 43rd pick in the draft. Immediately following Kaepenick’s selection was CB Ras-I Dowling who was widely considered fringe 1st round talent if he can avoid injury and would fill the need left by the soon-to-be-departed Asomugha. After Dowling, QB Christian Ponder was selected by the Redskins, DE Allen Bailey by the Buccaneers, WR Jonathan Baldwin by the Rams, and then TCU QB Andy Dalton by the Vikings.
The question that needs to be asked is this: Would have the Raiders been better served by staying at pick 48 and still getting Kaepernick, Ponder or Dalton or should have they taken Baldwin as their true #1 wideout or Dowling to replace Asomugha? Or just sit at pick 48 and draft an offensive lineman like OG Marcus Cannon or Ben Ijalana?
I think that the Raiders made the right trade but the wrong draft pick. I would have been all over Baldwin. They already have a starting quarterback in Jason Campbell and next year is going to be the year of the Quarterback in the 2012 NFL Draft. That would have been the year to go get your future franchise quarterback. They chose Kaepernick who is a fringe 2nd round draft pick that was considered a system quarterback with a big arm but has long ball accuracy issues.
The list of questionable draft picks continued in the 3rd round as they selected CB Demarcus VanDyke, who is a very fast corner with a history of poor tackling and has been described as a “raw talent”. He has been graded out on average as a late 4th/early 5th round selection.
In the 5th round, the Raiders drafted their next version of Willie Gault in ATH Ricardo Lockette. Lockette has never played collegiately. Let me state that again. Lockette has never played college football. Because he is a track star, his measurables are all off the charts.
The Raiders completed their draft by selecting OLB Adrian Moten, who is a potential sleeper and provides linebacker depth even though they are four strong at outside linebacker, and DT Trevis Turner, who should provide backup depth in another slot where they are four deep.
The Raiders have earned a draft grade of an F. The trade with the Vikings was unecessary and with that trade, they should have drafted Baldwin. There were plenty of other cornerbacks that they could have had in the 3rd round other than VanDyke and drafting an athlete (not a wideout) in Lockette is as risky as you can get. Potentially – this is a draft that will secure zero starters on their roster within three years and that is highly likely with the exception of possibly Kaepernick. They did not address the offensive line either by not drafting a single offensive lineman.