Predicting the Unpredictable
Al Davis has been called many things. Predictable isn’t one of them.
You might be able to predict his draft picks will be height, weight, speed guys, but can you predict which guy? Is also isn’t 100% of the time, demonstrated by Zach Miller selection in the second round.
There is a better chance of having a perfect NCAA Tournament Bracket than predicting Al Davis draft picks round one to seven.
With that said, I am going to highlight a few players that could be on the radar for the Raiders in the first round. In classic Al Davis style, he probably will not pick a single player on my list.
Bruce Campbell, OT
FOR: He has the height, weight, speed that Al Davis looks for in a player. His combine performance was very good across the board.
AGAINST: Al Davis hasn’t cared about speed out of offensive lineman in the past. Speed seems to matter more only from running backs, receivers and corners. Campbell is a third round prospect on tape by most accounts.
CONCLUSION: Al Davis has been known to reach, but considering Campbell’s performance on the field, he would look to be a reach at pick 20 and probably fits best at the top or middle of the second round. Even for Al Davis, this one is crazy. You wish you could rule it out completely, but with Al Davis, that is not possible.
Trent Williams, OT
FOR: His height, weight, speed is just as impressive if not more impressive than Campbell. He is also a legitimate first round prospect. He has excellent feet and moved very well which could make him a very good fit in the Raiders’ zone blocking scheme. It isn’t certain he will be available at eight and he could potentially even be drafted before Russell Okung.
AGAINST: Cable has stated in the past the zone blocking scheme allows the team to draft lineman later, allowing the Raiders to use this pick on a premium pass rusher or corner.
CONCLUSION: The lack of talent on the offensive line has been highlighted more or more the past two seasons under Cable’s watch. You better believe Cable will press hard to draft a lineman to shore up his group, but he might have a hard time fighting against Al Davis, unless he can get the entire draft room on his side.
Eric Berry, S
FOR: He has everything you look for in a safety. Measurables are generally good. Playmaker and hard-hitting guy Al Davis loves.
AGAINST: Lacks ideal height. The Raiders have stated they are happy with the four safeties on its roster. Tyvon Branch could be on the edge of stardom, Huff has seemingly turned a corner and Mitchell looked good in limited duty. Eugene has been a valuable player filling in for Huff and on special teams.
CONCLUSION: I don’t see how the Raiders could justify drafting a safety, unless they plan to convert one or more of their current safeties to cornerback.
Taylor Mays, S
FOR: Has everything you look for. He has the intangibles to go along with being a physical freak of nature.
AGAINST: Lacks instincts, but that hasn’t prevented Davis from drafting a player in the past. Still, the same argument remains in effect. Unless the Raiders convert a safety to corner or decide to use Mays as a nickel Linebacker / Will linebacker, it wouldn’t make much sense, but does it ever with Davis?
CONCLUSION: Never underestimate Davis need to draft the best physical specimen. Davis drafted Darren McFadden over Vernon Gholston, but that could be less about Gholston’s physical attributes and more about McFadden’s speed. Still, it doesn’t happen every time and safety probably isn’t on the radar for the Raiders first round pick.
Bryan Bulaga, OT
FOR: He has a nasty demeanor and the Raiders have missed that type of lineman. He has great game tape and all the needed height, weight, strength you need out of a lineman.
AGAINST: He may remind Davis or a short-armed OT named Robert Gallery. While Gallery has turned into a nice LG for the Raiders, you don’t want to waste a top 10 pick on a guard. He may not be agile enough for the zone-blocking system.
CONCLUSION: I think Bulaga could be an option, but he doesn’t seem to be a fit in the scheme and his short arms may scare the Raiders away as they do value guys with the right set of physical characteristics.
Jimmy Clausen, QB
FOR: A bold move to draft another quarterback just a few short years after drafting bust in waiting JaMarcus Russell. Davis loves bold moves and Clausen is the most NFL ready prospect in the draft at QB. He also has that ‘Raider attitude.’
AGAINST: Lacks a cannon arm, but still has a nice arm. The pick, would likely require Al Davis’ brain trust of Jon Kingdon, Tom Cable, Hue Jackson, Paul Hackett, and Ted Tollner to all be aboard and it could be tough to come to an agreement.
CONCLUSION: I didn’t put monetary compensation above, but it always is. Unless Davis is willing to cut JaMarcus and his $9 million base, the Raiders probably will not draft a QB in round one.
Tim Tebow, QB
FOR: Ideal leadership and that rare athlete that can transcend the norm. Al Davis loves being a visionary and drafting Tebow and making him into a quarterback weapon would entice him, even if the chances remain thin. Marc Trestman endorses him and Davis trusts Trestman to a certain degree. The Raiders coaches were impressed with his ability to read and react to defenses on the chalkboard. Hackett may feel like he can mold and shape Tebow and if Hackett is still in Davis’ good graces he may lean towards making a splash, as he always does.
AGAINST: Lacks ideal arm and mechanics need work. Not your typical Al Davis big armed, big boned, big everything QB. Same reasons apply here as did for Jimmy Clausen in regards to money and the Al Davis brain trust.
CONCLUSION: Very hard to rule him out, even in the first. If he is there in the second round, does it become a more realistic possibility? I believe so.
Jason Pierre-Paul, DE
FOR: Measurables are great. Has room to grow and be coached. A position Al Davis loves to draft. He is a legitimate top prospect, but with quite a bit of bust potential. Al Davis type of player.
AGAINST: Raiders are stacked at defensive end. Richard Seymour and Matt Shaughnessey are the starters. Trevor Scott may still play some end. Wimbley may also put his hand in the dirt occasionally.
CONCLUSION: If Seymour doesn’t sign long term, the Raiders would be in need of a pass-rusher. Pierre-Paul has room to learn behind the other ends. If I had to handicap the Raiders draft, Trent Williams is 1A, Pierre-Paul 1B.
Dan Williams, DT
FOR: The Raiders lack depth and solid talent at defensive tackle and it is one of the primary reason they have struggled against the run over the past seven seasons. Dan Williams fits the bill as a stout run defender to play opposite three-technique DT Tommy Kelly.
AGAINST: Williams may be a better fit in a 3-4 and there are 3-4 teams that covet him. Davis hasn’t drafted a DT in the first round since Darrell Russell, demonstrating that he may not favor “wasting” a premium pick on a non-premium position.
Rolando McClain, MLB
FOR: Kirk Morrison may be headed out of town and the Raiders only other option is Ricky Brown. While the Raiders enjoy plenty of options at outside linebacker they need a MLB that can compensate for lack of talent at DT.
AGAINST: McClain may remind the Raiders of Kirk Morrison, who they are obviously unhappy with. He isn’t a physical stud the Raiders would look for and Davis is more particular about defensive players having the correct physical traits.
CONCLUSION: I’d peg this as a need pick that gets a bump if Morrison signs elsewhere. The need may not be great enough to address with a player that isn’t spectacular.
Joe Haden, CB
FOR: Haden is good enough to play man and jam at the line and history suggests the Raiders could go cornerback. Asomugha’s contract is cost prohibitive for future years and that could lead to his trade. There is a premium on corners and Al Davis isn’t afraid to stock pile depth a position.
AGAINST: Lacks Al Davis speed. Drafting a corner this high would thrust the player into a starting or nickel role. This would mean either Chris Johnson or Stanford Routt would come off the bench or Asomugha would be traded at or before the draft. I don’t consider those things likely.
CONCLUSION: Very hard to rule out Haden, but there may be too many factors against selecting a corner this early. I feel sure the Raiders will select a corner or two in this draft, I am not certain it will happen this early.
Maurkice Pouncey, C/OG
FOR: The Raiders are in need of lineman, in general, and Pouncey is a safe pick if there ever was one. He will not command as much money considering his position and Al Davis is cutting costs this offseason. The Raiders line hasn’t been the same since Barrett Robbins went on a drug binge in Tijuana. Pouncey would provide the Raiders with needed versatility.
AGAINST: He isn’t at a NEED position and there may be a better tackle available. Al Davis may feel like it is a waste. It would be a reach considering his position.
CONCLUSION: Probably will not happen, but these types of centers are hard to come by and the Raiders have been in need of one for a long time. Raider Nation probably would prefer the safest possible pick in the draft and Pouncey might be it. No pick is truly safe, but Pouncey would likely supplant Satelle at center immediately and be a team leader.
One of the nice things about a draft as deep as this one, there will be good players at need positions available in the second or third round. Some of these players may, in a typical year, be first round picks. Raider Nation need not fret if the Raiders don’t draft an offensive or defensive tackle in the first round because there is plenty of talent available at those positions that can be drafted later.