The Raiders had a renaissance of sorts in 2010. A stellar draft class helped propel them to an 8-8 record and the first non-losing season since 2002.
The draft is nearly a national holiday for NFL fans, but for the Raider Nation it has become the national day of prayer. Praying and hoping Al Davis doesn’t do something completely crazy. Recent examples include drafting a quarterback with questionable work ethic and giving him $30 million guaranteed and drafting a raw and unproven receiver with questionable hands with the seventh overall selection.
It is Al Davis who calls all the shots on draft picks and his recent track record in recent years suggested the man may have lost touch with the modern NFL. Then came 2010, with what appears to be a great haul of picks including Rolando McClain, Lamarr Houston and Jacoby Ford. The Raiders also used picks to acquire Kamerion Wimbley and Jason Campbell.
Coach Davis, as new head coach Hue Jackson calls him, has just one glaring team need and a host of less significant ones. Will Davis reach for players with elite athletic ability or draft football players? Will he draft offensive lineman to give Jason Campbell a fighting chance?
The Raiders drafts are often a dichotomy between what is predictable and what is unpredictable. When given the choice between two similarly graded players, Davis will chose the faster one. While he may predictably target speed players he will also have a player or two graded absurdly higher than anyone expects making the Raiders draft picks wildly unpredictable.
What should Al Davis be looking to do in the 2011 NFL draft? Who might he have graded significantly higher than others? Allow me to examine each position group.
Third String: Open
With just one-year remaining on Jason Campbell’s contract, don’t be surprised if the Raiders consider drafting a quaterback to develop. There is a significant correlation between teams with new head coaches that draft a quarterback. Hue Jackson admitted during his pre-draft press conference he would love to add a young arm.
Colin Kaepernick’s quarterback coach of eight years is Roger Theder. Theder coached with Raiders offensive coordinator Al Saunders at Cal and was Jim Plunkett’s quarterback coach at Stanford. Kaepernick also has a big arm and the leadership qualities Hue Jackson requires. Based on all the smoke being blown around, the Raiders would have to move up to get the University of Nevada product.
Ryan Mallett. His off-the-field issues will scare the Raiders away with the JaMarcus Russell era just one year in their rearview mirror. It will not matter at all to the Raiders that he has a huge arm and a great football IQ. He’s one the Raiders will keep off their list.
Don’t be surprised if…
The Raiders trade up to get a quarterback early.