Given how few picks the Oakland Raiders have in the 2012 draft, it may be for the best that they instead reflect on the college talent they’ve picked up in recent memory. With that in mind, they’re the latest team to go through the Draft Grader.
That means we give each pick from the 2008 and 2010 draft classes a grade between +2.0 and -2.0 (in 0.5 increments) that depends upon:
• Where they were drafted
• Their performance
• Their contribution (how many snaps their team got out of them)
• Other factors such as unforeseen injuries and conditions that could not have been accounted for
Let’s take a look at how the Raiders drafted.
+2.0: You’ve just found Tom Brady in the 6th round
If they had, they wouldn’t have given up the first and conditional second for Carson Palmer.
+1.5: Getting much more than you bargained for!
+1.0: The scouts nailed it!
Tyvon Branch, S (100th overall pick in 2008): The versatile Branch got his opportunity to start in 2009 and hasn’t looked back, picking up twice as many snaps as anyone else from the 2008 draft class. Coming off his best year where he improved his run defense while expanding his responsibilities to play in the slot, helping the Raiders’ cope with a lack of cornerbacks.
Matt Shaughnessy, DE (71st overall pick in 2009): After a good rookie year, Shaughnessy really broke out with an extremely impressive 2010 campaign. A true every-down defensive end, it was his work in run defense (which earned him the fifth-highest grade of all defensive ends) that really stood out to us. A complete DE, only injury (which curtailed his 2011) has slowed him down.
Lamarr Houston, DE (44th overall pick in 2010): Great work in the second round to find a player like Houston, plug him in at DLE and watch him wreak havoc. While he may not be a stud pass rusher, his work in run defense is stellar, ranking fifth in 2011 of all 4-3 DE’s.
Jared Veldheer, T (69th overall pick in 2010): A tough rookie year (which involved playing at center at points) led into a real breakout sophomore season where Veldheer proved he could go up against some of the best pass rushers in the league and neutralize them. Sure he got an absolute roasting by Julius Peppers, but Veldheer looks the long term solution to the Raiders’ left tackles woes.
+0.5: Never hurts to find a solid contributor
Trevor Scott, DE (169th overall pick in 2008): After a five-sack rookie year, there was understandable excitement about Scott, though wise folks would have recognized that with just nine further hurries he wasn’t exactly generating an awful lot of pressure. Still Scott went onto get more pressure over the next two years and was actually at his most destructive when he only put in a one-sack 2010 that (because of his three hits and 19 hurries) earned him a positive grade. Coming back from injury in 2011, he didn’t look like the same player, but considering the production the Raiders got out of him, this was a win for them.
Chaz Schillens, WR (226th overall pick in 2008): Getting 1,386 snaps out of a seventh round pick over four years isn’t bad value. It’s just something of a shame Schillens always seemed to be battling injuries, but they got something from him.
Rolando McClain, LB (8th overall pick in 2010): You worry about him in coverage as he can get a bit lost, and there are some questionable off the field behaviors to concern yourself with, but McClain has made some plays for the Raiders. A good downhill player who is an effective blitzer at times, he’s not perfect but better than a lot of middle linebackers in this league.
Jacoby Ford, WR (108th overall pick in 2010): Yet to consistently show it as a receiver, Ford is the kind of kick returner that scares teams. Plenty of untapped upside to him, and he’s a unique weapon on offense because of what he can do on end arounds with a creative offensive play caller.
0.0: It could have been worse
Darren McFadden, RB (4th overall pick in 2008): McFadden is obviously extremely talented, but the Raiders just simply haven’t seen enough of him to warrant the fourth overall pick in the draft. Capable of changing a game, McFadden is the kind of back who can turn nothing into something with his breakaway speed.
Louis Murphy, WR (124th overall pick in2009): You can’t say Murphy hasn’t been given the opportunity to succeed, but he just hasn’t done a great job of taking it with both hands.
Brandon Myers, TE (202nd overall pick in 2009): More was asked of Myers in 2011, but his poor run blocking was something of a disappointment, only overshadowed by how much of a letdown Kevin Boss proved to be.
Walter McFadden, CB (138th overall pick in 2010): Looked lost on the field as a rookie (in just 50 snaps) and was then cut a year after being drafted.
Travis Goethel, LB (190th overall pick in 2010): Had an encouraging 90-snap rookie season, but missed all of 2011 after tearing a knee ligament. Tough break.
Jeremy Ware, CB (215th overall pick in 2010): Got on the field for 118 snaps as a rookie before being cut.
Stevie Brown, S (251st overall pick in 2010): 13 special teams tackles (as well as playing on defense) wasn’t enough to ensure Brown remained on the roster a year later.
-0.5: That pick was not put to good use
Arman Shields, WR (125th overall pick in 2008): After injury problems in college, the Raiders took a flyer on him on the back of a strong combine, but all they got was a season on Injured Reserve before cutting him.
Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR (7th overall pick in 2009): Viewed as a reach at the time, DHB had two terrible years as he struggled to cope with life in the NFL. He took a big step forward in 2011, but not enough to either make you forget the early struggles or suggest he’ll ever live up to being the seventh overall pick of any draft.
Michael Mitchell, S (47th overall pick in 2009): Some players look better the more they play, some don’t. Mitchell was viewed as a massive reach at the time and after surprising everyone with an effective 217-snap contribution as a rookie (where we gave him a +8.4 grade), he’s been exposed the more he played. This culminated with a -10.4 grade in 2011 with him nowhere near cracking the starting lineup.
Slade Norris, DE (126th overall pick in 2009): A former fourth round pick, he ended up making it onto the Raiders’ practice squad as a rookie after being cut and passing through waivers. You expect more than a tackle (and two assists) on special teams for a guy drafted where he was.
Stryker Sulak, DE (199th overall pick in 2009): Being the owner of a cool name doesn’t get him a bump on his grade in the same way it didn’t stop the Raiders not signing this sixth round pick.
Bruce Campbell, T (106th overall pick in 2010): No longer with the team after being traded away, we wonder if Campbell will remember his 10 snaps on offense in Oakland fondly.
-1.0: What a waste!
For all the criticism the Raiders get, none here.
-1.5: The scouts/ coaches failed, big time!
… nor any here.
-2.0: You just drafted the love child of Jamarcus Russell and Ryan Leaf!
The Raiders didn’t land themselves anything resembling Russell since they actually drafted Russell.
It’s kind of been fun over the years to laugh at the Raiders and their drafting. But it should be noted that while they haven’t done a particularly great job with their first round picks, they’ve managed to find a number of starters who have outperformed where they were drafted. Furthermore, you have to admire their ability to call a spade, a spade. While other teams are attached (in an almost egotistical fashion) to their draft picks, if Oakland doesn’t think the player is the best option for the club, they move on. Of course, a new regime may change that, but it should be noted Oakland hasn’t done nearly as bad as people like to make out.