Draft season is upon us as free agency quiets down and prospect watch goes into overdrive. But the reality for us is that we’re not that involved in the College side of things, but that doesn’t mean we’re not fans of the draft.
For me though that means reflecting back on drafts gone by to tell you which teams made the best picks and which ones the worst. So as I do every year I’m grading every draft pick from 2009 through to 2011 on the PFF rating scale (-2 to +2), factoring in where they were drafted, injuries and a host of other things.
Up next? Well, we’re moving in draft order so it’s the Oakland Raiders
+2.0: You’ve just found Tom Brady in the 6th round
They’d be lucky …
+1.5: Getting much more than you bargained for!
They’d settle for one of these …
+1.0: The scouts nailed it!
Lamarr Houston, DE (44th overall pick in 2010): Even as a rookie it was clear the team had found something in Houston. His pass rushing performances were far from consistent but his generally good work against the run was encouraging. He’s only got better since then, amassing a +39.9 grade in 3,391 snaps. Simply amazing that the team was happy for his time as part of Raider Nation to come to an end.
Jared Veldheer, OT (70th overall pick in 2010): He would likely be higher but for an injury that effectively ruined his 2013 season. Veldheer, who for some reason spent part of his rookie season playing center, developed into one of the best young left tackles in the league, highlighted by his fantastic 2012.
+0.5: Never hurts to find a solid contributor
Matt Shaughnessy, DE (71st overall pick in 2009): Totaling 1,891 snaps in his four years with the club Shaughnessy proved himself a more than able starter. Sure he didn’t generate much pressure, but he was always good against the run in a way few other defensive ends can ever claim to be.
Brandon Myers, TE (202nd overall pick in 2009): Myers can’t block for toffee, but for a sixth rounder to contribute the way he did in the passing game represents a win for the team. Sure it’s largely on the back of a 2012 season where he picked up 806 yards and four touchdowns, but that’s not the usual return on a man selected 202nd overall.
Jacoby Ford, WR (109th overall pick in 2010): So Ford never developed into the biggest receiving threat in the league. He gets a positive because his return work was at times electrifying, and finding a difference maker in any phase of the game in the fourth is good business.
Stefen Wisniewski, OC (48th overall pick in 2011): Playing 3,061 snaps in three years Wisniewski has developed into an above average starting center. That’s a good return and you get the impression he’s only going to improve once the line has some continuity of selection.
Denarius Moore, WR (148th overall pick in 2011): Moore has been something of a disappointment since his rookie year, but that owes more to increased expectations and people tending to forget that he was drafted in the fifth round. Easily the team’s best selection at wide receiver in recent years (the competition wasn’t exactly fierce), 2,054 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns represent a good return.
0.0: It could have been worse
Louis Murphy, WR (124th overall pick in 2009): With the team short on wideout options, Murphy would prove a day one starter who would go onto play 1,708 snaps for the Raiders. Normally a fourth rounder with such credentials would be worth a positive, but Murphy (who earned a -17.1 grade during his team in Silver and Black) offered little.
Travis Goethel, LB (191st overall pick in 2010): Goethel might best be remembered for his long snapping escapades when asked to fill in, but he did also manage 103 snaps on defense and five special teams tackles.
Jeremy Ware, CB (216th overall pick in 2010): Lasted just 118 snaps with Oakland and while he didn’t embarrass himself he would go the way of many seventh rounders following that.
Stevie Brown, S (252nd overall pick in 2010): Went onto be successful in New York after a useful enough 163 snaps cameo as a rookie while also picking up 13 special teams tackles. Arguably would have been a positive if the team didn’t jettison him after year one.
Richard Gordon, TE (181st overall pick in 2011): Gordon was part of the Raiders plan to overhaul their tight end position in anticipation of possibly losing Zach Miller once his rookie contract expired. He was not the answer, and has managed just 138 snaps for the club. Still as a sixth round pick you take these chances and lose little if it doesn’t work out.
David Ausberry, TE (243rd overall pick in 2011): A collegiate wide receiver come NFL tight end he has flashed playmaking ability but has only got on the field for 142 snaps.
-0.5: That pick was not put to good use
Michael Mitchell, S (47th overall pick in 2009): Mitchell would go on to have success in Carolina, but his time in Oakland was far less productive. He never embarrassed himself in his 1,576 snaps but that simply isn’t a good enough return on a guy many saw as the reach of the 2009 draft. He would start just nine times for this team in four years.
Stryker Sulak, DE (199th overall pick in 2009): Never capable of living up to a name that should be worth a positive on its own. Unfortunately he was cut before the team even signed him to a contract, giving up on him weeks before preseason starter. That is a rarity in the NFL.
Bruce Campbell, OT (107th overall pick in 2010): Some saw him a potential first round player but his draft day slide kept going and going. Surely that chip on his shoulder would push him onto better things? Well it didn’t happen for him in Oakland as he failed to breakthrough, making just 19 snaps before he was traded away.
Walter McFadden, CB (139th overall pick in 2010): I’m a firm believer that a fifth round pick should be working his way into a roster spot for his sophomore season. McFadden did not and his 60 rookie snaps aren’t enough to convince me that he’s worth more.
Chimdi Chekwa, CB (113th overall pick in 2011): Still on the roster, he even managed 169 snaps in 2013. Unfortunately, he was abysmal (-6.4 grade) and has rarely looked like he belongs on the field.
Taiwan Jones, RB/ CB (125th overall pick in 2011): Never good when you’re asked to switch from offense to defense. Jones may have led the team in special teams tackles in 2013 and 2012 but a fourth round running back is expected to do more than that.
-1.0: What a waste!
Slade Norris, DE (126th overall pick in 2009): You won’t find many fourth round picks I give a -1.0 grade to, but Slade is one of them. That’s because most fourth round picks aren’t released before the start of their first regular season, and while he latched back on the practice squad it’s damning of the faith the team had in him that they’ve left him susceptible to waivers.
Rolando McClain, LB (8th overall pick in 2010): The sad thing about McClain is he wasn’t a bad player. Actually, if he was drafted a lot lower and expected to just be an early downs player he would likely have drawn rave reviews. However if you take a linebacker in the top 10 then you need a difference maker who can look comfortable whatever the offense does. McClain was not that guy and his off-the-field problems made this even worse.
DeMarcus Van Dyke, CB (81st overall pick in 2011): His forty time may have wowed but his play on the field did anything but. Van Dyke was put on the field for 329 snaps as a rookie before the team cut ties with this third rounder before the start of his second year with the team.
Joe Barksdale, OT (92nd overall pick in 2011): He may have gone on to develop into a starting caliber right tackle in St Louis but this former third round was cut at the start of his sophomore season after just 156 snaps with the team. Not ideal. Not ideal at all.
-1.5: The scouts/ coaches failed, big time!
Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR (7th overall pick in 2009): In his rookie year he would play less than fourth rounder Louis Murphy yet still manage to earn a grade nearly three times as bad (-14.8 receiving). His sophomore season wasn’t much better and while he did improve it was to nowhere near a level that this could be considered anything but a failed pick. “DHB” dropped too many balls (24 during his time with the team compared to 140 catches) and didn’t make anywhere near enough big plays. Picking at seven overall you should at the least be finding a better than average starter, not one who is way below.
-2.0: You just drafted the love child of JaMarcus Russell and Ryan Leaf!
The memory of JaMarcus lives on …
Here are links to the teams that have been through the Draft Grader to date:
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