Committment to Excellence?

Certainly not in this year’s draft. One does not really need an SI analyst to point this out, but Austin Murphy has a great summary of Al Davis’ ( let’s not kid that there is any one but him making these final calls) escapades in New York this April:

Defenders of Davis — who will turn 80 in two months — say he’s crazy like a fox. And that is true — provided the fox is aging, compromised and semi-delusional.

Indeed, his selections the first two rounds of the draft should suggest just this:

  • 7th Pick: Darrius Heyward-Bey, Maryland. Let me first say that I have absolutely nothing against Heyward-Bey (expect maybe this). By all accounts he was a great guy with none of the “character flags” that draft analysts always warn of (though I’m not sure why the Raiders, of all teams, would be so concerned about this). Yet the Raiders passed up Michael Crabtree, a 2-time Biletnikoff Award winner who took his 3,127 career yards and 41 touchdowns across the Bay, and Mizzou’s Jeremy Maclin (2,315 and 22). Furthermore, DHB (who had a meager 609 yards and five touchdowns this past year) was not even the second best w ideout on the board from his conference, production-wise — UNC’s Hakeem Hicks doubled him in both categories in 2008. And even if the organization (i.e. Al Davis) loved Heyward-Bey (i.e. his 4.3 combine time), how can you justify paying top-10 money for a player projected to go about 20 picks below his selection? Why not trade down?
  • 47th Pick: Michael Mitchell, Ohio. Perhaps an even bigger reach. Here’s Murphy’s information on him:

“Mitchell was, by all accounts, a fine safety in the MAC: a hard-hitting, heads-up ballhawk — albeit one   who wasn’t even invited to the combine or any of the college all-star games. ESPN had no footage of him to air when Mitchell’s name was called for the 47th pick. NFL Network draft expert Mike Mayock took the Raiders apart, declaring Mitchell would have been available several rounds later, if not in free agency. “

Of course, I  could be wrong, along with the sports world. DHB could develop into a consistent and explosive receiver that catches Jamarcus Russell’s bombs for years to come (though his perceived success or failure will likely forever be measured by that of Crabtree) , and Mitchell could emerge as another Asomugha in the secondary. And must we recall the Silver and Black’s most recent attempts to address wide receiver (see Lelie, Ashley; Walker, Javon; Moss, Randy) and defensive back (Hall, DeAngelo) through free agency?

But Davis’ track record this decade in the draft speaks for itself  – you can’t look at Nhamdi without also remembering Michael Huff, Derrick Gibson, Phillip Buchannon, and Fabian Washington -and should be an indicator of things to come.

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