McFadden Headed To Silver and Black

NEW YORK — When Darren McFadden woke up Saturday morning, he wasn't sure if he'd be heading to the East Coast or the West Coast.

He had heard talk that the New York Jets wanted to draft him, but then he got word that the Oakland Raiders were interested as well.

Turns out, the 501 Boy will be heading to the 510.

The Raiders, always looking for a playmaker to excite their rabid fan base, wasted little time calling McFadden on Saturday afternoon and informing him that they were taking him with the fourth pick in the NFL Draft.

"I think I'll fit in great with them," McFadden said, sitting at a table inside Radio City Music Hall. "(Their fans) are like the SEC fans, Arkansas fans.

"We have fans that are very wild at Arkansas, and it's something I'm going to enjoy a whole lot (in Oakland)."

McFadden admitted he was nervous in the hours leading up to the draft, but he needed to wait only 20 minutes to hear NFL commissioner Roger Goodell call his name.

As the No. 4 pick, McFadden ties former Arkansas defensive tackle Dan Hampton as the highest drafted Razorback in the NFL's modern era. Hampton was taken by the Chicago Bears with the fourth pick in the 1979 draft.

At the same time, McFadden becomes the first former Arkansas player to be a top 5 pick since defensive end Billy Ray Smith Jr. went to the San Diego Chargers with the No. 5 pick in 1983.

"It feels great to be a Raider," McFadden said, wearing a white Raiders baseball cap to match his black suit. "Going out there, I want to help the offense out a whole lot."

With the addition of McFadden, Oakland will have a physical running back to complement former LSU quarterback JaMarcus Russell, the first pick in last year's draft.

There was some talk that the Raiders could pass on McFadden, deciding to go with a defensive linemen instead. But the chance to draft the two-time Heisman Trophy runner-up was too enticing, even if Oakland now has a crowded stable of running backs.

"I knew months ago that this was the guy that we had to have," Raiders coach Lane Kiffin said during a news conference. "And we had to figure out a way to get him."

McFadden was accompanied to Radio City Music Hall by a large gathering of family members, including his parents, who had both hoped their son would be able to play for a team near his hometown of Little Rock.

But neither parent seemed to mind letting McFadden head to the Bay Area, where he'll likely be immediately embraced by the Raider Nation.

"Oh yeah, they're going to fall in love with him," said Graylon McFadden, Darren's father. "They might not want to let him get back to Little Rock."

Coincidentally, Mini Muhammad, McFadden's mother, wore an outfit to the draft that matched the Raiders' colors of silver and black.

"Well, then I'm a Raider mom now," Muhammad said, smiling.

Around two hours after McFadden was drafted, fellow former Arkansas running back Felix Jones was taken by the Dallas Cowboys with the No. 22 pick.

The two friends became the first Razorbacks selected in the first round of the same draft since offensive guard Shawn Andrews and cornerback Ahmad Carroll were among the first 32 picks in 2004.

As the No. 4 pick, McFadden can expect to become an instant millionaire. Defensive end Gaines Adams, taken fourth by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in last year's draft, received $18.56 million guaranteed in his first contract.

But McFadden's bigger concern on Saturday was simply getting the draft process over with.

"It's just very nerve-racking. Your heart is beating 1,000 miles an hour," McFadden said. "It's just something you can't even explain in words, but it's just a great feeling to hear your name called."

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