So much for the Oakland Raiders rolling the dice on Miami running back Willis Mcgahee.
The Buffalo Bills made certain that scenario did not take place they took him with the No. 23 overall pick despite tearing multiple ligaments in his left knee Jan. 3, 2003, in the Fiesta Bowl. Mcgahee's status is uncertain but Raiders head coach Bill Callahan did not his interest in the Hurricane running back in a teleconference two weeks ago.
The Raiders, however, were leaned slightly on the defensive side with three picks going toward defense and two on offense. Oakland wrapped up the first round by selecting California safety Nnamdi Asomgha with the 31st pick and Colorado defensive end Tyler Brayton with the 32nd pick. With their second round choice, Oakland selected Stanford wide receiver Teyo Johnson. The Raiders received a compensatory pick from Houston at the No. 83 slot, where they selected Fresno State linebacker Sam Williams. Oakland chose USC running back Justin Fargas with the No. 96 overall selection.
The fact that Oakland had a defensive approach in the first round is not a surprise since the most pressing needs were on that side of the ball.
"We picked two defensive players that can come in and contribute," Callahan said. "At the same time, it gives us more youth."
Asomgha played both cornerback and safety but will likely play the latter of the two positions. He played as an 18-year-old true freshman before breaking his ankle in the eight game of the season. Asomgha started every game in 2000 and led the Bears in tackles. He missed two games in 2001 and started every game in 2002.
"He's a physical athlete," Callahan said. "He's an all-around athlete who has long arms and gives us what we are missing in Tory James."
James was released by the Raiders in a cost-cutting move and later signed with Cincinnati.
Brayton was essentially the draft pick Oakland acquired when trading coach Jon Gruden to Tampa Bay. Brayton played in every game as a redshirt freshman in 1999. He became a starter in 2001 and led the Buffaloes with 4 ½ sacks. He played played both tackle and end in 2002 on the way to achieving All-Big 12 honors and becoming the team's defensive MVP. Some draft touts have projected the 6-foot-6, 240-pounder as a tight end.
"He plays hard and has a great motor," Callahan said. "That's what makes him exciting to watch. We went through our mock drafts and came up with these guys time and time again."
Brayton grew up a Seattle Seahawks fan but added that fans can expect from him is "Attitude. Silver and Black attitude."
Johnson was a two-year letter-winner in both football and basketball but decided to bypass his final two seasons in both football and basketball to enter draft. Johnson has demonstrated big-play capability as evidenced by catching at least one touchdown pass in 14-of-23 games he played.
Williams was a backup who played special teams in 1999 and 2000. He started the last six games in 2001. Williams missed time in last season after suffering a separated shoulder against Oregon State but still registered 60 tackles, six for loss and one interception.
Fargas' father, Antonio, is an actor, and played the role of Huggy Bear in the 1970s TV series "Starsky and Hutch." Fargas transferred to USC from Michigan in 2001. Fargas achieved second-team All-Pac 10 honors and had an impressive showing at the Senior Bowl, which upgraded his stock.
The second day of the draft continues Sunday. Oakland has one pick in the fourth, fifth, and sixth rounds along with two in the seventh round.
Vince D'Adamo can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com
A slight defensive emphasis on Day One
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