Raiders contemplate numbers vs. production

The two big NFL Draft scouting services, National and Blesto, are usually pretty close in their scouting reports of prospects. But the Oakland Raiders would never know. They don't use either and rely on their own reports to make decisions on draft day.

The Raiders have long believed that measurables -- uncommon strength and explosion for linemen and sheer speed for skill position players -- far outweigh any other attributes.

They fell in line with that philosophy last season with the selection of Nebraska cornerback Fabian Washington in the first round and Houston corner Stanford Routt in the second.

Washington was the fastest corner at the NFL Scouting Combine, and Routt came with excellent size and a reputation as one of the bet track athletes in the NCAA.

Of course, their best rookie was linebacker Kirk Morrison -- a third-round pick whose skills were only above average but whose character and desire made him the team's leading tackler.

Oakland more often than not swings a draft day deal or two, and could do so again if a player they targeted is out of their reach at No. 7.

One player who appears to fall into to the Oakland mold is Texas safety Michael Huff. Huff, besides being a productive member of a national championship team, also posted a blistering 4.35 40-yard dash time at the scouting combine, something which made Davis and Co. take notice.

And while the Raiders historically don't take safeties in the first round -- their last one was Texas A&M flop Patrick Bates in the first round in 1993 -- Huff can play corner and in the nickel. He was also a fearsome kick blocker and could help on special teams.

NFL observers have long regarded Davis, with regard to the draft, as someone who believes in a team which looks good "coming off the bus."

Although the Raiders discourage their veteran scouting staff from speaking to the media, scout Jon Kingdon, in a question and answer feature on the club's website, admitted as much when he said, "We have certain size and speed requirements which eliminate a number of players right away," Kingdon said.

While it is Davis who makes the final call, he is big on soliciting input from his scouts and coaches.

"People have to understand Mr. Davis is like any other GM or personnel man -- he has the final say-so," Shell said. "But I will say this -- if there's somebody that I don't want, he won't take him. If I see somebody I like, I've go to sell him. I've got to sell it to the rest of the people that this guy is good for the organization."

The Raiders think of themselves as a team which will think outside the box in terms of talent. They have never belonged to a group scouting service, remaining staunchly independent.

But if it comes down to it, the Raiders will usually look at the holes on their roster and attempt to fill them rather than take the best available player who happens to play a position at which they don't need immediately help.


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