Symmetry in Oakland

A poll. A consensus. A dictatorship. This Raiders' draft class does not smell of Al Davis but a collection of opinions - which is why, in the early going, it gets high marks.

The Oakland Raiders arrived at the decision to select Michael Huff and the rest of the team's draft class in much the same manner they always have.

The opinions of all coaches and scouts are considered, and then Al Davis made the call.

It had been 12 years since coach Art Shell sat in on a Raiders draft. As hours went by, Shell realized that not much had changed where the Raiders were concerned.

It was a Davis operation then, a Davis operation now.

"He amazes me every time I am around him when you go through this process. The knowledge of all the players in this league and the recall of all the players that have gone through the draft, he is amazing," Shell said. "He can talk about a player we chose today and compare him to somebody who played in 1970 just like that, off the top of his head.

"He says, `Remember this guy?' And then you have to think for awhile. And he knows the name, the guy's wife's name, he knows everything. It is amazing."

When it was all over, Shell sounded much like a college recruiter -- never was heard a discouraging word.

The Raiders selected safety Huff in the first round, linebacker Thomas Howard in the second, offensive lineman Paul McQuistan in the third, linebacker Darnell Bing in the fourth, offensive lineman Kevin Boothe in the sixth, and center Chris Morris and Mr. Irrelevant, Larry Mahan, in the seventh.

Listening to Shell, it was as if the Raiders would have selected those seven players if the Raiders had the first seven picks.

"It's amazing how this thing has fallen," Shell said. "The people we have targeted have fallen to us. We'd hope someone would be there when we picked, we'd be sweating it a little bit, then we'd get the guy we wanted."

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