Fighting through a stigma

When you attach words to a particluar player, they often come back and prove the doubters wrong. "Too slow" is fuel to prove that speed on a track doesn't mean a lot on the football field. Even for a team that is enamored with speed, Darnell Bing was an easy choice for the Oakland Raiders. He played at the highest level at USC and converting him to linebacker will use all of his skills. And Oakland has done well in picking up players who were considered on the done - players that are eager.

The late word on Southern California safety Darnell Bing was apparently he wasn't instinctive or mobile enough to be an NFL safety.

So through the first three rounds of the NFL Draft, Bing, originally thought to be a first-round possibility as a strong safety, was not selected.

The Raiders had those same beliefs, but they took Bing anyway. As a linebacker.

A team that has had immense difficulty over the past three seasons in the AFC West dealing with tight ends such as Antonio Gates of San Diego, Tony Gonzalez of Kansas City and anyone the Broncos line up outside a tackle -- not to mention running backs out of the backfield -- decided Bing may be of some help.

"He can play in the box. He's 227 (pounds) so he could easily add another 10 pounds without any problem," Raiders coach Art Shell said. "He can run. He can cover. Those are qualities a linebacker has to have, the ability to stand up in the box, take on tight ends. We've seen that. We'll see that he has an opportunity to do that for us."

Bing, who visited the Raiders prior to the draft, had a feeling he wouldn't be leaving the state to play as a pro. The 49ers were also interested.

"I had an idea I would be in the Bay Area. I wasn't too sure which team it would be," Bing said. "I talked to the coaches who worked me out with the Raiders and they really liked me a lot. I thought I would be in the Bay Area but I didn't know whether it would be the Raiders or Frisco."

Bing resisted the urge to think his draft status -- and that of Oakland's first-round choice Michael Huff -- swung on Texas' win over USC in the Rose Bowl.

"I don't really think that last game had anything to do with anything," Bing said. "I played well in the last game and he played well in the last game. If we had won I don't think it would have made any difference in the NFL draft. The way it happened was the way it happened."

SB Report Top Stories