Mitchell pick a head-scratcher

The Raiders pulled another one out of their hat when they traded down in the second round and grabbed little-known safety Michael Mitchell, a player many people felt would be available on the second day but one who Oakland's brass believes can bring a physical presence to the team's secondary.

You had to look long and hard to find any kind of information on Mitchell, who wasn't even among the top 43 safeties coming out in the draft according to ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. Neither Pro Football Weekly's annual draft guide nor the Pro Sports Exchange website even had Mitchell listed at all.

Yet head coach Tom Cable insisted that Mitchell was the player Oakland had targeted all along, just as he did after the Raiders pulled a slight stunner and drafted wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey with their first pick.

"He's probably the most ferocious hitter in the draft," said Cable. "A very, very physical guy. And it just so happens he can fly. Another good pick for us. Helps us on the defensive side of the ball, and as I mentioned a month or five weeks ago, whatever it was, it was a great concern to us. It was good day so far."

The Raiders had an obvious need for safety help after releasing Gibril Wilson and seeing Rashad Baker signed with Philadelphia in the offseason. That left the team with just three safeties on the roster -- Michael Huff, Tyvon Branch and Hiram Eugene.

The expectations were that Oakland would go after either Chip Vaughn of Wake Forest or Nic Harris of Oklahoma both had interviewed with the Raiders and Vaughn held a private workout with the team.

Both were seen as guys who would likely last until late in the second or into the third round while Mitchell wasn't on anyone's draft radar. Everyone except for Al Davis, who apparently fell in love with Mitchell's 4.43 time in the 40 and his ability to be a physical presence in the box.

"I don't want to put too much pressure on the guy, but he has that Ronnie Lott, that Jack Tatum mentality," Cable said. "He literally knocks people out. Knocks the pile back, knocks runners backward, knocks receivers backward."

Mitchell wasn't even invited to the NFL's Scouting Combine and pulled a hamstring in Ohio's Pro Day workout. He bench-pressed 225 pounds 21 times and had a 37 ½-inch broad jump.

"You want Mike Mitchell, you take him in the fifth round, not the second round," Kiper said.

Cable, however, isn't worried what the experts are saying.

"We have a young player here in Tyvon Branch we really like and now it gives you two physical players," Cable said. "And really this guy maybe has a little more in him to go back and play in the middle if you needed it to. I think it just gives us a much sounder, tougher, stronger secondary. Obviously we feel good about our corners and this guy, like I said you're gonna love watching him play."

Wagaman's take: I'm still trying to figure this one out. Picking Heyward-Bey in the first round was puzzling enough simply because he would have been there 10-15 picks later. But Mitchell in the second round? Maybe they see something the rest of us don't. The guy has speed and can definitely lower the boom, as evidenced by his Youtube videos. But they said the same thing about Derrick Gibson and Michael Huff and neither one of those guys has ever made a big play yet. I won't rule out anything until I see the kid play but for right now, I'm still scratching my head over this one.

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