It was arguably the best draft in recent memory for the Oakland Raiders. After last year's debacle, most expected much of the same from Al Davis and company: prospects with size and speed, but with experience and maturity on the backburner.
And while the Raiders did not completely disregard the athletes and combine freaks in this draft, they did place a higher premium on experience, overall technical skill, and character.
Furthermore, Head Coach Tom Cable made it known that addressing team needs was a major factor this year, something else the Raiders aren't used to doing in the draft.
Most, not all, of the team's major needs were addressed. The primary focus was the defense, where the Raiders added some youth, talent, and depth to all three levels. On offense, the main issue was the line, and the Raiders helped themselves out by taking two young talents with high ceilings. Of course, the Raiders were perhaps the talk of the draft's final day when they traded for veteran quarterback Jason Campbell.
Here is a rundown of the Raiders' draft picks and how they might project come the start of the 2010 season:
MLB Rolando McClain (1st Round, 8th Overall)
The Raiders' first pick was a surprise for a couple reasons. One, even though the team was in somewhat of a need at middle linebacker, it probably wasn't in the top two or three of the list. Second, the McClain pick, unlike first round picks previous, made sense for the Raiders. It's no secret that the Raiders were looking to upgrade at middle linebacker, despite the presence of stalwart Kirk Morrison. McClain, however, is younger, smarter, and is far superior at working in traffic. In defense of Morrison, the defensive line didn't provide the best protection for him to work, but the coaching staff feels McClain's size and ability to disengage and move in traffic are an upgrade. McClain is a leader on the field and in the locker room, and that was a major selling point for Cable. As the middle linebacker is considered "the quarterback of the defense", Cable and Defensive Coordinator John Marshall are going to heavily rely upon their young backer.
DL Lamarr Houston (2nd Round, 44th Overall)
Houston finished his career at Texas as a defensive tackle, but he came in as a running back and began as a defensive end. That just goes to show you what kind of athlete the Raiders are getting in Houston. Surprisingly, despite the Raiders' lack of depth at defensive tackle, Cable said in his post draft news conference that Houston would start at strongside defensive end. Richard Seymour currently occupies that spot, but Cable also mentioned that the team would experiment with their defensive front. Houston is a big boy at 6-3, 305-lbs., but he still managed to run a 4.85 in the 40-yard dash. Considering the lack of depth on the defensive line, he will be pressed into early playing time, possibly beginning the season as the starter at end.
OT Jared Veldheer (3rd Round, 69th Overall)
After the Veldheer pick, many Raider fans might have been asking, "who?" But Veldheer's name was certainly not lost on Tom Cable and his staff. Veldheer first caught that staff's attention at the Texas vs. The Nation game, in which he impressed against elite competition. Veldheer played at Division II Hillsdale College, and according to Cable, it was important to see Veldheer in action against superior competition. At the NFL Combine, Veldheer was, according to Cable, the second most impressive offensive lineman, running a 5.09/40, putting up 32 repetitions on the bench press, and performing exceptionally in the drills. Veldheer is a giant at 6-8, 312-lbs. and is expected to compete for either tackle spot, but at the very least, be the third tackle on the depth chart.
OT Bruce Campbell (4th Round, 106th Overall)
Many expected Bruce Campbell to be a Raider after his ridiculous combine performance. Nobody expected the Raiders to take him in the fourth round. As previously mentioned, Jared Veldheer had the second best showing for offensive linemen at the combine, but it was Campbell who took top honors. Not only did Campbell run an all-time combine best 40-yard dash for an offensive lineman at 4.85 seconds, he also put up 34 repetitions on the bench press, performed well in the drills, and his arms reportedly measured an astounding 36" (the ideal length being around 34"). Still, most teams felt that Campbell's combine performance alone did not merit a first round pick, and the Raiders wisely agreed with the consensus. Campbell lacked experience, something the Raiders really focused on in this draft. The team stayed patient and was able to grab him in the fourth round—a steal. He might be raw and will need time to develop, but the fact that the Raiders took him in the fourth when most thought the team would take him in the first is a victory in itself. Campbell will begin at right guard and right tackle, but with his speed, might contribute on special teams as well.
WR Jacoby Ford (4th Round, 108th Overall)
The Raiders got this pick after trading veteran linebacker Kirk Morrison to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Ford has speed and then some—he clocked the fastest 40-yard dash time this year at 4.28 seconds. While he's undersized (5-9, 186-lbs.) and still raw as a receiver, he is a definite asset in the return game, where he will push incumbents Johnnie Lee Higgins, Nick Miller, and newcomer Yamon Figurs. Ford was often overshadowed by Clemson teammate C.J. Spiller, but the staff did their homework on him, and they felt like the team's return game needed a shot in the arm. Ford is definitely that.
CB Walter McFadden (5th Round, 138th Overall)
Cornerback was definitely a position of need for the Raiders, and the Raiders got a good one in McFadden. McFadden is a great value pick in the fifth round, as he should challenge Stanford Routt for the important third cornerback spot. With the Raiders' defense relying on their corner to play in press-man coverage, they get a guy who excels in that department. McFadden took some time to play up to his considerable skill, but once he got going, he established himself as one of the premiere corners in the SEC.
LB Travis Goethel (6th Round, 190th Overall)
Goethel is another great value pick as he is expected to be an immediate contributor on special teams. In keeping in line with Cable's preference for experienced players, Goethel started all 37 games in his final three seasons, as well as four starts as a freshman. Goethel can play both inside and outside, but according to Cable, he's a true inside linebacker so that's where he'll begin. Goethel is a relentless player who plays the game with great passion. He's the type of guy who will endear himself to a fanbase with his blue-collar approach and team-first mentality.
CB Jeremy Ware (7th Round, 215th Overall)
After transferring from South Carolina, Ware finally got going in his final two seasons at Michigan State. Ware definitely has NFL speed, posting a 4.37/40 at Michigan State's Pro Day. With McFadden, the Raiders will have four cornerbacks on the roster, but the team is hoping the Ware will impress on special teams and as a nickel corner. For a corner, Ware excels against the run, and that might help his cause with the Raiders.
S Steve Brown (7th Round, 251st Overall)
Brown will have some work to do to make the roster, but what might help his cause is his versatility: he played safety up until his senior year when he switched over to outside linebacker. For his efforts during his senior season, Brown was awarded as Michigan's top linebacker, so it will be interesting to see where the Raiders play Brown during mini camp and OTA's. Like Ware and other late round picks, Brown's best chance at earning a roster spot might be to excel in special teams.
2010 Raiders Draft Recap
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