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Draft King Analysis
February 9, 2012
Lou Pickney, DraftKing.com

Reader feedback is always welcomed here on Draft King. Sound off with your thoughts on Twitter (@LouPickney) or via email at LouPickney@gmail.com.


Player evaluations can be a subjective thing as they relate to the NFL Draft. Some teams, like New England, can be very difficult to read, particularly since they tend to look at players who they think can best fit their system.

Moreover, the further you get from the top spot in any given NFL Draft, the more difficult it is to accurately project what will happen. I don't have a Round 2 mock on here in large part because so many trades take place there that, even if I was on the same page with what several different teams believe would be the best player available, it wouldn't necessarily provide me with a sufficient level of accuracy to make it worth my time to write about it or your time to read it.

The late Al Davis was derided in some circles as a meddling owner who was a wild card and difficult to read regarding the draft. I never met the man, and I can't speak about his meddling ways, but I found the Raiders to be very easy to read relative to most other teams. Davis valued freakish speed and size, and it made projecting what Oakland was going to do a rather easy task for me.

I don't mean to be braggadocious, but take a look at my success rate with the Raiders since I launched Draft King in 2003 (building toward the 2004 NFL Draft):

2004: Iowa OT Robert Gallery projected to Oakland at #2 overall (hit)
2005: Nebraska CB Fabian Washington projected to Oakland at #26 overall (hit)
2006: Texas QB Vince Young projected to Oakland at #7 overall, but he went to Tennessee at #3 and instead the Raiders drafted Texas FS Michael Huff (miss)
2007: LSU QB JaMarcus Russell projected to Oakland at #1 overall (hit)
2008: Arkansas RB Darren McFadden projected to Oakland at #4 overall (hit)
2009: Maryland WR Darrius Heyward-Bey projected to Oakland at #7 overall (hit)
2010: USF DE Jason Pierre-Paul projected to Oakland at #8 overall, but the Raiders instead selected Alabama ILB Rolando McClain (miss)
2011: First-round pick traded to New England for Richard Seymour

It looks like the box score from a game of Battleship, but five hits against two misses is probably my best mark overall for any one NFL team. And while it's generally easier to project accurately toward the top of the draft board, which is generally where Oakland was picking in the post-Jon Gruden era, I had a late-round pick hit in 2005 with Washington and then a huge shocker in 2009 hit with Heyward-Bey.

Most draft experts thought of Heyward-Bey as a second round prospect at best due to inexperience, but the Raiders didn't care how raw he was. Highlights of Heyward-Bey splitting double teams on deep routes had to have captured Davis' attention. There was considerable risk in me making that projection, since if Oakland hadn't drafted Heyward-Bey, he likely would have taken a Chutes and Ladders style tumble down the draft board. But, in that case, picking a long shot worked out for me.

Barring a trade, Oakland won't have a first-round selection in the 2012 NFL Draft thanks to the (lopsided) trade for Carson Palmer that cost the Raiders their 2012 first-rounder and their 2013 second-rounder that could upgrade to a first-round pick if the Raiders make it to the AFC Championship this upcoming season.

It won't be nearly as easy for me in the future with Davis having passed away and the Raiders now having a real general manager (Reggie McKenzie), whenever they finally have another first-round pick. A major sign that things have changed in Oakland came earlier today with the Raiders cutting CB Stanford Routt, a high second-round selection in 2005 who the team signed to a new three-year deal in February 2011 with $20 million guaranteed. Routt is a speed guy; he broke Deion Sanders' combine record in the 40 yard dash with a blistering 4.27 second performance.

Tomorrow on Draft King, a look at some players who, compared with other NFL Draft prognosticators and major NFL Draft related websites, I tend to value either more or less than the norm.


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