According to the Kipers of the world, I should be posting about how I am a beaten man today. The draft is a holiday on my calendar, and that Grinch, Al Davis, stole the tree and all the presents for Raiders fans. The Raiders must be the stupidest team in the NFL, since they didn’t draft according to the experts boards, they reached, and passed up can’t miss players for boom or bust types. Yep, according to them, I should be here ready to turn in my Silver and Black.
I’m guessing if you have read this site before, you know what my answer to that is…
Sure I have been expounding on how teams need to maximize the value they get in the draft. Hell, I have spent hours on putting together a chart, and explaining that chart right here. But as a Raider fan, I had no expectation of the Raiders doing that in this years draft, I may be dumb, but I’m not stupid. Al hasn’t hired me yet, I’m sure things will be different once he brings me into the draft room.
So, all that out of the way, lets take a look at the Raider’s 1st day draft picks, I will talk value here, but there are some outside factors to take into consideration, which I will also try to address.
Round 1, Pick #7 – Darrius Heyward-Bey
Right off the bat, the Raiders are the laughing stock of the NFL. I was only watching the NFLN’s coverage, but have read more than enough about BSPN’s coverage. Heyward-Bey, with Crabtree and Macklin still on the board, what the fuck were the Raiders thinking.
From a Value perspective, the pick stinks. Bey was the 3rd ranked WR, I have a hard time believing that any other team would have selected him before 20. This is a classic trade down position if you are drafting for value. Raider apologists keep harping on the “fact” that there was no one to trade down with; Cable claimed in a press conference that the Raiders were reluctant to trade down, since there were teams trying to trade up ahead of the Raiders to grab Bey.
I’m not sure I am completely buying either claim. With all the teams needing an OT, I can’t see Monroe not having enough value to garner a 1 and a 3, but we’ll never know for sure since he went next. As for other teams looking to jump up for Bey? With everyone reportedly looking to trade down, this one is hard to swallow as well.
There was better value to be had, but it is hard to say just how much. The same factors preventing other teams from trading out of the top 10, also affected the Raiders. At some point you have to man up, and play the cards you have been dealt.
Now from a BPA perspective, it all depends on how you rank your board. I could care less who the Kiper’s of the world feel is the best player at any given position. Because, truth be told, they are wrong as often as they are right. Lets think back to some recent drafts, and how the players were ranked, or hyped:
Cutler was ranked behind Leinert and Young
Gallery was a 10 year lock at LT
Jones-Drew wasn’t mentioned in the same breath as Bush
Charles Rogers was ranked ahead of Andre Johnson
Mike Williams was a future HOF WR
I could go on and on, but I won’t. The “expert” rankings of guys like Kiper are great for adding a talking point to the coverage, and handing out instant grades afterwards. But in the end are meaningless. If these guys were really such great scouts, they would be working in the NFL. Instead they stay on the sidelines, with their bad hair, and one size fits all rankings.
One size fits all rankings, now there is an interesting point, glad I thought of it, and it fits what we are talking about to a T.
What do I mean by one size fits all rankings, that’s easy. Kiper comes up with his big board of prospects. Grades them, ranks them, and then rips teams that don’t select players where he sees them.
No consideration is given to scheme, personnel fit. Sure he looks at need, as in the Raiders need a WR, Crabtree is the best WR, the Raiders should take Crabtree. Doesn’t matter that what Crabtree’s skill set lends itself to is a short to intermediate control the ball through the air attack. Not what the Raiders run. In the world of one size fits all rankings, he is the best, so he is the best for the Raiders.
Thing is, the NFL is not a one size fits all league. If it were, there would be no free agent busts. DeAngelo Hall would look just as good in the Raiders man press, as he does in the Redskins off man/ zones.
So that all brings us back to the Raiders, every team ranks the players based on their scouting, their criteria and how they fit their scheme. There is no question that the Raiders had Bey ranked as the best WR on their board. He was the first WR taken in the draft. The Kiper’s will laugh it off as Davis’ fascination with the stop-watch rearing it’s ugly head again. But there are other factors that should be looked at.
Bey played in a pro-style offense at Maryland. He may not have had much pro level talent around him, but there are three key factors that separate him from Crabtree and Maclin.
1 – He blocked in the run game. Bey is given excellent marks in this regard. I have seen his blocking compared to Hines Ward in a couple places. In a run oriented system like the Raiders, this is invaluable.
2 – Playing in a pro style offense, he faced defenses similar to those he will see at the next level. No spread out defenses to be seen here, take away the #1 WR with rolled coverage, press at the line. The Texas Tech offense is designed to defeat this and take the defense out of its comfort zone. Bey did not get this advantage.
3 – Ran a complete pass tree, perhaps the most important of the three. Of the top WR’s, only Hicks in North Carolina can say the same. Bey spent most of his time running the deep stuff, but that is what the Raiders are going to ask him to do. The learning curve has been made significantly less daunting.
Add in that Bey is the ideal combination of Crabtree’s size (actually a little bigger) and Maclin’s speed (actually a little faster), and to just use the one size fits all rankings, and declare that the Raiders made a mistake selecting Bey, IMO, is in itself a reach.
So, while I swore at my TV when the Raiders selected Hayward-Bey at 7 instead of Monroe, Raji or even Orakpo or trading down, after I took a step back. I am satisfied with the pick, not my 1st choice, but as the draft unfolded I felt better and better about it.
So why did I come away feeling better about it. Easy, look at the WR’s available when the Raiders were back on the clock at 40. Mohamed Massaquoi was the best WR still on the board. I had WR ranked as the Raiders number 1 need coming into the draft. Had they come away with Massaquoi and Louis Murphy, I would be very pessimistic about the Raiders having the horses to get JaMarcus to the next level.
So that brings us to the 2nd round.
Right off the bat, the Raiders do the smart thing and trade down. If we take Cable’s press conference at face value, Mitchell was the pick, he was on the board at 40, but the Raiders read the tea leaves right, and got themselves some extra amo later in the draft. Just what this team needed. But at this point, I don’t know who the target is, I just feel better about having a couple more tickets to this year’s lottery.
Then the Raiders send the card up to the table and the announcement comes over the loud speaker:
Round 2, Pick #49 – Michael Mitchell, S
Queue the laugh track from the talking heads. Brick commences swearing at his TV, the lovely Mrs. Brick asks why I am watching this if I am just going to get angry.
God Damn, I knew that Mitchell was a classic Davis pick, he fits the Raiders hard hitting secondary image like a glove. I expected the Raiders to take a flyer on him at some point, but not this early. My slowly growing warm and fuzy feeling with Bey and the trade down for picks was squashed.
I fumed about this for a couple hours, then the reports started to come out. Mitchell claims that the Bears had told him that he would be their pick at 49. Funny, I had missed the fact that the Bears had traded out of their one 1st day spot shortly after the Raiders took Mitchell. But that was just a coincidence…right?
No, the Chicago tribune verifies Mitchell’s story. Holly shit, the Raiders did play this just right. They came within two picks of missing their target. They took the player they wanted at just about the optimum position. That is Value, screw the one size fits all charts, screw the talking heads (credit does go to Mayock for eating crow the next day). Rarely do you get this much info on the inside of the 2 day poker game that is the draft, but damn it feels good when you do, and you team just played their hand perfectly.
In the end, I have to say that I am pretty happy with the way the Raiders handled the 1st day of the draft, all things considered. Two players, who filled a need, fit the scheme and seem to have the work ethic that Cable craves.
Sure it sucks to listen to the callers on NFL radio blast the Raiders. Suck to listen to Adam Schein (well it always sucks to listen to Schein) give the Raiders a “G” since “F” is too high of a grade. But you know what, if there is anything that has proven true about the draft year after year. It is this; nobody knows how these teams did for sure for a couple years. Anyone who claims to know any different is a blowhard.
So for now, I welcome Heyward-Bey and Mitchell to the Silver and Black. Keep that chip on your shoulder, and use it to prove once again that the best use for Kiper’s head is holding up that strange hair, and that the hot air coming out of guys like Schein should be filling balloons for tourists somewhere, not polluting the otherwise outstanding NFL radio airwaves.