The Oakland Raiders finished another disappointing season to go 11 seasons without a winning season. Entrenched in their mediocre run is one common theme, a less then spectacular draft class. Billed as one of the least talented teams in the league, the Silver and Black have paid a heavy price for their lack of success in properly evaluating talent in the draft.
Looking at the last decade, it’s difficult to find a draft class that doesn’t foretell the situation this once great franchise finds itself in. In the 2011 NFL Draft, the Raiders again found themselves without a first round pick after trading it away the season prior for Richard Seymour.
The 2011 draft bears significance in franchise history because it represents the very last draft with the late Al Davis at the helm. After sitting through the first round with itchy fingers, rumors circulate that Davis is hot on the heals of a very raw quarterback from Nevada named Colin Kaepernick. That was until one of Davis’ former coaches traded up to draft him.
Round 2: Stefen Wisniewski, C
Nephew of former Raiders great and Hall of Fame candidate Steve Wisniewski, the young Wisniewski has turned out to be one of the better picks over the past decade. Having broken into the first team as a guard in his first season, “Whiz” has settled into his original position at center. Centers often don’t get drafted this high, but seeing as how important they are in setting protections and coordinating the offensive line, this pick is justified in my mind.
Round 3: Demarcus Van Dyke, CB
Considered a very raw talent, Van Dyke was expected to be drafted in the latter rounds, but his top end speed baited Davis into reaching for him. At this point, Van Dyke is considered a complete bust and wasn’t even on the team in 2013.
Round 3: Joseph Barksdale, OT
The big tackle from LSU was seen as a raw but athletic talent. Like many other raw players with potential, Barksdale was a bust for the Raiders. Now playing in a backup spot with the Saint Louis Rams, Barkdale will be remembered as another one of Davis’ misses.
Round 4: Chimdi Chekwa, CB
Seen as a raw but speedy cover corner, Chekwa was drafted for his speed that hasn’t translated to success on the Gridiron. Currently serving as a backup and not considered to be much good, Chekwa may not make the team after the next training camp.
Round 4: Taiwan Jones, RB
Seen as a”boom or bust” type tailback, Jones has since been moved to play corner. Jones has stuck on the roster due to his talent as a gunner on Special Teams. His willingness to play where he is needed reflects his ability to add depth at several positions. A versatile player will always have a spot on NFL rosters.
Round 5: Denarius Moore, WR
In his first season Moore looked like a steal, but has since been inconsistent at the least. His thin frame means he is more injury prone, but his lack of Football IQ means he may never reach his potential. Since he wasn’t reached on, he represents a good value pick.
Round 6: Richard Gordon, TE
Gordon was drafted as a blocking tight end and that’s all he was. Never having the great hands needed to play at that position, Gordon struggled to be anything more than an extra blocker. Cut after training camp in 2013, Gordon falls in the bust category which isn’t uncommon for the sixth round.
Round 7: David Ausberry, WR
Drafted as a wide out, Ausberry was subsequently moved inside to play at the Tight End position. Ausberry struggled on his blocks and this limited the time he saw on the field. After training camp in 2013, Ausberry was finally set to have a breakout year, but he suffered an unfortunate season ending shoulder injury in a Pre-season game against the New Orleans Saints. The jury is still out on David, but still being on the team is a good sign.
Overall, the 2011 draft wasn’t a complete waste. It represents another draft without difference makers at the skill positions, and the misses on the two third round picks set the team back in terms of adding depth to the team. The results from this draft aren’t uncommon among the other draft classes in the decade. Inconspicuous by their absence, are Pro-Bowl caliber players.