I think it goes without saying that the Oakland Raiders have not drafted well in the last decade. In Fact, since the early 90’s the Raiders have dropped the ball on more often than not. The last decade has been particularly miserable for Raider fans, and the failure to draft well has been at the root of the problem.
For a franchise that hasn’t won the Super Bowl in over 30 years, it is paramount that the next few years are full of draft success. It is always easier to focus on the misery, but it is important to be aware of the little success that has come. Lets take a look at the last 10 drafts (not including 2013) and figure out the five best players:
5. Stefen Wisniewski, C, Penn St, Round 2, 2011
Wisniewski or “Wiz” is a versatile interior offensive lineman. His ability to lineup at guard or center makes him very valuable to the Linemen group. Wiz had family ties to the Raiders as his uncle also lined up at guard for the Silver and Black. Wiz has played an integral part to the Raider offensive line and has started since day one.
4. Lamar Houston, DE, Texas, Round 2, 2010
The talented End, who could also line up in the interior of the line, was lost in Free Agency this off-season to the Chicago Bears. Houston’s body of work didn’t always show up in stat sheets, but his contribution to the defense against the run will be missed. His tenacity and motor was exemplary. He would have been an integral part to the rebuild.
3. Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas, Round 1, 2008
McFadden is, undoubtedly, the most electric player to don Silver and Black in a long time, but injuries took away from what could have been a Hall Of Fame career. McFadden is not necessarily a draft bust, but more of an unlucky and unfortunate star. It’s difficult to look past his injuries and we’re left wondering what could have been.
2. Nnamdi Asomugha, CB, California, Round 1, 2003
If not for the fact that teams always attacked other weaknesses on the Raiders’ defense, Nnamdi would have been a bigger star. His speed, man making, and intelligence allowed him to dominate opposing receivers for several years. Drafted after the last Super Bowl appearance, Nnamdi never played on a good team and his career was left unfulfilled.
1. Jared Veldheer, OT, Hillsdale, Round 3, 2010
Veldheer, in my opinion, is a Top 5 left tackle in the league. His size, arms, feet, and intelligence have allowed him to shut the very best pass rushers in the league. At 6’8, Veldheer should stifle against shorter and faster rushers, but his natural bend allows him to play lower with more leverage. Losing Veldheer was a setback to rebuilding the franchise, but no player is irreplaceable. This draft has two really good tackles at the top of the draft who could fill in nicely for the now departed Veldheer.
The lack of game changers and play makers in the list explain why the Raiders have been so poor in the last decade. The plan is to draft better from this point forward and it starts with the 2014 NFL Draft.