Monday, April 14, 2008

Raiders Need Sudden Impact

By Rick Richardson,

For NFL fans, the annual college draft is a chance for rebirth. Draft day is a chance to see a team select the players that will one day hoist the Lombardi Trophy. On April 26, a team that stunk the season before is the talk of the town. Suddenly thrust into the spotlight are the bottom feeders of the NFL. The hype is so thick it can be cut with a knife. Players have zoomed up and down the draft board, while experts extol their attributes with lisps that would make Cindy from Brady Bunch proud. For many NFL fans, this odd little affair has become a springtime ritual. An enjoyable diversion that can fit seamlessly into a Saturday afternoon's activities. After the first few picks, I usually find time to mow the lawn, and grill some steaks. Thank you DVR! It is those first five that hold the most drama after all. Especially since the Raiders have been in one of those slots too many times in the last several years.

Does the draft live up to its billing? Mostly no, sometimes yes. Let’s face it most teams miss. Not because the player is always worthless, but because with the money being spent and the cap ramifications, few teams have the luxury of letting a player develop. The leap from college to pro is large, and most rookies can’t create that sudden impact everyone is looking for. When picking in the top five everything is magnified. Players in the top 5 instantly vault to the top of the salary scale without playing one down of pro football. With this in mind teams picking in the top five need to look at acquiring the most bang for their buck. The immediate return on their investment. A pick that sells tickets. There is no room for a top five pick to take four years to develop anymore. If a player takes this long to season, the payoff usually is with a new team.

Therefore, with this in mind here is a look at the potential sudden impact makers of this draft.

Chris Long-

Sudden impact: This kid could be special. His non-stop motor and tenacious mentality could elevate a team. His father’s lineage is also a plus, especially for the Raiders.

Thud: His father’s legacy could pull him down. He is not huge, and the Raiders have already invested in Kalimba Edwards minimizing some of the need for DE.

Vernon Gholston-

Sudden Impact: Athletic freak. Put up wicked combine numbers. Gholston had a great game vs. Jake Long and Michigan. Could potentially be the next “freak” ala Jevon Kearse. Kearse definitely made a sudden impact in his earliest years although he faded quickly.

Thud: One scout compared him to Mike Mamula! Has the potential to be the typical workout warrior. He is a better fit for outside linebacker in the 3-4. Gholston could actually be the Brady Quinn of this year’s draft, stepping on the old draft day slippin’ slide, unless Raiders become enamored with his physical qualities.

Jake Long-

Sudden Impact: Could be this years Joe Thomas. Big, physical and strong. Potentially could make Jamarcus Russell feel comfortable in the pocket, accelerating Russell's growth.

Thud: Could be this years Robert Gallery. He is an offensive linemen limiting ticket-selling value. Better off finding that workhorse in the later rounds. Left tackle is a very tough position. Might struggle if forced into action early.

Darren Mcfadden-

Sudden Impact: Explosive speed and athleticism. Multi-faceted player with game changing ability. Good hands. Mcfadden carries with him star potential, which would be great for ticket sales. Would play right away.

Thud: More of a speed back than a pounder. Is not Adrian Peterson. Most runs are on the outside, and big runs up the middle were often through big holes. Missouri shut him down in the Cotton Bowl. Raiders already have stable of capable running backs.

Glenn Dorsey-

Sudden Impact: Could be the next Warren Sapp. Very strong with a non- stop motor. Can force teams to game plan around him. Has moderate star potential unless he becomes Sapp like, then he could marketing force. Would most likely play right away, as Raiders are thin at defensive tackle.

Thud: Could be unhealthy. Lots of money and poor health do not mix. Might get pushed around by massive NFL offensive linemen. Recent investments in defensive line might make it cost prohibitive.

Trade Down:

Sudden impact: Most likely would get players of equal or greater value. Could fill more holes in a Swiss cheese filled roster. Much less impact on cap. Raiders fans aren’t like typical fans. Most are knowledgeable and do not need star power to fill the seats. They want to see the team building a winner. There are many good players later on, and it is a guarantee that there will be late first round picks out performing top fives any given Sunday. The Raiders are thin on picks.

Thud: Chiefs, Broncos, or Chargers swoop in and pick the next superstar to haunt us for a decade. That is the only thud that matters to me.


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