Thursday, April 23, 2009

Crystal Ball Sees Raiders Picking…?

By Rick Richardson

It is always anyone’s guess who the Raiders will pick in the annual NFL draft, including Mr. Davis.

He covets a player occasionally and puts the “I’d rather be right than consistent” theory to test. Nevertheless, mostly he is like the rest of us and waits until draft day to see how the cards fall.

That includes a couple of years ago, when the Raiders owned what I like to call the No. 1 overall curse, due to the fact that accompanying the player is a huge cap-killing nightmare of a contract that by nature is doomed to haunt the “chosen one” for their entire career.

I’ve been right only four times that I can remember, with Napoleon Kaufman in 1995 and last year's pick, Darren McFadden, my only correct calls that weren’t no-brainers.

Sadly, Al wouldn’t listen to my telepathic pleas to take Ben Roethlisberger, Shaun Alexander, Luis Castillo, or Nick Mangold. In their stead, the Raiders received Robert Gallery, Sebastian Janikowski, Fabian Washington, and Michael Huff.

This year looks to be different; lucky at No. 7 instead of cursed at No. 1. There are a lot of good players and scenarios that could take place. While there is no one deserving of the No. 1 slot, there are a bounty of picks in the first that could be instant contributors.

The Raiders find themselves in a sweet spot. With no players on Oakland's radar worth the price of a trade up, and many teams wanting to get into the top 10 as soon as a player they covet slides, the Raiders are well positioned for a draft day haul.

So, which player am I mentally searing into Al’s brain this year? No one. No, not one. The vein on my forehead will be popping out because I will be mentally screaming for Mr. Davis to pick “the best player available.” In addition, if that best player available can be had a few spots down, by all means trade down.

Those squiggly waves that will be emanating from my house this weekend will be carrying this message to Al:

"If any team offers the house and the outhouse, take it, pick the best available player later in round one, and enjoy building with the extra picks."

This player most likely will be a shock slider. However, the fallback safe pick could be Rey Maualuga from USC. After watching game tape on him, he looks like a steal middle to late in the first round.

So, what do I see in the tea leaves come draft day? Don't believe the smokescreen by Tom Cable. He is an offensive line coach and talks wistfully of bringing home one of the Cadillac linemen, but there is no way he would talk that openly if that was what Al truly intended to do.

So Al, if you insist on staying at seven and taking a wideout, please take Mr. Instant Offense in Jeremy Maclin, and avoid the next incarnation of Phillip Buchanon AKA Michael Crabtree.

And remember, Phil Loadholt or Max Unger will be there waiting on you in the second.


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