Experts need to wake up and smell the coffee.
A week after the draft most NFL fans have graded their favorite teams draft but did the experts understand each teams system and position before giving them a poor grade.
Let’s take the Oakland Raiders by example.
The draft was an exciting one for Reggie McKenzie and the rest of the Raiders staff. The team included new head coach Dennis Allen and new offensive coordinator Gregg Knapp spiced up their draft by selecting players that fit their organization’s character and scheme and work ethics.
Isn’t that more important than bringing in a big-name college star that really doesn’t fit well, other than filling a position of need?
When grading the Raiders as a failure on draft day, NFL analysis must have had their blinders on. It’s not like the team was thrown into the first day or even able to trade up to the first two rounds, (assuming they even tried to do so).
The Raiders are in the midst of building valuable team chemistry with a mix of players to fill in the personnel holes on both sides of the ball.
It wasn’t until the end of the second day of the 2012 NFL draft that the Silver and Black even had a chance to start bring in the pieces to make their machine stronger. But, when the time came they did exactly what general manager Reggie McKenzie said the team would do—bring in guys that fit the system and show great attitudes and work ethic.
McKenzie knew well before the draft ever got started that his picks were limited and he'd have to make each one count. This was not a result of his own actions, but the actions of those that were making decisions before he became a part of the franchise.
How can one criticize McKenzie for the lack of draft selections when he's not the one that caused it? If anything, a draft grade should be based upon what a team did with the hand they were dealt—not on what they inherited.
The Raiders staff waited around 94 picks before they got to their time to shine and did exactly what they needed to do. Their needs were simple; build their offensive line, add a linebacker, add more depth to the receiving core and defensive line. They did that. What more could they have done?
Look at the Raiders draft from another prospective.
The team did not make a big splash in their first selection of the draft and wisely snatched an offensive lineman that could very well start at guard day-one of their draft, and the team picked up a top ten receiver in this year’s draft class in Juron Criner.
While at the same time they were able to work on their defense snatching up two powerful players one came in the fourth from San Diego State OLB Miles Burres and DE Jack Crawford from Penn State both have the ability to work well into coach Allen new defensive system.
The Raiders were winners on the second day. They selected a back-up quarterback who now will compete with Matt Leinart for the backup job behind starting Quarterback Carson Palmer. Yes everyone, Terrell Pryor was part of this year’s draft because Al Davis used a 3rd round pick from this year's draft to get him in the supplemental draft.
At the end of the 3rd round, with their compensation pick the Raiders pick went out and selected OL Tony Bergstrom. What else more did the analysis want the team to do, okay select an big name for the fans or select someone to fit their Raiders new system well while at the same time filling in a need. Isn’t that what the Raiders did by selecting Bergstrom has a good overall strength and the ability to explode off the line as a run blocker with enough athleticism to do well in pass protection .
In a earlier press conference before the draft McKenzie said exactly the right words “You have to make sure they really love the game and make sure that they’re good football players,” McKenzie said. ”Then all of the other stuff—how they test, how they play, what kind of skills they have—that all plays a part in how you evaluate them.”
This is what the team selecting quality players willing to play the game and to develop into the great players they expect them to become.
He continued by adding this “ Once we’ve made the decision, we’re not going to think back and start listening to a whole bunch of coaches or scouts,” McKenzie continued. “If the board tells us to do one thing, that’s the way we’re going to do it. And everybody will know that going in. That’s why you spend all this time setting the board.”
Therefore, it simply doesn’t make any sense to say the Raiders failed on draft day. Given the circumstances they did lot better than many other teams did in the later rounds.
If I were to grade the Raiders' picks by positions of need, character, team chemistry and whether a player fits the team system, I would give them a B+.
Sure there may have been more populated players available but they’re not a good match for the system nor what the new regime is trying to put together.
Given the circumstances the Raiders staff set a good example of how develop the future members of the Silver and Black. Isn’t that what the draft is all about choosing players to guide your team to success in the future?