Just in case you forgot, here are the Raider draft picks:
Round, No, name, position, nchool
1 (4) Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas
4 (100) Tyvon Branch, DB, Connecticut
4 (125) Arman Shields, WR, Richmond
6 (169) Trevor Scott, DE, Buffalo
7 (226) Chaz Schilens, WR, San Diego State
I’m not going to give the Raiders a grade for their picks, simply because like most writers, I detest deciding how they’ll impact the team before they even play a down of NFL football.
It’s obvious Al Davis is tired of watching his Raiders not score points and not scare defenses.
But here are my observations from the weekend:
*Justin Fargas will be good for McFadden. Fargas isn’t the kind of person that will refuse to help the rookie because he’s worried about losing carries. Lane Kiffin mentioned using both in the game at the same time.
*Branch will also have a good mentor in Jarrod Cooper. Branch is going to play a lot on special teams and Cooper is one of the NFL’s best. Cooper will have no problem knocking someone silly to block for him on kickoffs. And Branch’s speed and tackling should help kick coverage that was already pretty good.
*Shields and Schilens fit the mold of the kind of receivers Kiffin had at USC, bigger players. I wonder if this means Johnnie Lee Higgins might be reduced to being the team’s punt returner. Shields’ knee injury, which no one can seem to describe accurately, is 100 percent.
Shields injured his PCL in 2007. It had been reported to be an ACL. I won't get into all the medical lingo, I think we all know those are knee ligaments.
*The extra speed will give tight end Zach Miller a lot more opportunities in the passing game.
*I hope the team gives Scott a chance to develop. Players with his size and speed are rare and he figures to get better since he’s only played defense for two years. If Kalimba Edwards struggles, Scott could contribute immediately as a pass rusher.
*I noticed Fabian Washington’s background on his myspace page had already been changed to give the page a Baltimore Ravens look.
The Raiders minicamp for rookies and first-year players will be May 9-11. No word on the date for the mandatory.
Since I don’t want to grade the draft, here’s a sampling of what others said:
Mel Kiper, ESPN: B-
Comment: He likes the Branch selection, calls Shields a “developmental receiver.”
Paul Zimmerman, SI.com:
"Oakland Raiders: Mainly because I called this one right in my mock draft, and I needed wins real bad. Al Davis has a mob of runners, but none of them like McFadden. He runs a 4.33, and in the old days, the typical Raider running back, Mark Van Eeghen, Marv Hubbard, that bunch, couldn't cover 20 yards in that time. So everyone's keeping fingers crossed that the bright lights of Oakland don't ensnare the young man. Ghosts of Teddy Hendricks and John Matuszak are everywhere. I also like Oakland's third-round choice, fourth rounder Bryan Shields, the tall wideout who broke the bank at the combine workouts."
Comment: Obviously a typo on Shields’ first name. I assume Branch is the third-rounder he’s talking about.
John Czarnecki, Foxsports.com: B
"The only thing I didn't like was the trade of former first-round pick Fabian Washington for a fourth-rounder, though he had fallen out of favor in Oakland."
Comment: Also likes the Branch pick.
Jason Cole, Yahoo Sports: A-
"Branch and Shields are desperate attempts to fill needs, but should make the team."
Comment: I really disagree on Branch. The Raiders need depth at safety and a kick returner. As for Shields, he shouldn’t be forced to play early, so I don’t think that was desperate.