by Adam Fournier, Ourlads’ Intern
After the turn of the century, the Raiders were one of the best teams in the AFC and were playing in the Super Bowl in January in 2003. To say it went downhill after that is an understatement as that Super Bowl appearance is their most recent playoff appearance to this day. The Raiders have been one of if not the worst team in the NFL the past decade or so. A lot of the Raiders’ issues have stemmed from a continual failure of draft picks, most notably Jamarcus Russell. The story is the same in the past five years, as the Raiders have struggled on the field and in the draft.
The biggest flop of the past five years was 2010 1st rounder Rolando McClain. McClain was a problem on and off the field in his time in Oakland. He struggled to contribute on the field, never living up to his top ten pick and had multiple run-ins with the law. McClain was released after just three years in Oakland. His 8th overall selection goes down as one of the worst in the past five years. The 2010 draft did produce two starters in Lamarr Houston and Jared Veldheer, but neither player was anything special. Not a single player from this draft is still with the team in 2015.
The 2011 and 2012 drafts were even worse as basically the entirety of both classes failed to make an impact. Both were hindered by the lack of 1st round picks due to trades, but that is not an excuse for the rest of the players failing. Only 2011 picks Stefen Wisniewksi and Denarius Moore and 2012 pick Miles Burris were ever primary starters, but were by no means great in their roles. The real issue is how short the majority of their careers in Oakland were, as not a single player from either draft will be starting for the Raiders in 2015. Only 2011 picks Chimdi Chekwa and Taiwan Jones and 2012 pick Tony Bergstrom remain with the team, but are all way down on the depth chart. Having only three players remaining from the 2010-2012 draft with none of them starting in 2015 is a huge reason for the Raiders’ struggles.
The 2013 draft was a little better but is by no means good so far. Sio Moore has been a solid player over his two years but the rest of the class has not great. The 4th round pick Tyler Wilson did not even last his entire rookie year in Oakland and is already out of the league. DJ Hayden, Latavius Murray, Mychal Rivera, and Stacy McGee will all get their chance to shine in 2015 as they are projected to start after making minor contributions their first two years. It is too early to write them off, but so far Moore is the only one who has looked the part.
However, the 2014 draft class looks to be a good one for the Raiders, highlighted by 5th overall pick Khalil Mack. Mack started every game as a rookie and made a huge impact. Mack was one of the best defensive rookies in 2014 and has emerged as one of the best young defensive linemen in the league. The Raiders have failed to draft a single Pro Bowler in the past five years, but Mack is likely to change that. Like Mack, 2nd round selection Derek Carr also started every game in 2014. He had a solid rookie year at quarterback for the Raiders and will be the starter in 2015. While it is premature to know for sure, it appears the Raiders have found their quarterback for the future. Gabe Jackson and Justin Ellis also contributed as starters for the majority of 2014 with Keith McGill and Travis Carrie contributing as reserves. Jackson and Carrie are projected as starters in 2015 with Ellis and McGill expected to contribute as reserves. While it is still early, this drafts looks like it may pay huge dividends down the line for Oakland.