Fantasy (re)draft: Reforming the Oakland Raiders

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Would Mel Kiper and Todd McShay have done a better job drafting for the Oakland Raiders the last four years? Let's look!

Every offseason, we compulsively listen to Todd McShay and Mel Kiper give their opinions and projections for the upcoming NFL Draft. We love to critique when they're wrong, when they suggest things like Russell Wilson being too short to make it in the NFL, for example.

But do we give them credit when they're right? It makes sense that the best teams know how to find the diamonds that the experts overlook, but what about the teams that consistently draft stinkers? Could McShay and Kiper do any better?

Let's take a look at the last four draft classes of one the league's most notorious draft-day teams, the Oakland Raiders, and see what could have been if Kiper and McShay were co-GMs.

2010

Round Kiper McShay/Scouts, Inc. Actual
1 Jimmy Clausen, QB Anthony Davis, OT Rolando McClain, ILB
2 Rodger Saffold, OT Tyson Alualu, DT LaMarr Houston, DE
3 Emmanuel Sanders, WR Zane Beadles, G Jared Veldheer, OT
4 Mike Johnson, G Tony Pike, QB Bruce Campbell, OT
4 Jacoby Ford, WR
5 Marcus Easley, WR Walter McFadden, CB
5 LeGarrette Blount, RB
6 Travis Goethel, ILB
7 Pat Paschall, RB Jeremy Ware, CB
7 Micah Johnson, ILB Stevie Brown, S

Houston and Veldheer were tremendous pickups, especially given where the Raiders were able to snag them on their board. Both players were among the elite at their respective positions in 2012, and unfortunately suffered severe injuries in 2013 that limited their playing time. Unfortunately for the Raiders, they missed hard with every other draft pick, most notably their first-rounder. Rolando McClain is now out of the NFL after retiring from the Baltimore Ravens before the season began.

The Raiders probably wouldn't have been any better if Kiper's projected outcome unfolded. Jimmy Clausen at No. 8 is more laughable than McClain, and Roger Saffold isn't an upgrade over Veldheer, although having Emmanuel Sanders on board would be nice. Mike Johnson has been injured too often to call him a whiff.

McShay's seven-round projection with Scouts, Inc., is intriguing, however. Anthony Davis, Tyson Alualu and Zane Beadles are all starters elsewhere at the moment. Of course, Alualu (first round to Jacksonville) and Beadles (second round to Denver) went much higher than McShay projected anyway, so the point is moot. The big whiff here is LeGarrette Blount, who might have thrived with the Raiders with plenty of playing time in place of Darren McFadden.

2011

Round Kiper McShay/Scouts, Inc. Actual
2 Clint Boling, G Johnny Patrick, CB Stefan Wisniewski, C
3 Chimdi Chekwa, CB Joe Lefeged, S DeMarcus Van Dyke, DB
3

Joseph Barksdale, OT
4
David Arkin, G Chimdi Chekwa, CB
4 Taiwan Jones, RB
5 Jordan Cameron, TE Denarius Moore, WR
6 Aldrick Robinson, WR Richard Gordon, TE
7 Nathan Enderle, QB David Ausberry, WR
7 Michael Smith, OT

The Raiders were without a first-round pick in 2011 because they traded it to the New England Patriots for Richard Seymour. This was a big mistake in hindsight. He made the Pro Bowl after the 2011 season, but played just eight games in 2012 due to injuries. The Raiders then voided his contract in the offseason to avoid paying him more than $19 million for 2013.

But excluding the flubbed first-round pick, the Raiders did okay for themselves relative to what Kiper and McShay would have had them do in the draft. Stefan Wisniewski has molded into a quality starter at center, and Denarius Moore was an excellent find in the fifth round. Joe Barksdale might have been an upgrade over Tony Pashos at right tackle if the Raiders had held on to him.

DeMarcus Van Dyke was a big miss in the third round, but Johnny Patrick and Joseph Lefeged wouldn't have been any better. Clint Boling was a plus-player with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2012, but injuries kept him from being more effective in 2013.

Jordan Cameron would have been an excellent addition to the 2013 Raiders, but that's about it.

2012

Round Kiper McShay/Scouts, Inc. Actual
3
Cam Johnson, DE Tony Bergstrom, G
4
Kyle Wilber, DE Miles Burris, OLB
5
Asa Jackson, S Jack Crawford, DE
5
Loni Fangupo, DT Juron Criner, WR
6 Lucas Nix, G Christian Bilkuldi, DT
7
Nate Stupar, OLB

The Raiders were without second- AND third-round picks in 2012, so Kiper's typically front-loaded mock drafts don't even come into play. Given that these players are all in just their second years, it's a little rash to grade McShay and the Raiders harshly one way or the other.

The Raiders did a nice job of finding another quality pass catcher in the fifth round. Top pick Tony Bergstrom was beat out by Lucas Nix (who the Raiders signed as an undrafted free agent) for the starting left guard position before both players got injured.

The only player to see significant playing time this season is Kyle Wilber, who ultimately went to the Dallas Cowboys 16 picks before the Raiders could have had him in the fourth round. He had 44 tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble this season.

2013

Round Kiper McShay/Scouts, Inc. Actual
1 Sharrif Floyd, DT Sharrif Floyd, DT D.J. Hayden, CB
2 Shamarko Thomas, S
Menelik Watson, OT
3
Mike Glennon, QB Sio Moore, LB
4
Sam Montgomery, DE Tyler Wilson, QB
6 Kenny Stills, WR Nick Kasa, TE
6 Nickell Robey, CB Latavius Murray, RB
6 Nick Kasa, TE Mychal Rivera, TE
6 Stacy McGee, DT
7 Emmett Cleary, OT Brice Butler, WR
7
David Bass, De

Kiper, McShay and Scouts, Inc., all wanted the Raiders to take Sharrif Floyd at No. 3 overall. Instead, Oakland traded down to take D.J. Hayden. Results are still inconclusive as to which player will ultimately be better. Floyd played a limited role with the Minnesota Vikings as a rookie, but showed flashes of being a potent pass rusher up the middle. Hayden's season ended on injured reserve due to a groin injury.

The Raiders were able to gain a second round pick by trading with the Miami Dolphins, however, and the selection of Menelik Watson appears to have been a good one. The rookie was able to give quality minutes at right tackle on an injury-stricken line. With development, he could turn into a regular starter.

Sio Moore was easily the Raiders' best pick, unless Hayden proves otherwise. Moore locked down a starting position at outside linebacker, and went on to grade out as the eighth-best player at his position in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus.

The Raiders dodged a bullet by avoiding Sam Montgomery, though taking quarterback Tyler Wilson instead appears to have been a waste. We might be talking about Mike Glennon as the current Raiders' starting quarterback if they had selected him instead. Paired with Kenny Stills, Oakland would have had more hope for its offense entering the 2014 season.

Would Kiper/McShay have done better than the Raiders?

Hard to say. There would be more hope for the offense from a skill position perspective, certainly. There would be some mild enthusiasm for Mike Glennon throwing to Emmanuel Sanders, Kenny Stills and Jordan Cameron after the Jimmy Clausen experiment crashed and burned. LeGarrette Blount might have thrived in Oakland as he was on track to do in Tampa Bay.

The Raiders would not have been better off on defense, however. Sure, Sharrif Floyd may still blossom into a star, but so may D.J. Hayden. Meanwhile, Sio Moore is already a bona fide starter, and should be an anchor in the front seven for years to come.

Unfortunately for the Raiders, neither the current picture nor the "what if" look particularly appetizing.

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