Prominent new Raiders deserve a chance

By Brad Wilbricht  |   Thursday, April 30, 2009  |  Comments( 54 )

Oakland Raiders
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The Oakland Raiders continued to make surprising decisions in last weekend's NFL draft, selecting Maryland wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey with the seventh overall pick and safety Michael Mitchell in Round 2. However, regardless of what took place on Saturday, both players still deserve a fair shot from Raider Nation.

Although there were more highly regarded prospects available, the Oakland front office decided on Heyward-Bey, who benefited from an excellent combine workout; at the combine, his quickness and athleticism caught the eye of the Raider brass. Owner Al Davis was left drooling after Heyward-Bey blazed the track for a 4.3-second 40-yard dash time. Davis has historically been enamored by speed and this year was no different.

While Oakland has been criticized for the selections of both Heyward-Bey and Mitchell, it’s hard to blame the Raiders for grabbing players they felt can best help them. The draft has become a huge attraction and has brought several so-called expert opinions with it. Nearly every media outlet has multiple draft analysts, but right or wrong, the Raiders continue to lean on their own ratings.

With the arm strength of quarterback JaMarcus Russell and the versatility Oakland currently possesses at the running back position, the Raiders desperately needed a wideout who can get up the field and stretch opposing defenses. Heyward-Bey is arguably more effective in this area than any other prospect available.

Sure, the logical thought is that Oakland should have traded down, but maybe that wasn’t a viable option. The Cleveland Browns had just traded the fifth overall pick to the New York Jets, eliminating that possibility. If the Raiders had an opportunity to move down, Heyward-Bey could have been gone at that point. Bottom line: The Raiders got the player they wanted and should be commended for that to some extent.

The choice of Mitchell was precarious, but the safety from Ohio deserves a chance to prove his worth. He had an outstanding private workout for the Raiders and at least a few other teams graded him relatively high. Just because the likes of Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay weren’t touting him doesn’t mean it’s a worthless pick. No, Mitchell wasn’t on the second-round radar, but Oakland fans owe him a chance to succeed.

If Heyward-Bey and Mitchell don’t pan out, there will be outrage regarding this year’s draft. In addition, the remainder of the Raiders’ draft class has been subject to heavy criticism already. However, that outrage and criticism should be put on hold, at least for now.

Like it or not, each player was selected and will now wear the silver and black in Oakland. All the Raiders (and their fans) can do is hope things go well.
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About Brad Wilbricht

Brad Wilbricht covers numerous sporting events including the NFL, NFL Draft and college football. His analysis is simulcast through several media outlets across the country. Additionally, Brad is a regular guest on a variety of talk radio shows and can be frequently heard on the airwaves. To...
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