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Raider Draft 09: All ‘Eat Crow’ Team

So I have put together a collection of things that the many critics have said about the Raider draft this year and from that I have compiled what I call: “The All ‘Eat Crow’ Team.” http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=4100600

About two tenths of a second after the Darrius Heyward-Bey pick by the Raiders, the negative criticism began pouring in. And oh, how they piled on. When the Raiders second round pick came in, what started out as a feeding frenzy became a massacre. But if these “experts,” prognosticators, and analysts are going to pile on the Raiders for making the decisions they make, then someone (me, in this case) must take note of these criticisms, log them in, and check back with them down the road a piece to see if they are willing to be held accountable for their rants.

Quite often it is only the players themselves who will remember the barbs thrown at them by the talking heads. The players will in turn use that criticism to fuel their fire so that, when/if they prove the critics wrong, they can throw it back in their face. This kind of thing doesn’t happen often enough, though.


Here is what I found, where I found it, and who said it.


ESPN’s “Around the Horn” topic exchange. The Monday after the draft.

When the question came up regarding who was the biggest loser on draft day, this is the response:

Woody Paige: It’s gotta be the Oakland Raiders. We talk about Mr Irrelevant, that’s been Al Davis for years now. And they always make mistakes in the draft. Even when they have the number one overall pick [I assume he is calling JaMarcus Russell a mistake]. They needed a tackle. What’d they do? They went out and got a wide receiver [for the record, the Raiders also needed a receiver]. They didn’t even get the best wide receiver, Michael Crabtree…

Tony Realli: Ok…

Woody Paige (getting more red in the face): …is going across the bay and they hook up with Heyward-Bey…”

Tony Realli: Lower the volume.

Woody Paige (now yelling): I don’t even understand the city by the bay…

Tony Realli: Alright. [hits the mute button on Woody] Inside voice, Woody Paige! … KB?

Kevin Blackistone: I’ll have to agree with you. The Raiders, once again, as Jay [Mariotti] said the same thing, made some horrific picks.


ESPN draft day panel discussion just prior to an interview with Darrius Heyward-Bey




Louis Murphy, Florida (fourth round, No. 124 overall).Darrius Heyward-Bey, Maryland (first round, No. 7 overall).JaMarcus Russell’s rare ability to drive the ball downfield. But the thing is, Oakland is going to have to pay big money to Heyward-Bey, who might not even be a No. 2 receiver.”Darrius Heyward-Bey at No. 7 even though Michael Crabtree and Jeremy Maclin were still on the board, but the biggest reach of their draft and of the entire draft was the second-round selection of safety Michael Mitchell. This kid was thought to be a seventh-round pick at best and possibly an undrafted free agent, and the Raiders pulled the ultimate reach by taking him in the second round. Oakland Raiders, on the other hand, have been bungling their way through most of the decade, with owner Al Davis as the circus’ ring leader. Oakland is 24-72 since the start of 2003, the worst in the NFL over that period. most disastrous drafts of the past two decades.

Cris Carter: It’s ridiculous.

Trent Dilfer: I’m not surprised, I’m disturbed. Cris? Why am I disturbed?

CC: We’re talking about pro football.

TD: Yes we are.

CC: I think I know a thing or two about being a pro…

TD: I think you do.

Tom Jackson: [laughing throughout]

CC: This is the guy, out of the top five guys that I would say would be least likely to succeed.

Suzie Kolber: Why?

CC: The reason why is because this is not track. He’s one of the fastest athletes in Maryland history. Timed at a 4.25. Some people say he can run a 4.2 flat. But every game I see they put eleven guys on defense and they put hurdles in between. You got to run between people. If they were having a track meet, which the Raiders should know this, remember they had the 4×100 team, they had the two Olympian guys. You don’t win football games with track guys. You don’t. AND he can’t catch the ball. I don’t even know if that’s proper English.

TJ: [laughing hysterically]

CC: He can’t…I mean…the coach says, “Hey son, you’re a receiver, go out and get me the ball.” He can’t do that very well. In the ACC–I’m almost done…

TD: In the ACC…

CC: He was honorable mention.

TD: Not very good corners there…

TJ: [still laughing hysterically]

CC: B-B-But wait a second. He was HONORABLE MENTION!

TJ: That’s big. Ok now…

CC: He was Honorable Mention! I mean he’s just not…and he’s a junior wide receiver. Besides that, like he said, he’s great.

SK: You don’t like the pick, huh Cris? [laugh]

TJ: [laughs again]

SK: Here’s a question; what is the offensive philosophy now with the Oakland Raiders? Their head coach Tom Cable, we know — offensive lineman, likes to run the ball. Al Davis wants the vertical passing game. And I guess Al Davis…


SK: Won.

TJ: He won that decision [laughs]

CC: There’s nothing in his game that says he’s more ready than those other guys. Because the other guys are consistent. The other guys, when they stepped on the field in college, they dominated. They have separation. They don’t drop the football. They have very, very strong hands.

– After this exchange, they went live to Darrius Heyward-Bey (sitting with his entire family at his home, donning his new Raider hat) who no doubt was watching that entire scene with the analysts trashing him and laughing hysterically at him and at the Raiders for choosing him. They could also be heard snickering even DURING the Heyward-Bey interview which Suzie Kolber conducted. Classy.


Cris Carter and Trent Dilfer (again) after Tom Cable interview on ESPN

Cris Carter: I do know how to recognize a receiver when he can make a contribution to an NFL team. Darrius Heyward-Bey — he made honorable mention All-ACC. Now you’re telling me that I just spent 50 million dollars on my quarterback, he’s my franchise quarterback, and I’m going to get a guy who’s going to be in the ACC, be inconsistent. He had games when he didn’t even catch a ball. So how’s that going to help JaMarcus? If he can’t catch a ball in an ACC game, he gets to the National Football League, now you know they have a reason to make him disappear. It’s easy to take a receiver out of a game, and a receiver does not help a young quarterback that much, especially when you have the sack problems that the Raiders have.

CC [in response to Cable’s DHB comparison to Randy Moss]: Now I know Randy Moss is a better football player than this kid. It didn’t work for Randy Moss. … Honorable mention. Did anybody mention that? [yes…you did…several times]

Trent Dilfer [saying that Cable’s plan to use DHB to throw the ball over the top of defenses won’t work]: It’s a different game. You can’t protect long enough to throw the football fifty-five, sixty yards down the field. It doesn’t work. That formula — run, run, run, suck ‘em up, throw it over their head — doesn’t work. It doesn’t work anywhere, and hasn’t worked for years. That’s why the best offensive coaches in this league understand the horizontal stretch as well as a vertical stretch. You have to balance your offense to move the chains.”

– Hey Dilfer? The Wildcat never worked in the pros prior to last year either.


Todd McShay’s first take on AFC drafts: “Bengals, Bills shine on draft day”

Raiders botch the draft while Jets deserve applause for aggressive maneuver.

Best pick: WR

Worst pick: WR

“Bottom line: The Raiders obviously march to a different drummer. They found speed in Heyward-Bey and they think he can provide the vertical element that Al Davis always wants in his offense and can take advantage of QB


Mel Kiper Draft Grades

Oakland Raiders: Grade D

“Oakland’s draft was a head-scratcher. The Raiders took wide receiver

I just want to say that my issues with those two picks have nothing to do with those players. Congrats to them for getting picked and obviously having the talent to make it to the NFL. My issue is that these weren’t good value picks for the organization. The Raiders could have gotten more value from the No. 7 pick and definitely more value from the No. 47 pick, and that’s why I believe they made a mistake. The only reason Oakland didn’t receive an F is because they did get some players.”


Mel Kiper and Todd McShay post draft pod cast

Todd McShay: What was the– if you look back on the 2009 draft, whether it’s a week later, three months later, or a year later– what is it that will stand out to you about the 09 class?

Mel Kiper: The Raiders…uh…that’s all I can say Todd. Now it’s not — Someone was saying yesterday when we were doing team grades, somebody said, “They think you have a vendetta against the Raiders.” I love the Raiders. Al Davis — we talked about him in the meeting — great respect for Al Davis. I grew up with Al Davis and I still believe that they have done some positive things. We, or I personally just disagree with some things. What I did too was, I checked Darrius Heyward-Bey. Obviously I had 30, he goes 7. He’s a local kid, I hope he does great, but I thought that was high. The Michael Mitchell thing — the safety from Ohio — now I had him a seventh round grade and I know you had him further down the line. Now, you check and you say, “Ok, some teams thought he was a free agent.” One team said to me, “Oh that kid’s a heck of a football player, I would’ve taken him in the third round. He’s a pro bowler.” So Oakland wasn’t on this island all by themselves. To try to be fair and give all the different sides — and people realize our opinion’s not the final verdict on whether a kid can play or he can’t play, it’s our opinion — but in terms of Michael Mitchell, I found one team that really liked this kid. I look back, that name will be watched very closely over the next two or three years. Darrius Heyward-Bey will be compared to Michael Crabtree. They could’ve had him. I understand he doesn’t fit that profile of the speed receiver but, you know, to take Heyward-Bey that high and not trade down, the Raiders, to me, defined moving forward who we’re gonna be talking about in this draft.

TM: And I would say in addition, just being in New York — the decision by the Jets to move up to number four to get Sanchez. I’ll always remember this draft for that move.


Kiper and McShay Draft Winners and Losers

Steal of the draft?

Kiper’s: Jarron Gilbert, San Jose State in third round

McShay: LeSean McCoy, Pittsburgh, second round

Draft winner?

McShay: NY Giants

Kiper: Buffalo Bills

Draft Loser?

Kiper: The Oakland Raiders. Darrius Heyward-Bey, I think he’s got potential, no question about it. I had him at 30, he went 7. And Michael Mitchell you talk about in the second round out of Ohio. Here’s a kid I had way down the line. Louis Murphy, the Florida wide receivers have not panned out, so I would have to say the Oakland Raiders.

McShay: Oakland I would have to agree with but I would have to add the Dallas Cowboys…They didn’t add any impact players in the draft.


CBS Sports Raiders Draft Day Recap

Jason Horowitz: It wasn’t Sebastian Janikowski in the first round (which has actually worked out pretty good) but a lot of questions about what the Raiders did here on day one of the 2009 NFL draft… It started at #7 with Darrius Heyward-Bey predicted to be in the 20’s, he went number 7 to Oakland and the crowd and everyone else was aghast.

Clark Judge: Yeah I was surprised but I’ll tell you one reason you can’t be surprised; because he can run. Al Davis loves the vertical passing game, he doesn’t have the vertical passing game receiver. He does now. But we talked about productivity; this kid doesn’t have it. He has never scored more than five touchdowns in a year. He went through a month this year without catching a pass. But a lot of people see him as one or two years down the road being a future star. He’s a guy I thought might go anywhere from 15 to 25 but at seven Jeremy Maclin was there and I cannot see that.

JH: Maclin was there, Michael Crabtree was there

Pat Kirwin: He caught 41 touchdown to 13 touchdowns. That make any sense to you? It doesn’t make any sense to me. Heyward-Bey, the good news about him is he played on a team that didn’t have a quarterback. If you want to make a case for him, that’s the case. It’s not enough for me, though.

JH: I don’t think that was the biggest concern for Oakland Raider fans here today. At the second round they traded out of the 40 spot and went down to 47 and they took a guy named Michael Mitchell, a safety from Ohio. Not Ohio State, but Ohio. Not a problem except for people don’t even have them on their boards or in their books.

PK: Well, I have him at 225 where I have everyone I didn’t think was gonna get drafted. Gil Brandt, my buddy, didn’t have him in the top 150 so we quickly looked him up in the book. Here’s a guy that was a 214 pound safety that ran 4.6 so he doesn’t even have the Al Davis speed prerequisite. He’s just the mystery guest, folks.

JH: And this is nothing on Michael Mitchell, it’s not his fault he was taken in the second round. It’s just something that was a huge surprise to everybody.

CJ: Yeah it was. I would have been a lot happier had they taken Mitch Mitchell, the Jimi Hendrix Experience. I thought they were taking him, but Mike Mitchell I know nothing about. Nor does anyone else. Rick Goslin had him as 231 in his draft. I don’t know what this guy’s all about.

JH: And Rick Goslin is a guy who is always pretty much dead on in his boards. So the Raiders…well…they still have a lot of needs. Where do you think they need to go? Is there anybody that would surprise you at this point?

PK: Nothing would surprise me with Oakland. And I don’t want to be that critical of them but the real message that came out of today was — who’s making the decisions? Is there a staff? Are they developing a concept about where to go? Probably not. They need to get a defensive tackle; Terdell Sands cannot stay in there any longer. They need to get an offensive tackle also. Now there are none left.

JH: And maybe a decision maker somewhere along the line. You gotta feel a little bad for Tom Cable if he’s not the one pulling the strings — which you would assume he’s not.


Clifton Brown blog via Sporting News.com 

Grading the NFL Draft 

Oakland Raiders: D-

Wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey best have a better NFL career than Crabtree. There is no logic in trading up to take safety Michael Mitchell**. Bad teams cannot afford to make mistakes. The Raiders might have set themselves back.

**NOTE: I suppose the fact that this guy is stupid enough to think the Raiders traded UP to get Michael Mitchell when in actuality they traded DOWN, tells you all you need to know about his credibility. But as long as he is given a forum like SportingNews.com, he will be held accountable for his words.


Associated Press as posted on SportingNews.com (no specific author. Figures…pussies)


Poor Darrius Heyward-Bey, the Maryland receiver whose stock plummeted when he became the newest Raider. He was selected No. 7 overall and welcomed to the NFL by a chorus of boos from Raiders fans in attendance at Radio City Music Hall on Saturday.

“This is a guy that I had targeted a month ago,” said Raiders coach Tom Cable, who apparently fell in love with Heyward-Bey’s blazing speed.

If Cable was watching ESPN and/or the NFL Network, he got to hear all the things Heyward-Bey doesn’t do well — inconsistent hands, doesn’t go over the middle — and how he clearly wasn’t as good as Michael Crabtree, who went three picks later to San Francisco.

It sure looks as if the stopwatch-obsessed Raiders reached for Heyward-Bey, and then did it again when they took Ohio University defensive back Michael Mitchell and his 4.4 speed in the second round.


Austin Murphy of SI.com

God bless the Silver and Yack: Draft further sickens Raider fans

Oakland Raiders fans have undergone an interesting evolution since last weekend’s draft, by which I do not mean to imply that they’ve only just begun walking upright.

Their team having lost 72 of its 96 games since appearing in the ‘03 Super Bowl, Raider Nation can now safely be described as “long-suffering.” Under the face paint and the foil-covered spikes and the metal-studded clothing, they have a pretty good idea of what they saw over the weekend: another subpar draft, courtesy of the guy who’s presided over some of the

With the 7th overall pick, the Raiders selected Darrius Heyward-Bey, a Maryland junior who had a strong combine, running the swiftest 40 (4.3) and reportedly acing his interviews (rather lower on the priority list of those members of Raider Nation occupying the Black Hole). Once again, a player’s straight-ahead speed and other enticing “measurables” eclipsed, in the eyes of the franchise’s Godfather, such trifling concerns as his mediocre production and questionable hands. The problem being that the ex-Terrapin is still learning how to catch the football.

Heyward-Bey — a terrific young man, by all accounts, who can’t be blamed for the erratic behavior of the NFL’s most dysfunctional franchise. By opting for the potential of DHB over the production of Crabtree — or, for that matter, Mizzou all-purpose threat Jeremy Maclin — Davis exposed, once again, his preference for all things retro.

Oakland’s second pick was, by a degree of magnitude, a more outlandish reach than its first. Indeed, the selection of Ohio Bobcat free safety Michael Mitchell — whom ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper identified as the 73rd-best safety on his “board” — served to make the Heyward-Bey pick seem safe and practical.

Mitchell was, by all accounts, a fine safety in the MAC: a hard-hitting, heads-up ballhawk — albeit one who wasn’t even invited to the combine or any of the college all-star games. ESPN had no footage of him to air when Mitchell’s name was called for the 47th pick.

Regardless of how DHB and Mitchell pan out, we can be certain of this: if they succeed, Davis will bask in the credit. If they flop, and the team goes south again, he’ll deflect blame until it’s time to fire another coach, call another press conference, and talk about how he was undermined. It will be painful for Raiders fans, but highly entertaining for the rest of us.


Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times

On Darrius Heyward-Bey:

The fact this fleet-cleated receiver’s running stride is even longer than his last name was irresistible to the Raiders, who took him seventh overall even though they could have grabbed Texas Tech’s Michael Crabtree. But the Raiders should be wary of this bit of NFL math: “Speed (minus) hands = James Jett.”


Gregg Rosenthal and Evan Silva of Rotoworld.com

Draft Grades

Oakland Raiders

Grade: D

Details: Just what JaMarcus Russell needs: a workout wonder in wideout Darrius Heyward-Bey that looks better running the 40-yard dash than he does playing football. Heyward-Bey could be the next Troy Williamson, a fast player who isn’t tough enough for the NFL. Second round pick safety Michael Mitchell wasn’t even on most teams boards, but he runs fast. Owner Al Davis is building a great relay team.


Tim Kawakami, San Jose Mercury News

“Raider non-greatness: It’s all about the weakness of Al Davis’ draft record”

Trust in Al Davis! Err, maybe not.

Hey, I can understand that some people want to believe that Al knows something about Darrius Heyward-Bey and Mike Mitchell and everybody else he selected last weekend that nobody could believe he took… believe because GOSHDARNIT HE’S AL DAVIS AND HE MUST KNOW SOMETHING.

Except, in reality, this is probably a terrible draft because Davis has been a terrible drafter for years and years now. Sorry. Just the truth, Raiders fans-though I think you know it in your hearts. Some even are saying it. Al has been terrible, dating back maybe 20 years, maybe longer.

That’s why the Raiders get no benefit of the doubt with Al’s kooky picks this year. He should’ve been roasted like this for years — for Michael Huff and Robert Gallery and Napoleon Harris, just to name a few since 2002.

–Granted, this article was more about Al Davis and his drafting woes, for which Kawakami is correct. But he is assuming that the picks were made by Al Davis and not Tom Cable, when the draft as a whole has Cable’s signature all over it.


So ladies and gents, here is your 2010 All ‘Eat Crow’ Team:

Woody Paige- Denver Post

Kevin Blackistone- Fanhouse.com

Jay Mariotti- AOL Sports

Cris Carter- Former NFL receiver

Trent Dilfer- Former NFL quarterback

Tom Jackson- Former NFL player and Raider whipping boy

Todd McShay- Scouts Inc.

Mel Kiper- ESPN NFL Draft Analyst

Jason Horowitz- CBSSports.com

Clark Judge- CBSSports.com

Pat Kirwin- CBSSports.com and NFL.com

Clifton Brown- SportingNews.com blogger

Austin Murphy- SI.com

Sam Farmer- Los Angeles Times

Gregg Rosenthal- Rotoworld.com

Evan Silva- Rotoworld.com

Tim Kawakami- San Jose Mercury News


Now let me make myself clear here. I would be the first person to tell you that we should always look at every move the Raiders make with a critical eye. After all, one can’t just agree with everything the team does simply because one loves them. That is what we call being a “homer.”

These NFL gurus and mediots seem to have gone a bit far with their criticisms, though. After a while they all start to sound the same, as if they take one or two opinions that aren’t their own and pass them off as their own because they don’t really have a clue.

Hey, I will admit that I was not happy with either of the first two picks when they were announced. We all get stars in our eyes come draft time and our expectations can be hard to live up to. Since that time, I have done a great deal of research on those picks and feel a lot better about them. But even so, I will gladly admit time and time again that I was wrong about these guys if it comes to that.

What all this means is, if they are right, they are doing their jobs. Because they are supposed to be right the better portion of the time. That is why most people look to them for advice. But if they are wrong then I would not be doing my job if I didn’t hold them accountable for it. And neither would you as a fan.

Sometimes it can be hard to step up and say “I was wrong” but if we as journalists and writers are going to pass judgments and make predictions, we must be ready to take the heat if we are wrong.

I will revisit this list after the season and hopefully for Raider fans, these guys will be sitting down to a nice hearty helping of crow. If it comes to that, I won’t be holding my breath on any of them fessing up to anything they said, though.