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Raiders reach for speedy Van Dyke

Of course you knew that the Raiders were going to take the fastest guy at the combine. The hope they would wait until the fourth round.  But in the the end, they could not wait and the Raiders drafted DeMarcus Van Dyke with their 81st pick overall in the 2011 Draft.

It was a huge reach with Texas CB Curtis Brown still out there, but in the words of Bill Parcells, when you see the guy you want on the board, you go and get him. The Raiders did just that for this 6’1” 176 lb. flyer from Miami “The U”. He was a two sport athlete at Miami, playing football and – surprise – running track. He only started three games last year and played primarily in the nickel package.

Van Dyke is fast, running a 4.28 forty – the fastest time at the combine. He has great recovery speed, but he is going to have to bulk up to be able to handle the more physical receivers in the NFL. Mel Kiper Jr. says that he thinks Van Dyke actually outplayed Brandon Harris, who went to the Houston Texans earlier in the draft.

He started 21 of a possible 50 games with the Hurricanes, and recorded 80 career tackles, 10 deflections and three picks in his career. His starts were uneven throughout his college career.  He started 8 games as a freshman so things started off well. But then he took a step back with just two starts his sophomore season. Then his junior season, he was back up to eight games started. Then his senior season he started three games before being benched and relegated to nickel duties.

Hue Jackson claimed to be very excited about getting Van Dyke, stating at least three times how fast he is among his overall enthusiastic statements about their new speedy corner. Among the surprising statements Jackson said of Van Dyke “We all know what he can do.” Which is an odd statement in regards to a guy who has been benched every season of his college career including nearly the duration of his senior season. It appears all he can do is lose his starting job. Well, that and run really fast.

This makes the third year in a row the Raiders have taken the fastest player in the draft. In 2009 it was WR Darrius Heyward-Bey with the seventh overall pick– a decision that has been a disaster. In 2010 it was trading former starting linebacker Kirk Morrison to move up into the fourth round and select WR Jacoby Ford– a move that looks like a steal now. Now it is taking CB DeMarcus Van Dyke in the third, a player that was projected as possibly not being drafted at all until he blazed his way down the combine track.

But with all this speed talk, what about tackling? Hue Jackson says there will be a learning process for him but that he is “willing”. That isn’t a glowing endorsement for him. He is also very light for being over six foot which is part of the reason he has difficulty tackling the larger players. It also means he will be a liability in an the run game which is something the Raiders have long struggled with.

Overall, not very much information or tape out there on this kid. In the third round, he is a reach and a risk, but you just knew Al Davis wouldn’t want to trade back to get him right?

He’s a developmental CB project that is not going to take Nnamdi Asomugha’s spot in his rookie year– perhaps never. At least he has plenty of experience playing the nickel corner spot because that is the only place he will be playing for the Raiders in the immediate future.

Probably the Raiders worst pick in the last two years. He takes the A grade I was going to give them after Wisniewski and knocks it down to a C.  

At least he sent Rod Woodson out to Miami to take a closer look at the kid. Not that it really mattered.

Levi Damien contributed to this article