2011 NFL Draft grades are trickling in now, and typically—other than last year—it is a time for us Oakland Raiders fans to once again be assaulted by the scorn of the main stream media. I haven't looked at many yet, but it already appears this going to be another year when people go overboard while criticizing the Raiders draft. I have already seen that Todd McShay has called out the Raiders for having the worst draft effort this year. We'll have more on his assessment and others later, but for now I want to focus on our ol' buddy, Mel Kiper Jr.
I have always said Mel Kiper is a level headed voice of reason that knows the Raiders as well as anyone. Wow, I almost couldn't even type that piece of sarcasm with a straight face. After all, it was just before Round Two that I openly mocked the mock master for his ignorance of all things Raiders when he projected them as needing a defensive tackle.
Mel Kiper is a wind-bag; he is often wildly wrong; he has annoyingly fabulous hair, and he can piss us all off. But, I figure I'll give credit where credit is due: in his draft grades he seems to be coming to his senses when it comes to the Raiders. Jump over for Mel's analysis...
Here is Mel Kiper's summary on the Raiders:
You could see the pick of Wisniewski coming if you know Oakland's history. Stefen's uncle, Steve, was a great Raiders offensive lineman for 13 seasons. The pick itself came out as a slight reach on my board, but I know better than to say it was a bad reach, because Oakland consistently pick guys I have rated a little lower, but they often work out. Bottom line: it's not always about value with the Raiders, it's about getting their guy. Van Dyke makes sense as a Round 3 pick -- the Raiders need a corner with the likely departure of Nnamdi Asomugha and Van Dyke is, of course, perhaps the fastest guy in the draft. The Raiders then again went offensive line and cornerback in repeat order. They upgraded their offensive line last year and had great results with Hue Jackson calling the plays, and it appears they wanted to finish the job in 2011. I was a little surprised they didn't address a clear need at outside linebacker a little earlier. They also waited until Round 5 to get a wideout, a spot I thought they might get to earlier. Another pretty good draft for the Raiders, who like their guys but don't worry as much about value.
So there it is. I always knew I loved that Mel Kiper guy! His biggest complaint was the same as most of us: the failure to address the OLB position.
Overall, he graded the Raiders with a C+. That seems a touch low until you consider that he explained his factoring for draft grades was based solely on teams addressing needs and the value of their picks. A big portion of the Raiders draft rests in potential. Plus the Raiders draft grades are going to be limited by the simple fact they did not have a first-round pick.
It is also worth mentioning, and I'd link this if I could find it again, that in a piece that comparing the first-round mock drafts of many experts Mel Kiper and Mike Mayock tied with the most correct picks. So, there you have it Mel Kiper. Take a picture, because I am giving you a pat on the back.