Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE
The Oakland Raiders looked like they had made their safest draft pick in years with Rolando McClain, so what went wrong?
The Oakland Raiders under former owner Al Davis was known for making controversial draft picks. From Sebastian Janikowski to Darrius Heyward-Bey, Al Davis was never afraid to go against popular thinking and choose players much earlier than most had valued them. As a result, the Raiders are frequently the butt of jokes about failed draft selections.
So why, then, did Rolando McClain go so bad when he was supposed to be the safest pick the Raiders had made in years?
The overly simple answer is tied to another Al Davis tendency, his steadfast opinion that he could get the most out of players in spite of their supposed character flaws. During their heyday, the Raiders were known for taking players who had failed to produce on other teams, often because of real or perceived character flaws.
This tendency to ignore character flaws by the Raiders has had a big impact on the team in recent years due to two of the biggest draft busts in recent years. The first time came in the form of the purple one, JaMarcus Russell, a guy with immense talent, but who was lazier than Garfield on a Sunday morning.
Now, it is becoming clear that the Raiders chose to ignore some serious character flaws in Rolando McClain as well. When he was drafted, one would swear he was the golden child of football, not a negative word was spoken (aside from slight concern over his speed).
But it is the on the filed play that is most obvious and most discussed leading into a draft. Often times, character flaws are only discovered during the interviews with potential draft picks that teams routinely have before making their choice. As a result, the general public, and even many of the sports talk personalities who pride themselves on draft analysis, did not realize how big of a problem McClain's attitude would be, but they did not have the ability to do a pre draft interview.
Whether the Raiders did not look into McClain's character, or they looked into it but chose not to be concerned with it, one thing has become clear in recent years, the Raiders must do a better job of analyzing the character of their draft picks.