As news broke this morning that the Tennessee Titans were signing Oakland rookie Tyler Wilson off of the practice squad, the spotlight shone back onto the Oakland front office, reviving a memory they had hoped to forget.
Heading into the season without a quarterback they felt was a long-term answer, the Raiders selected Wilson with their fourth-round pick this year — a rookie out of Arkansas who had some serious upside. At the time, many thought the pick could bring Oakland great value, considering Wilson was projected as a first-rounder just twelve months earlier.
At the start of mini-camp, Wilson was even the talk of camp — earning high praises from most folks who saw him. As is often the case, however, when pads were put on, things changed.
By the time the season was set to begin, Wilson was placed on waivers before ever seeing a regular season game — to make matters worse, there wasn't a team in the league interested. Wilson was then re-signed to the practice squad, where he stayed for the remainder of his time in Oakland — even watching undrafted rookie Matt McGloin take over the starting job many thought might be his some day.
From Oakland's perspective, they probably wish they had just let Wilson remain a free agent from the day he cleared waivers. Then, at least, they wouldn't have today's reminder of what a failed pick it was.
For general manager Reggie McKenzie, however, this is a problem that needs to be addressed.
In two seasons thus far, McKenzie has gotten a pass from me thanks to the mess of a salary cap he inherited. With no cap space (and no first or second round pick two years ago), McKenzie had built in excuses all around him — not to mention a first year head coach.
But now, 14 weeks into McKenzie's second season, questions need to be raised. Sure, free agency hasn't been an option, but of the 16 draft picks McKenzie has made, very few have made an impact.
In 2012, without a pick in the first two rounds thanks to the Carson Palmer trade, the Raiders selected Tony Bergstrom, Miles Burris, Jack Crawford, Juron Criner, Chriso Bilukidi and Nathan Stupar.
While Burris was productive as a rookie and hurt this season, the rest of that group has been a massive disappointment. Crawford and Bilukidi have combined for 20 tackles this season, Criner has three catches and Bergstrom and Stupar are both off the team.
Of course, McKenzie would be quick to point to Rod Streater, and undrafted player he signed last season from Temple, who is arguably Oakland's best weapon on offense this season. Even so, adding one contributor from an entire draft class (even without their first two picks) is unacceptable for a team in the condition Oakland is.
This season, McKenzie was given a full slate of draft picks — 10 in all — and he selected DJ Hayden, Menelik Watson, Sio Moore, Tyler Wilson, Nick Kasa, Latavius Murray, Mychal Rivera, Stacy McGee, Brice Butler and David Bass.
Hayden, Watson and Murray have all missed significant time with injuries, so it's tough to gauge their talents this season. Of the guys who have played, Mychal Rivera has been the most impressive — ranking third on the team in receptions and second in receiving touchdowns.
Also on the offensive side of the ball are Kasa and Butler, who have just nine catches between them this season (with all nine belonging to Butler). Defensively, Sio Moore has shown flashes of potential, as has McGee, but neither has been a serious game-changer. Like Wilson, Bass is no longer with the Raiders.
It's obviously too early to tell with a lot of these guys — especially the 2013 class — but with 16 draft picks in two seasons, one would expect some tangible results already. In reality, there's a good chance that Oakland only ends up with 2-3 contributors from these two classes (and none of them appear to be elite contributors).
As I noted at the beginning, there are plenty of general managers who whiff on drafts without ever being second guessed, but when your team is hamstrung, you need to use whatever resources you have to improve the team. Unfortunately for McKenzie, he just hasn't done that.
While I would vote for Allen's firing at the end of this season, however, I do think McKenzie deserves one more season with another full draft class and some cap space to work with.
If 2014 looks anything like this season, however, it might be time for Oakland to start all over.