A look back: Grading Raiders 2008 draft

Jed Jacobsohn

Headlined by Darren McFadden and Tyvon Branch, was the 2008 draft Oakland's best in recent memory?

Over the next few weeks we're going to go back and evaluate the last five drafts from Oakland to see how they've panned out.

For starters, we'll go back to 2008 where Oakland held the fourth overall pick.

Overall Grade: B+

Saddled with just five picks (and only one before the fourth round), a B+ grade is fairly impressive — especially considering the team's recent draft history.

One year after going 4-12 thanks to the Jamarcus Russell debacle (he was the team's first pick in 2007), Oakland was in just as poor a position as they were 12 months earlier.

So here's a look back at how the 2008 draft panned out for the Raiders:

First Round, fourth overall — Darren McFadden (B+)

Definitely one of the team's best picks in recent memory despite his injury history.

Unfortunately, that's not saying a whole lot for Oakland.

After missing badly on three of their four previous first round picks (Robert Gallery, Fabian Washington and Jamarcus Russell), McFadden was a badly needed hit.

While rushing for more than 1,000 yards just once in five seasons, McFadden has been effective when healthy, boasting a 4.3 yards-per-carry average.

Then again, he's never played in more than 13 games in any season.

An important part of this evaluation, however, is what kind of talent other teams found right around this pick.

Following McFadden in the draft were Glenn Dorsey, Vernon Gholston, Sedrick Ellis, Derrick Harvey and Keith Rivers.

Dorsey was a name many had linked to Oakland heading into the draft, but it appears that McFadden was a better pick for Oakland.

In five seasons with Kansas City, Dorsey proved to be a decent run blocker, but never really lived up to the high expectations.

Gholston and Harvey are the two biggest busts of the group, with Gholston having been out of football since 2010, while Harvey has been out of the league since 2011.

Ellis and Rivers are arguably the two most successful of the group, however neither is a guy I would rather have than McFadden. Ellis has developed into an above average defensive lineman for the Saints and now the Bears, while Rivers has achieved the same sort of success as a linebacker.

Overall, good pick by Oakland.

Fourth Round, 100th pick — Tyvon Branch (A+)

With the first pick in the fourth round, the Oakland Raiders hit one out of the park with the selection of Tyvon Branch out of Connecticut.

Originally listed as a corner back, Branch has become one of the few bright spots on a pretty bleak defense over the past couple of seasons — even earning himself a nice contract extension before last year.

Justin King, Dwight Lowery and Reggie Corner were the next three defensive backs taken in the fourth round.

Safe to say this was a fantastic pick.

Fourth Round, 125th pick — Arman Shields (F)

Shields, a receiver out of Richmond never saw the field in the NFL, failing to record a single game played as a professional.

While fourth-round wide receivers aren't exactly sure things, the next one taken (with the very next pick) was Lavelle Hawkins from California, a guy still playing in the league today.

Sixth Round, 169th pick — Trevor Scott (B-)

While not a very productive guy, Scott has played five seasons in the NFL — tallying 58 games played in four seasons with Oakland.

2009 was the best year of Scott's career, when the defensive end out of Buffalo logged 43 tackles and seven sacks.

Scott played with the New England Patriots in 2012 and is currently a free agent.

Seventh Round, 226nd pick — Chaz Schilens (B-)

If you get a guy who makes the team in the seventh round, you have to be pleased — any production after that is gravy.

The 6'4" receiver out of San Diego State, played four seasons with Oakland before moving on to the Jets last season. In four injury-marred years, Schilens logged 72 catches for over 800 yards and seven touchdowns — not bad for the 226nd pick.

Other notable seventh round picks in 2008 include Matt Flynn and Peyton Hillis (selected one pick after Schilens).

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Overall it was a strong draft by a team that had only four picks — three of which weren't impact draft picks.

The selections of McFadden and Branch still appear to be the right picks, even five years later, given everything we know now.

Unfortunately, Shields didn't work out, but to get two productive players that gave Oakland four years of solid contributions in the sixth and seventh rounds is impressive.

This wasn't a draft that changed the entire future of the team, but if Oakland had been able to string together a couple more years like this, then they'd be in a completely different place than they are right now.

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