When I look at the Oakland Raider's draft and even the undrafted free agents that they have signed over the past two days one thing sticks out to me, there are only a few players that went to Big Football Schools and, other than McFadden, I wasn't very familiar with ANY of them.
With the team deciding on a corner back in the fourth round and trading up to do so, it would make sense to those of us who study the draft through the various ranking charts and by watching the made for TV Events, such as the Combine, Senior Bowl and Shrine Game, that they would probably take Penn State CB, Justin King.
King is an incredible talent who skipped his Senior year to come out early and could have been a First Rounder, according to Mike Mayock, had he stayed in.
The Raiders weren't buying that nonsense. You see, for every player who is supposed to get better, you have one who stays for another year and goes down in value, Brian Brohm or Matt Leinart anyone?
Nope, the Raider had their own plan. They chose a defensive back who hits hard, tackles well and is ranked highly as a Kick Returner, Tyvon Branch out of UConn.
sUConn is a Big Basketball School but as far as football goes, they have only had two people drafted in the same year five times and Branch was the third highest pick in the past 60 Years!!!
Branch played in 48 games for the Huskies with 31 starts, mainly at cornerback with one at safety. He also made a significant impact on special teams. Branch led the BIG EAST in kick returns in 2007 with a 28.9 average after becoming the first player in UConn history to return two kickoffs for a touchdown in the same season. Branch is one of seven players in BIG EAST history to accomplish this feat. Branch made 230 tackles over his Husky career, capping it in style with a team-high 10 stops in the Meineke Car Care Bowl, including a tackle for loss, while also breaking up a pass and returning three kickoffs for 109 yards. A 2007 second-team All-BIG EAST selection, Branch played in the Hula Bowl in January and was invited to Indianapolis for the NFL Scouting Combine where his 4.31 second 40-yard dash led all defensive backs.
"It's great for Tyvon and great for our program," UConn head coach Randy Edsall said. "It's also exciting to see the Raiders trade up to draft him because it shows that they really want Tyvon. It is exciting to see him selected by a franchise with such a great history and tradition and I'm sure he'll do well with the Raiders."Tyvon is a young man who had one Division I-A offer coming out of high school and he is a great example of the good things that can happen if you work hard and take advantage of your opportunity. He has shown that hard work can pay off."To graduate in three and a half years and get drafted is a great testament to Tyvon. He has had a fulfilling career here at UConn with a BIG EAST Championship and two bowl games. I couldn't be happier for him. The Raiders are getting a young man of very high character in Tyvon."
This young man is NOT ONLY a gifted athlete but he is also a very bright individual and you will see that as a common thread amoung the Raider draft Picks as well.