The Oakland Raiders have been struggling ever since they lost to Jon Gruden and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Super Bowl. When looking at what went wrong for the Raiders, one could look at a multitude of factors, but one of those factors that clearly had a large impact were their failures in the draft.
Since 2002, the Raiders have made 21 draft picks in the first two rounds of the NFL draft. Of those 21 guys, four remain on the team right now, and one of those four, Rolando McClain, is expected to be released any day. The other three players are Darren McFadden, Stefen Wisniewski and Lamarr Houston.
Houston and Wisniewski are likely mainstays on the Raiders for years to come. McFadden on the other hand, could very well be at risk of being moved himself. He will be a free agent after next season, is injury prone and is coming off one of his worst seasons in the NFL. Given the purge that occurred on the first day of free agency, it is clear that McKenzie is not afraid to make the big decisions. I would not be surprised at all if McKenzie trades McFadden given the right offer.
In the salary cap era of the NFL, it is impossible to build a winning franchise without having good drafts. Free agency is too expensive to fill even most spots on your roster. In addition, before the current collective bargaining agreement, rookies were grossly overpaid, making a poor draft choice even more painful and harder to overcome.
If the Raiders hope to get back to the days when they were one of the best teams in the league, they will need to improve their drafting. General manager Reggie McKenzie is known to be a good judge of talent, especially at the college level and is expected to be a very good drafter. The Raiders still don't have a full compliment of draft picks this season, but they have more than last year, and they have a first round pick. That should be enough for McKenzie to show his capabilities and reverse the trend of poor drafting by the Raiders.