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Raiders 2009-11 draft classes get Pro Football Focus grade treatment

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Mike Ehrmann

Pro Football Focus is known for handing out grades for players based on on-field performance. Now, I suppose just for the fun of it, they have decided to put that same grading system to use with regard to a team's drafting prowess.

For this, they used the drafts from 2009 to 2011 which would be the three years prior to the Raiders new regime came in.

The scale tops out at 2.0 and bottoms out at -2.0 based on performance/contribution in relation to where the player was drafted. Plainly put, +2.0 is Tom Brady and -2.0 is JaMarcus Russell. Most others fall inbetween somewhere.

As far as the +2.0 grade -- finding a star player in the lower rounds -- the Raiders didn't have any of those.

The +1.5 grade is what they call "Getting much more than you bargained for" which I would assume is finding a solid starter in the late rounds. The Raiders were not credited with any of those either.

The +1.0 grade is called "The scouts nailed it!" In this category the Raiders had two players - Jared Veldheer and Lamarr Houston who, as we know, both just left as free agents. These two were drafted by the Raiders in consecutive rounds in 2010. It would have been a great overall draft if not for huge bust, Rolando McClain in the first round.

Here is what PFF had to say about Veldheer and Houston:

Lamarr Houston, DE (44th overall pick in 2010): Even as a rookie it was clear the team had found something in Houston. His pass rushing performances were far from consistent but his generally good work against the run was encouraging. He's only got better since then, amassing a +39.9 grade in 3,391 snaps. Simply amazing that the team was happy for his time as part of Raider Nation to come to an end.

Jared Veldheer, OT (70th overall pick in 2010): He would likely be higher but for an injury that effectively ruined his 2013 season. Veldheer, who for some reason spent part of his rookie season playing center, developed into one of the best young left tackles in the league, highlighted by his fantastic 2012.

The next level down is +0.5 or what they call a "solid contributor". There were five other players in those three drafts who were given positive grades.

Matt Shaughnessy (third round)

Brandon Myers (sixth round)

Jacoby Ford (fourth round)

Stefen Wisniewski (second round)

Denarius Moore (fifth round)

That's a total of seven players out of 24 players in three drafts to get a positive grade. And of these positive graded players only two are still on the team -- Stefen Wisniewski and Denarius Moore. Ugh.

From there is the 0.0 grade, or what they call "It could have been worse." Among the six players listed here we find a player the Raiders gave up on too soon - Stevie Brown (seventh round) -- and a tight end who has yet to live up to his potential - David Ausberry (seventh round).

Speaking of players the Raiders gave up on, or rather in this case never really had much of a chance - Mike Mitchell (second round). He went on to be a successful starter in Carolina and just signed a deal with the Steelers. He tops the list of picks "not put to good use" of whom receive a -0.5 grade. Also in this section are current Raiders Taiwan Jones (fourth round), and Chimdi Chekwa (fourth round).

From there it gets ugly. The -1.0 grade, or what is called "What a waste!" has four names on it.

Slade Norris (fourth round) - Just like Tyler Wilson last year, a fourth round pick who didn't make the team out of camp. A waste indeed.

Rolando McClain (8th overall pick) - Not sure I need to say anything here. Waste of air.

DeMarcus Van Dyke (third round) - An infamous Al Davis speed pick after running a 4.28 40-yard-dash at the combine. He didn't put that speed to good use and was burnt routinely.

Joe Barksdale (third round) - Became a starter in St Louis but was cut before his second season in Oakland. To be fair though, Barksdale may have needed that wake-up call to live up to his potential.

Then we are reaching the bottom of the barrel. What PFF refers to as "The Scouts/coaches failed, big time!" In this case there was just one Raiders scout who fell in love with this player's feet while ignoring his hands. We all know that "scout's" name. Here is what PFF had to say about the player known more commonly as Drops Hella Balls.

Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR (7th overall pick in 2009): In his rookie year he would play less than fourth rounder Louis Murphy yet still manage to earn a grade nearly three times as bad (-14.8 receiving). His sophomore season wasn't much better and while he did improve it was to nowhere near a level that this could be considered anything but a failed pick. "DHB" dropped too many balls (24 during his time with the team compared to 140 catches) and didn't make anywhere near enough big plays. Picking at seven overall you should at the least be finding a better than average starter, not one who is way below.

There was one final category. It is the -2.0 level and as you might guess that level is named after a former Raider draft pick -- JaMarcus Russell. But since Russell was drafted in 2007, he is not listed on the grade that bears his and Ryan Leaf's name.

PFF has not finished grading all the teams' drafts so there is no overview upon which to base how the Raiders did compared to the rest of the league. They also didn't add up the scores and with each team having a different number of picks, I'm not sure how they would find their final figure. Suffice it to say with just 7 positive grades out of 24 picks it doesn't speak well of their success rate.