Rarely do we get to see what NFL teams are thinking in their draft evaluations. But this weekend, someone ‘stumbled upon' a binder that was filled with Raiders draft evaluations from 2010 and posted some of the results. Though the entire binder was not revealed, there was some pretty interesting stuff that was.
Overall, it shows the Raiders had a pretty competent scouting department, even if they weren't often properly utilized. Just looking at their tight end draft board would tell you they can analyze talent. Their top four tight ends were Rob Gronkowski, Jermaine Gresham, Aaron Hernandez, and Jimmy Graham. By the way, the Raiders traded out of the 42 overall spot in the draft where the Patriots then took Gronk. D'OH!
There were some notable names on their board for wide receivers as well. Dez Bryant and Demaryius Thomas were the lone projected first rounders. Others on the board were Eric Decker as a round 2-3 prospect, Jacoby Ford as a round 4 pick (who the Raiders actually traded up to get in the fourth), and Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown in round 5.
Unfortunately, the Raiders had wasted their top pick the previous year on wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey and they were too busy hoping he would develop to take a shot at a wide receiver in this draft.
Their quarterback evaluations seemed fairly accurate as well in a considerably weak class. Sam Bradford was the top quarterback, with Jimmy Clausen behind him, and the Raiders raised major concerns with both of them.
Clausen even as the second quarterback on the board, was criticized for "Herky-jerky arm action", not having "natural rhythm needed to be accurate", "major concerns" about his arm strength, and his maturity. The best nugget in there was the question posed "Will he piss everybody off immediately or capture the locker room?"
Bradford raised major injury red flags which continued in the NFL. Though they said he "makes good decisions and is a respected leader." One out of two aint bad. He sure made a great decision signing that huge contract with the Eagles, but has shown a complete lack of leadership demanding to be traded after the Eagles moved up to get a quarterback in the draft. Which makes the question in the eval "How will he fare under pressure?" take on a new meaning. And the answer is ‘not well.'
Their QB board has Tim Tebow all the way seventh below Bradford, Clausen, Colt McCoy, Mike Kafka, Sean Canfield, and Tony Pike. And yet the Broncos traded up into the first round to get Tebow. Brilliant!
What I found most interesting was the evaluation of Earl Thomas, who the Raiders passed on at 8th overall in favor of Rolando McClain. Thomas would end up going to Seattle at pick 14.
The Raiders said of Thomas:
"This is the most versatile safety in the draft in my opinion. He can cover every position on the field. He has the best anticipation on the field. He has hardly any wasted motion coming out of breaks. He is another guy that plays with great passion and energy. He doesn't tackle as well as Berry but covers better. He seems to lead by example rather than verbally. I believe he also has the best hands of the safeties this year too."
"He does everything you want to see in a safety. He has no limitations. He is a very productive football player."
Here is the entire evaluation:
Some might wonder with an evaluation like that, why didn't the Raiders take Thomas? Well, McClain was one of the best middle linebackers to come out in a while. Based on his skillset and physical traits, he was a great selection and the Raiders were looking to upgrade from Kirk Morrison, so they made the pick. Then later in the draft they traded Morrison to move up and get the aforementioned Jacoby Ford.
At safety, the Raiders already had 2006 first round pick Michael Huff and 2008 fourth round pick Tyvon Branch in place. And just a year before, they grabbed Mike Mitchell in the second round. They simply weren't in the market for a safety. Likewise for Gronk, being that the Raiders still had Pro Bowl tight end Zach Miller in house.
What also part of what makes the Earl Thomas evaluation so interesting is the Raiders used the exact same pick to get Karl Joseph in this year's draft as the Seahawks used to get Thomas in 2010. And Joseph compares very favorably to Thomas in many respects.
Even if Rolando McClain appeared to be the right pick at the time (I certainly thought so) it's hard not to look at some of these evaluations and the players who were available like Dez Bryant, Demaryius Thomas, Earl Thomas and Rob Gronkowski, knowing the Raiders thought highly of them as well and wonder what might have been. At least they got the guy they hope is their Earl Thomas equivalent six years later, right?