COMMENTARY | Not every Oakland Raiders draft pick is an airhead or ineffective player (which can be hard to believe).
In the past decade, most of Al Davis' hand-selected athletes failed to develop into NFL contributors. But the draft consistently provided so much talent through seven rounds, even (the senile) Davis' wild potshots occasionally hit.
The late owner unearthed a handful of gems that drew scoffs on draft day, but the youngsters trained their tails off and earned the last laugh. Here were the best values:
10) Brandon Myers, 2009 - Round 6 (202)
Myers recorded pedestrian numbers (34 catches for 441 yards and four touchdowns) as a senior at the University of Iowa, but Davis took a flyer on the tight end after noticing his hands of glue. The Hawkeye won the starting job following Kevin Boss' release in 2012 and justified the choice by recording 79 receptions for 806 yards, leading the team in both categories. The New York Giants rewarded Myers' production when they signed him to a four year, $14 million contract in March.
9) Miles Burris, 2012 - Round 4 (129)
A Reggie McKenzie selection, Burris was a standout at San Diego State (like the hyped Kirk Morrison) and performed well at the NFL combine. The weakside linebacker was not expected to play a major role as a rookie until Aaron Curry damaged his knee, which was a silent blessing. Burris positioned himself effectively on rushing plays and eventually replaced Rolando McClain on passing downs, holding his own defending the air. While the pro will have to compete with Nick Roach and Kevin Burnett to retain his role, the 24 year old should have the upper hand.
8) Michael Bush, 2007 - Round 4 (100)
Credit Davis for drafting a running back with a broken leg, a move that would cost most general managers their posts. Bush shattered his right tibia in Louisville's season opener, and missed his entire rookie campaign to recover. After two years from the gridiron, the back became a valuable reserve for the Raiders, filling in for a nicked up Darren McFadden and Justin Fargas while providing punch at the goal line. Bush scored 15 rushing touchdowns in two seasons before leaving as a free agent to the Chicago Bears in 2012.
7) Denarius Moore, 2011 - Round 5 (148)
Playing with a chip on his shoulder pad, Moore exploded on the scene as an NFL freshman, hauling in five catches for 146 yards and a score in his week two debut against the Buffalo Bills. The 6', 190 pound wide receiver quickly surpassed Darrius Heyward-Bey and friends with his electrifying play, and he is currently penciled in as Oakland's top aerial target.
6) Zach Miller, 2007 - Round 2 (38)
Unlike Doug Jolley (a fellow second roundee), Miller was an outstanding blocker in addition to his downfield dominance. The tight end possessed ideal size (6'5", 255 pounds) and unexpected speed, making him a chore to budge off the line of scrimmage. From 2008 to 2010, Miller hauled in 182 passes (99 going for first downs) for 2268 yards and nine touchdowns, with a chunk of the contributions coming from JaMarcus Russell. The Arizona State alum signed in 2011 with the Seattle Seahawks.
5) Justin Fargas, 2003 - Round 3 (96)
Fargas was Huggy Bear's son and an underrated halfback (so in other words, he was a cool dude). While incredibly injury-prone, the USC star was often mistaken for a two-legged gazelle (4.32 40 time) and embraced leading with his helmet and providing pass protection. Fargas has only one 1,000 yard season to his name, but the fact the ball carrier survived four coaching staff overhauls proves his value as a Raider.
4) Darren McFadden , 2008 - Round 1 (4)
McFadden hasn't lived up to the promise of his collegiate career, but he still has the upside to justify spending the fourth overall choice. Considering Glenn Dorsey, Vernon Gholston, Sedrick Ellis and Derrick Harvey followed the pick (while only Dorsey and Ellis developed into something substantial), Oakland narrowly dodged disaster. When McFadden isn't dealing with nagging leg woes, he is a complete tailback on the cusp of joining the NFL's elite. In the last season of his rookie deal, the 25 year old still has a chance to conclusively validate the selection.
3) Tyvon Branch, 2008 - Round 4 (100)
With a 4.31 40 time, Branch could likely outrun a speeding shotgun slug. A stellar cornerback and kick returner at Connecticut, the Raiders drafted the 6', 210 pounder as a project, converting him to strong safety. As a full time starter in 2009, Branch displayed his knack for hard hits, collecting 98 solo tackles (124 total), a sack and two forced fumbles. The veteran hasn't shown the best ball tracking skills, but his ceiling is nearly limitless, which partly influenced McKenzie to extend the safety's deal in 2012 by four years and $26.6 million.
2) Jared Veldheer, 2010 - Round 3 (69)
The revolving door at left tackle was finally plugged by Veldheer who is already a better pass blocker than Barry Sims in his prime. Despite being 6'8" and 320 pounds, most NFL scouts overlooked the mountain enrolled at Hillsdale, which Davis kept secret. An above-average run blocker for his position and stout back peddler against speed and bull rushers, Veldheer may anchor Oakland's offensive line until 2025.
1) Nnamdi Asomugha, 2003 - Round 1 (31)
Asomugha's selection was critically panned, and he temporarily looked like a bust, but like Albert Einstein the corner was a slow developer. The Cal-Berkeley grad commanded the nation's attention in 2006 when he intercepted eight throws, deflected 19 more attempts, and dished out 50 tackles, 48 of which solo (for a 2-14 squad, no less). Following All Pro recognition, quarterbacks blatantly refused to test the horrifying man defender. Asomugha became the highest annually paid defensive back in NFL history when he signed a three year, $45.3 million pact in 2009 to stay with the Raiders, but due to clauses in the deal he was released in 2011, where he proceeded to anger the city of Philadelphia with his underwhelming coverage.
Rui Thomas is a freelance sports writer who is published by Goldengatesports.com and Radiosurvivor.com. Follow his tweets @MrRuiThomas.
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