Buzzing on Yahoo Sports:

Why a Successful First-Round Pick is Vital to the Oakland Raiders' Success in 2013

Team Hasn't Had a Solid First-Rounder SInce 2000

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | In his prime, Al Davis was an absolute genius when it came to finding talent. Actually, he was more of a mad scientist.

Throughout the mid-1960s-70s, Davis drafted Hall of Famers Fred Biletnikoff, Gene Upshaw, Art Shell and Dave Casper.

He also drafted Kenny Stabler, Jack Tatum and Mark van Eeghen during those same glory days when the Oakland Raiders reigned supreme in the NFL.

Heck, Davis was even crazy enough to spend his first round pick of the 1973 NFL draft on a punter; a punter by the name of Ray Guy who would go on to have the most successful career of any punter in league history.

But as he got older and the game began to pass him by, Davis' ability to draft dependable players began to fade away.

The Raiders have the No. 3 overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft, and it couldn't have come at a better time.

Oakland is coming off a disheartening season that featured a new general manger in Reggie McKenzie, and a rookie head coach in Dennis Allen.

Most importantly, the Raiders were without Davis, the man who made transformed the franchise from the laughing stock of the old AFL, to the most recognizable football team in the world.

Now, after a 4-12 season, the Raiders are more desperate than ever to draft a player who will take the league by storm.

They need someone to wear the silver and black with pride, the way all the Raiders did during the glory days of the 1970s.

It's been 13 years since Oakland has had a successful first-round pick. It was Sebastian Janikowski, go figure; a kicker built like a linebacker with the power and accuracy that had never been seen before.

Janikowski still remains a Raider, but the team hasn't fared well with first-round draft picks since they took him No. 17 overall in 2000.

Since then, Oakland has failed miserably when it comes to finding first-round talent.

2004 first-round pick Robert Gallery was a bum and retired after a horrible career as a disappointing offensive tackle.

2006 first-rounder Michael Huff is still on the team, but has never played well enough to be worthy of being selected No. 7 overall.

Rolando McClain was drafted No. 8 by the Raiders in 2010, but he's made more headlines for his arrests and off-field antics than actually making tackles.

And who could forget JaMarcus Russell in 2007?

Arguably the biggest draft bust in the history of professional sports, Russell only played three seasons in Oakland and finished his career with 18 touchdowns, 23 interceptions and an alarming 23 fumbles.

Oh yeah, he was also arrested for possessing codeine syrup in 2010 after he ballooned up 50 or so pounds since being drafted just three years before.

Only the Raiders.

Oakland hasn't had a first-round pick since drafting McClain in 2010 due to trades, which makes 2013's first-round pick that much more important.

The Raiders were once a team to be feared, but were also a team others wanted to play for.

Now they find themselves desperate to get back to the glory days of old, or even relevant for that matter.

The city's rugged aura and dangerous reputation gave the Raiders the "bad boy" image, and it was players like Tatum, Stabler and Biletnikoff that made them tick.

With a successful history, a proud legacy, and one of the most loyal fan bases in the world wearing the silver and black with pride, the Oakland Raiders need to play the type of football they're capable of playing; with determination, dedication and heart.

That's the way Davis would have wanted it.

Steven Slivka is a Featured Columnist for the Oakland Raiders. You can follow him on Twitter @stevenslivka

Sign up for Yahoo Fantasy Football
View Comments (56)