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What Were They Thinking?? A Story Of Past Raiders Draft Busts

If You're A True Raiders Fan You Will Laugh And Cry At The Same Time


The NFL Draft is something that can make or break a franchise. If you draft correctly, you usually get a raise at the end of the day. However, if you draft poorly, you will be picking from the same spot most of the time. Now, I'm not going to point out the obvious like JaMarcus Russell or Damon Arnette, and I'm not going to include a guy like Henry Ruggs for obvious reasons.


I'm going to list out a group of players who, when they were picked, everyone was confused and sometimes didn't even know who the player was because he wasn't even close to where he was predicted to be drafted. I know that people will say those predictions mean nothing, but come on, we as fans know when the pick is a deep stretch.


#1 Darrius Heyward-Bey WR Maryland Terrapins

Selected: 2009 1st Round Pick #7


Wow, what a memory! I remember exactly where I was sitting, what I was sitting on, and where I was living, like it was yesterday. I remember because I was extremely excited when Texas Tech WR Michael Crabtree was available at #7. If you remember Crabtree in college, he was dominant for two years. I was sitting there pumped up and ready to purchase my Crabtree jersey when the Commissioner announced, 'With the 7th pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, the Oakland Raiders select Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR from Maryland.'


I'm so glad no one was home because it wouldn't have been pretty to see my reaction. I just sat there and said "WHO.....I mean......what the.......WHO?!?!?" I was in complete shock, and it didn't help my reaction when the analysts on ESPN were just as confused as I was. It's never a good thing when Mel Kiper Jr wasn't ready for that selection either, and we know it's tough to stump Kiper Jr.


At the end of the day, Heyward-Bey didn't have a terrible NFL career and was actually a very good special teams player for the Colts and Steelers. The funny thing is that Crabtree ended up playing for the Raiders and put together three good seasons with the team. He was also part of the great 2016 team that was never able to reach its full potential because of Derek Carr's ankle injury.


#2) Clelin Ferrell DE Clemson

Selected: 2019 1st Round Pick #4


It was a time of change for the Oakland Raiders (soon to be Las Vegas Raiders). The team was moving, welcoming a new head coach (Jon Gruden) and general manager (Mike Mayock). Their tenure with the Raiders didn't get off to the best start; they released Pro Bowl WR Michael Crabtree and traded All-Pro DE Khalil Mack.


In trading Mack, the Raiders received a treasure trove of draft picks from the Chicago Bears and also held the #4 overall pick. So they would try their best to replace Mack in this draft, with names like Nick Bosa, Josh Allen, Brian Burns, Rashan Gary, and Montez Sweat topping the list of potential replacements for Mack.


So what happened? All four of the guys mentioned above have been named to a Pro Bowl since being drafted in 2019 and were available when the team handed in their card for the fourth overall pick. Just like the Heyward-Bey selection, I will always remember where I was when the commissioner announced the team's pick. I was actually doing a live show for my YouTube Channel (Big Tuna's Fumble Recovery) and was with a couple of guys just enjoying the NFL draft, but my mood would change considerably.


I was so excited because Bosa was the only pass rusher off the board, and I wanted the team to look into Josh Allen, the QB, as well. But all Raiders fans heard, 'With the fourth pick in the NFL Draft, the Oakland Raiders select Clelin Ferrell, Defensive End, Clemson.'


My reaction was the same as when they drafted Heyward-Bey; I just didn't know who Clelin Ferrell was because he was never projected to go that high. Some people had him going in the second or even third round. Rich Eisen from NFL Network's reaction was priceless. He was legitimately shocked by this pick, and it wasn't because it wasn't what they needed; it was because there were so many better players available at all other positions.


The reason this pick made the list was not so much because of Ferrell's ability. It was just odd because he was known to be a better run stopper than a pass rusher in college. However, Gruden and Mayock were looking for players with leadership qualities over ability, which doesn't make much sense. Ferrell might have never been considered a bust or a bad pick if the team had picked him in the second or third round.


We all knew Ferrell was going to have some trouble because of the shoes he was filling, and he failed miserably as a Raiders pass rusher, only recording 10 total sacks in 58 career games (He started in 30 of those games). His best year was his rookie year where he sacked the QB 4.5 times, so that means in the next 3 years he only had 5.5 sacks.


Not the best pick at number four, that's for sure. If they had picked any of those players I mentioned before, it would have been a very good pick. However, Ferrell was not the guy to pick at number four, and I believe the Raiders knew that because his fifth-year option was not picked up, and he was released after his fourth season with the team.


#3) Alex Leatherwood OL Albama

Selected: 2021 1st Round Pick # 17


This was one of the last 1st-round picks for Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock, and oh boy, was it a beauty! The funny thing is, I remember this draft, and I had no idea what direction the team was going in, but I had a few players in mind when the draft actually began. The other sad part about this draft is that it is probably unlike any other due to the lack of Pro Bowl talent that was drafted after the first round. However, there were other factors that made this pick a bust.


Leatherwood entered training camp as the starting right tackle, but he struggled. This was not surprising because he had won 2 awards the previous year for being the best interior lineman in the NCAA. At the offensive tackle position, he had trouble blocking, committing penalties, and accumulating even more penalties (mainly holding), prompting the need for a change.


I don't know if it was work ethic, preparation, or personality, but Leatherwood did not mesh well with the new coach and general manager after Jon Gruden resigned in the middle of Leatherwood's rookie year. This pick made the list because Leatherwood never even made it out of training camp before he was released from the team a little over a year after being drafted. The Raiders were proven right because he is not currently in the NFL and spent some time in Chicago and Cleveland before being unemployed.


Honorable Mention:

Mike Mitchell DB Ohio

Selected 2009 Second Round 2 #47


This one to me is the funniest, and not because Mitchell was a terrible player(he actually had a good 10nyear NFL career), it was because when they ESPN programming was cathcing up on picks. I believ it was Chris Berman, and he showed the graphic and apologized to the viewers because Mitchell was not projected to be drafted to they didn't have much information on him. I just burst out laughing because Berman also added that Mitchell had one of the fastest 40 yard dash times so he was a AL Davis type player.


This article is all in good fun, and it's about sports, so we can have a laugh at our misery of being Raiders fans. Let's hope the team makes a pick this year that will make a difference for this year and beyond. But does it really matter because we will represent the Silver and Black until the day we can't!



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