As Jerry McDonald of the Oakland Tribune points out, the Raiders have adopted a new draft philosophy the past 3 or so years.
While they do rely on measurables and speed, as always, Oakland is also factoring in a very important aspect in a player’s game: Heart.
The Raiders’ draft picks in the past few years- ranging from Darrius Heyward-Bey to Taiwan Jones- have something former first round pick JaMarcus Russell didn’t. Work ethic.
Oakland still stays true to its roots by drafting tall, big speedsters who look good coming off the bus. But character’s importance is rapidly increasing as Al Davis realizes he can’t fight player’s battles.
“When I decided sometime in June—I think it was June or May of this year—that we no longer, as an organization, can fight the battle of personal problems for certain players.
We tried it in the past. We had been successful with some of the greatest players who have ever played professional. And we’ve failed with some of the greatest players who ever played professional football who had personal problems.”
Hue Jackson did admit the Raiders removed players from their board due to concerns with lack of interest in football.
I think this newfound draft strategy is a testament to how Oakland is changing as an organization- and in turn, making them one of the young, up and coming teams of the league.