The landscape of the NFL is filled with the wreckage of once promising careers. It's dotted with the burned out husks of players and careers that for any number of reasons, flamed out. Regardless of what sport you're talking about, drafting players out of college is an inexact science, and is filled with risks. A player may have had a stellar college career and been an impact player, but you just never know if their game will translate to the next level.
The Oakland Raiders, like every other team in the NFL, have had their fair share of draft successes and hidden gems. Also like every other team, the Raiders have had their fair share-- more than their fair share depending on who you talk to-- of draft busts. When it comes to draft day failures, the Raiders most definitely have some real doozies in their background. They've used high picks to draft guys who never made the roster coming out of camp. They've used high picks on players who have been traded or released a season or two after they'd been drafted. They've also used high picks on players who never lived up to their billing, players like offensive lineman Robert Gallery-- somebody most people label as a bust-- who was a serviceable lineman for a number of years, but was never overwhelming, and never lived up to the pre-draft hype.
The Raiders have a very checkered past when it comes to the draft. When they miss on a pick, they tend to miss BIG. On many different occasions across many different years, the Raiders thought they'd found a sure thing, a foundation piece that the team could build around. And on many different occasions, they were wrong. Way wrong. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but here are just ten of them...
10 Fabian Washington, 23rd Overall (2005)
9 Matt Stinchcomb, 18th Overall (1999)
The Raiders haven't had a great history when it comes to drafting offensive linemen. Matt Stinchcomb is just one more log on that particular bonfire. Drafted to be a foundation piece for the offensive line for years to come, as well as the protection for quarterback Rich Gannon's blindside, Stinchcomb never lived up to the expectations the team had for him when they used the eighteenth overall pick on the University of Georgia product. Stinchcomb's game never elevated to the level it needed to be at in the NFL. He was so bad that midway through his rookie season, he lost the starting job to Barry Sims-- a free agent signed from the NFL Europe.
8 Rickey Dudley, 9th Overall (1996)
The tight end position is another one that you don't often see teams using high picks on. But coming out of Ohio State, the 6'6” 250+ pound Rickey Dudley seemed to have tremendous upside, as well as having the potential to create some nightmarish match-up scenarios for opposing defenses. Dudley wasn't horrible, but he was never anything special, either. He was an average player. At best. Which, given the fact that the Raiders used the 9th overall pick in the 1996 draft on him, qualifies him as a pretty big bust.
7 Patrick Bates, 12th Overall (1993)
6 John Clay, 15th Overall (1987)
At 6'5” and 300 lbs., John Clay was an All-American offensive tackle at the University of Missouri back in 1986. He was a dominating force in college and was expected to be an anchor on the offensive line for years to come. Salivating at the thought of having such a behemoth of a man as the foundation on their line, the Raiders took Clay with the 15th overall pick in the 1987 draft. Needless to say, things with Clay didn't work out quite as the Raiders had planned.
5 Marc Wilson, 15th Overall (1980)
In 1980, Raiders quarterback Jim Plunkett was getting older, and the team was looking for a young gun to bring in who would eventually succeed Plunkett. Coming out of the very quarterback-friendly program at BYU, Wilson had lit up the record books. The Raiders loved what they saw and took him with the fifteenth overall pick in the 1980 draft. It was mid-way through the 1983 season when Wilson took over as the starter for the Raiders but found himself injured just a couple of games later. Plunkett came back and while filling in for Wilson, led the Raiders to another Super Bowl title-- his second with the team.
4 Todd Marinovich, 24th Overall (1991)
3 Rolando McClain, 8th Overall (2010)
2 Darren McFadden, 4th Overall (2008)
At the University of Arkansas, Darren McFadden was an electric runner. He was a threat to break a long run on any given play and defenses were forced to key on him. It was this explosiveness and electricity that led the Raiders to use the fourth overall pick of the 2008 draft on McFadden. He was immediately handed a six-year, $60.1 million dollar contract with the expectation that he would ignite the Raider offense. To say that was a waste of $60 million dollars would be an understatement. D-Mac had one good season of the six-- in 2010, he rushed for 1,157 yards in 13 games played for a very healthy 5.2 yards per carry average. He added seven touchdowns as well as 507 yards receiving that season. But that season turned out to have been an anomaly.
1 JaMarcus Russell, 1st Overall (2007)
Ahhhh yes, what list of draft busts would be complete without JaMarcus Russell at the top? Not only does JaMarcus Russell have the distinction of being the biggest bust in franchise history, he is arguably, the biggest bust in NFL history-- though, Ryan Leaf and Tony Mandarich might have something to say about that. Coming out of LSU, Russell was everything the late Al Davis wanted in a quarterback and more. He was big-- really big-- he was mobile and he had a cannon for an arm. In a possibly apocryphal story, Russell once threw a ball 60 (or more depending on the telling) yards from his knees. But Davis couldn't contain his excitement about the quarterback, and used the first overall pick in the 2007 draft on the LSU product.
Once hitting the NFL though, Russell became the exact opposite of everything he was in college. He seemed to have suddenly forgotten how to be a quarterback, and what's worse is that he didn't really seem to care. Multiple sources cited his horrible work ethic, his laziness, his lack of knowledge of the playbook, his poor attitude, and to hear some sources tell it, his limited intelligence were all factors that contributed to his undoing. The number one overall pick, and the tens of millions of dollars the Raiders paid Russell netted them next to nothing in return. He lasted three seasons in Silver and Black, compiling a less than awesome 7-18 record as a starter, threw 18 touchdowns against 23 interceptions and racked up a completely underwhelming 65.2 quarterback rating. Most people expect a little bit more production out of a number one overall pick. In May 2009, the Raiders released JaMarcus Russell and ended one of the most terrible eras in franchise history. Though the legacy of Russell-- meaning the amount of money the team owed him-- has haunted the franchise for many years after.
Leave A Comment
Looking for an AD FREE EXPERIENCE on TheRichest?Get Your Free Access Now!