Last year my #hotpicks were Kyle Long (son of God- too easy, really) and Keenan Allen, who slid into the third round yet ended up sharing in the various Rookie Of The Year honors with Eddie Lacy. As a result, I now have a proven track record as a football genius.
After his initial comically inept efforts, Raiders' GM Reggie "Duds" McKenzie did well enough for us in free agency. Not spectacular, but solid. I grudgingly accept Matt Schaub as our opening day QB, as there were no better options out there and I would prefer the Raiders don't draft one with their first pick. "No better options" pretty much sums up our free agency haul, we did what we could, and most importantly, all the contracts were at least sane, if not favorable to the team. The whole point of being so awful the last two years was to get the salary structure under control, and nothing was done this offseason to compromise that. One positive thing we can definitely say about Reggie, as was evidenced by the quick banishment of last year's fourth round pick Tyler Wilson- he's not making moves out of self-preservation.
But regardless, his job is on the line the next three days. It didn't take a genius to sign Justin Tuck and Lamarr Woodley, and then MJD and James Jones after their price on the open market wasn't what they had hoped it would be. A GM makes his mark in the draft, and Reggie has been shaky in that regard. The jury is still out on last year. First round pick CB D.J. Hayden has reportedly been a workout warrior the past few months, trying to get back into peak physical condition after his fucking heart exploded his last year in college. Second round pick Menelik Watson basically redshirted last year with persistent calf issues. He's being penciled in as our starting RT this season, with hope that he may eventually develop into a NFL-caliber LT. If those two guys step up and produce this year, they'll be doing Reggie a big favor.
Draft scuttlebutt surrounding the Raiders this year has been interesting. The franchise and the fans seem to generally be on the same page, that everybody wants an "impact" player other than a QB with the fifth pick. The first mocks had the top of the draft loaded with QBs and OTs, many of them even suggesting the Raiders had a very good chance of snagging Clowney with the fifth pick. That is definitely not going to happen now. But exactly what is going to happen, nobody seems to know. Consensus opinion is that we're hoping to get Sammy Watkins or Khalil Mack at #5. If neither one of them are there, the Raiders will likely either take one of the top tackle prospects as a consolation prize or trade down. The rumor mill has them preferring Taylor Lewan to Jake Matthews. There has also been some talk of the Raiders taking Mike Evans #5, perhaps even over Watkins. Aaron Donald is another name attached to the Raiders, and all teams drafting after them in the top ten.
Personally, I want Sammy Watkins. Strangely enough for an acknowledged scouting genius, I don't pretend to know shit about college football. But I know Sammy Watkins was the shit before he got to Clemson, and hasn't disappointed. The players that you hear about before they even get to college, who are still on top of the pile when they come out for the draft... yes please. And while I am the last guy to espouse a philosophy of basing a draft on "selling jerseys," the Raiders could use a guy who's name us fans would rock on the back of a jersey. Sebastian Janikowski did not cut it as the face of the franchise, even before he turned to crap last year. And this team has been so bad for so long that it's seemingly become nearly impossible for some of our own fans to fathom the concept of an electric play-maker wearing silver and black. You turn a team around by beefing up the offensive line, no doubt. But you can do that without spending top ten picks, and last year Tony Sparano proved he can coach up whatever guys off the street you give him. Offensive coordinator Greg Olson somehow milked a lot of big plays out of an offense shy on talent last year. Let's give him a serious stud and see what happens. I think it's safe to assume Watkins would scare the rest of the AFC West more than any tackle we could draft.
So, please join me at 5 PM PST in praying for quarterbacks and tackles to get drafted 1-4. Not that I haven't done more than my part already- Tuesday night we had our second annual GO RAIDERS HEY REGGIE DON'T SCREW THE POOCH NFL DRAFT SPECTACULAR at the night job, featuring nothing but East Bay rap. And I took it to the next level this year- instead of all Raiders gear, I wore my official Niner-hating shirt, because it's been bringing in the results lately. I had an "I <3 GOOD VIBES" t-shirt made by Zappos the day after the 2013 Super Bowl, in honor of the Niners losing and the Volkswagen commercial. Yes, I am that fucking serious about this shit. I wore that shirt when Richard Sherman tipped that pass away from SORRY ASS Crabtree, I wore that shirt Tuesday night, and I will be wearing it this evening. I'm pretty sure it means that the Raiders will be winning the next eight Super Bowls.
Go Raiders. Go Reggie. Or else it's going to be "go, Reggie."