ILB Rolando McClain. DT Lamarr Houston. OT Jared Veldheer. OT Bruce Campbell. WR Jacoby Ford.
QB Jason Campbell.
There's little argument that the Oakland Raiders had one of the most surprising drafts this past weekend- and it was all thumbs up. They had plenty of movement (trading a 2012 4th rounder for QB Jason Campbell, trading ILB Kirk Morrison and a 5th rounder for a 4th round selection) and all motions were pointing towards the win column. They have legitimate claim to having improved this off-season.
Jason Campbell, despite all the Raiders fans who love Bruce Gradkowski, is heads and shoulders above all other Raiders QBs and since Donovan McNabb found his way to the Redskins, Campbell became expendable. The Raiders swooped in and made a great play to grab a new starting QB.
And all those worries about Campbell not being protected? Veldheer and Campbell were both projected as second round prospects, with Veldheer being a raw talent and Campbell being pure muscle and potential. In fact, Campbell was oft mocked to the Raiders at #8 overall. They DID get him at the 8th pick. But it was the 8th pick of the fourth round.
So let's get this straight. The Raiders greatly improved their offensive line. They greatly, in my opinion, improved their quarterback situation. They grabbed another speedy weapon for their quarterback. They greatly improved their defensive front 7. What? The Raiders? Yeah.
Now I'm not saying that the Raiders will be a powerhouse this upcoming season- one could even argue that they still are in the cellar of the AFC West with the Chargers being top dog, the Chiefs making leaping improvements and the Broncos...well the Broncos are the reason why I wouldn't declare the Raiders the cellar team. What I am saying is that the Raiders may have made the movement into mediocrity.
They managed to defeat some of the best teams in the league this past season. They faltered against the bad teams. What if these new players help them beat the bad teams? What if they continue to beat the good teams? This is an 8-8 team now. They may have reached mediocrity.
This is not good for the Patriots. The Patriots own the Oakland Raiders 2011 NFL draft first round selection. It seemed as if they were destined for a top 5 selection. Now, it seems as if they're fighting out of the top 10. That's the difference between Gerald McCoy and Tyson Alualu. That's the difference between Joe Thomas and Tedd Ginn Jr.
The Raiders are making moves these days. Maybe it will help them in the AFC West. Maybe these selections will make them a more consistent team. Maybe this is now a team to fear.
Or maybe they'll just be the Raiders.