Raiders in running for top draft pick

Raiders in running for top draft pick
December 30th, 2006  
Team Infidel

Topic: Raiders in running for top draft pick

Raiders in running for top draft pick


Associated Press

ALAMEDA, Calif. - As bad as this season has been, the Oakland Raiders' chances at getting the No. 1 pick in April's draft are slim even if they lose their season finale against the New York Jets.
The Raiders (2-13) go into Sunday's game tied with the Detroit Lions for the worst record in the NFL. With no other team in the league with fewer than four wins, Oakland and Detroit are assured of having the top two picks in the draft.
Both teams face playoff contenders on the road this week with the Lions traveling to Dallas, giving Detroit the inside track at the top pick based on the strength of schedule tiebreaker.
"Look, I just want to win a game," coach Art Shell said. "I'm not worried about later on. I want to win. I want to win the game on Sunday. Period. That's it. That's where I am."
The only time the Raiders had the No. 1 overall pick came in the 1962 AFL draft, when they selected quarterback Roman Gabriel, who chose to play with the NFL's Los Angeles Rams. Oakland has had the No. 2 pick twice, trading up to get defensive lineman Darrell Russell in 1997, and taking offensive tackle Robert Gallery in 2004.
The race for this top pick lacks much of the intrigue of last season when many fans of the Houston Texans even cheered for their team to lose to boost the chances of getting the No. 1 selection.
Games between bottom dwellers were called the Bush Bowl in honor of Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush, who many thought would go first. The Texans ended up drafting Mario Williams, who has a bright future but is not as big a star as some of the players who went later in the first round.
"Look at Vince Young, Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush. None of those guys were the No. 1 pick," linebacker Kirk Morrison said. "But at the same time, look at the impact those guys are having on their team."
The easiest way for Oakland to get the top pick would be by losing to the New York Jets while Detroit beats the Dallas Cowboys.
If both Detroit and Oakland have the same result this week, it goes to the tiebreaker. The teams on Detroit's schedule have 127 victories so far, while the Raiders' opponents have 131.
If both Detroit and Oakland lose, the gap would narrow by one win based on Dallas beating the Lions. Since the Jets would have played both teams, that game would have no impact on the tiebreaker.
There are eight other games that will play into the strength of schedule tiebreaker. The Lions would be assured of winning it if two of Oakland's AFC West rivals win this week. Kansas City hosts Jacksonville, Denver hosts San Francisco, and San Diego hosts Arizona.
If one AFC West team wins, the Raiders would get the edge in the tiebreaker with wins by Miami, New England, Atlanta, Buffalo and Minnesota. If all three AFC West teams lose, Oakland's chances would increase a little more.
Either way, the Raiders are guaranteed a high draft pick, which could bring in a player to boost the league's worst offense.
The players expected to go at the top of this draft aren't as heralded as Bush, Young and Leinart were last season. Notre Dame's Brady Quinn is the top senior quarterback and Wisconsin offensive tackle Joe Thomas is also expected to be a very high pick.
The Raiders have taken a quarterback in the first round only twice since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970. They used the No. 24 pick on Todd Marinovich in 1991 and the fifteenth pick on Marc Wilson in 1980.
They could be hesitant to take another tackle out of the Big Ten with the No. 2 pick after failing with the selection of Gallery in 2004.
Two juniors that could come out early and be of interest to the Raiders are Georgia Tech receiver Calvin Johnson and LSU quarterback JaMarcus Russell. Oakland also could choose to trade down in the draft to add more picks or players to fill the multiple holes on the offense.
"I'm not a historian of the game, but I don't recall a rookie taking his team to a Super Bowl," defensive tackle Warren Sapp said. "Am I wrong? One guy doesn't make that big of a difference, but he can be a difference-maker for you."
Rookies are making a bigger impact today compared with when Sapp was picked by Tampa Bay in 1995 as teams no longer can wait for young players to develop and often push them into the starting lineup right away.
Oakland has started first-round pick Michael Huff at safety and second-round pick Thomas Howard at linebacker all season. Rookie offensive linemen Kevin Boothe and Paul McQuistan have also gotten extensive playing time this year.
"If you've got a good cast, a guy can come in and have an impact," Shell said. "I believe that."

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