Click photo to enlarge
Former Maryland wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey was a surprise pick by the Raiders in the first round of the NFL draft. (AP Photo/Nick Wass, File)

ALAMEDA — Raiders managing general partner Al Davis has been down this road before. When you have been around for as long as Davis, you are bound to experience the gamut of praise and criticism.

Draft analysts, columnists and fans teed off on Davis and the Raiders for the selection of Maryland wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey and Ohio safety Michael Mitchell in the first and second rounds, respectively, of the NFL draft Saturday.

To that, former Raiders coach Jon Gruden said Sunday, "Al Davis doesn't care about what any of us think."

So it was that Davis and coach Tom Cable on Sunday went about the business of restocking the roster with players they deem capable of making a difference and being a part of the team's transformation from a non-playoff team the past six years into a Super Bowl contender.

The Raiders added Wisconsin defensive end Matt Shaughnessy, Florida receiver Louis Murphy, Oregon State defensive end/linebacker Slade Norris, Missouri defensive end Stryker Sulak and Iowa tight end Brandon Myers in the final five rounds of the seven-round draft.

Cable said he isn't concerned about what others think about their draft picks.

"The thing that worked out for us is, we were all on the same page, that we went at it, we were going to make sure we filled needs for our football team," Cable said. "And regardless of what anyone says, it's OK. I don't know who you're watching, but the guys were good, (from) the feedback I got."


Advertisement

Once again, Davis bucked conventional wisdom with most of his picks, with the possible exception of Murphy, who went in the fourth round but was projected as a third-rounder.

If Davis gave a silver-and-black hoot about what people think, he certainly wouldn't have drafted punter Ray Guy in the first round in 1973, kicker Sebastian Janikowski in the first round in 2000, running back Bo Jackson in the seventh round in 1987 and cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha in the first round of in 2003.

In time, history proved Davis prescient in his evaluation of players deemed reaches at the spots they were selected.

Guy is regarded by many as the best punter in NFL history. Janikowski is Oakland's all-time leading scorer. Jackson struck fear into every defensive player he faced during a four-year career ended by a hip injury. Asomugha now is considered the game's best cornerback.

"You always learn by experience, but I don't believe in consistency," Davis said Feb. 4. "I don't believe that "... because you failed one year, that you can't succeed in the next year. "... But, I'd rather be right than be consistent, so we'll see what happens."

You can bet that Davis feels the same way toward those who castigate him for his eyebrow-raising picks over the weekend.

Davis no doubt is hopeful his draft picks this year will turn out as well as ones he made in recent seasons.

Eight players projected as starters or significant contributors on this season's team were selected in rounds 3-7 the past two years.

Of the five players selected beyond the second round in this year's draft class, Murphy is the one who figures to make the most noise early on.

He also is someone the Raiders expected to be long gone before they picked in the fourth round.

"Just could not pass him up," Cable said.

Murphy and Heyward-Bey join a receiving corps that features Javon Walker, Chaz Schilens and Arman Shields. Their arrival also has turned a problem area into a strength, Cable said.

"I look at it now," Cable said, "and I say, 'You know what? We can attack you all over the field now.' We've got guys who can catch and make a play somewhere, they can beat press coverage, and they can get up top and run away. "... We raised the bar at that position, dramatically."

Time will tell if Davis and Cable made wise decisions. In the interim, they would just as soon you kept your predictions to yourself.

Contact Steve Corkran at scorkran@bayareanewsgroup.com.