Looking at the Last Ten Years of Raiders First Round Picks

Jairo Alvarado

We all know the Raiders good ole' days. When Al Davis ran the show, John Madden and Tom Flores won three Super Bowl championships, and legendary players like Marcus Allen, Bo Jackson, and Tim Brown stormed the field.

Al Davis did it all for the Raiders owner and general manager, from 1963 until he died in 2011. His death impacted the entire Raiders organization. It was up to son and now the owner of the Raiders Mark Davis to run the show. 

The transition did not go well at first, with a coaching carousel, hirings of general managers, and players who Raider fans hoped would return the Silver and Black to glory.

While the Raiders did manage to reach the 2003 Super Bowl under Coach Bill Callahan, they lost the game 48-21 against Jon Gruden's Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 

Before the 2002 season, the Bucs sent two first-round draft picks, two second-round picks and $8 million to the Raiders for the services of Jon Gruden.

Since reaching that Super Bowl, the Raiders have managed to have three winning seasons--in 2010 under Tom Cable, 2011, under Hue Jackson and 2016 season under Jack Del Rio.

In the past 10 years, the Raiders organization has made acquisitions through free-agency and trades to bring in help to the team.

The safest way to build a team and save cap space is through the draft. Draft capital is essential, but many disparate teams around the league panic and trade away picks for players who they believe can contribute right away.

In the drama of quarterback Jamarcus Rusell, former No.1 overall pick back in 2007, it was easy to blame the organization for bad scouting and poor draft decisions and labeling him one of the worst draft busts in NFL history.

The Raiders have been placed in high positions to draft the best available players over the last decade. No matter the pick, it's up to the organization to surround them with help for the draftee to succeed.

As we look into the last decade of first-round picks, we will see how their careers went during their time with the Raiders.

We will start in 2010, Al Davis' last draft selection class started with drafting Rolando McClain, a linebacker from Alabama. He was brought in to solidify the inside linebacker position. Things didn't go well by his third season and were let go. A few years later, he would appear in a few games shortly after "retiring" from football.

In 2011, the Raider did not have a first-round selection. The Raiders had traded their projected top-ten pick to New England for defensive tackle Richard Seymour back in 2009. Seymour was an excellent addition for the Raiders until he retired in 2012.

Once again in 2012, the Raiders found themselves without a first-round pick. The Raiders pick dealt to Cincinnati for "retired" quarterback Carson Palmer after Jason Campbell went down with a season-ending injury. 

In 2012, Mark Davis hired Reggie McKenzie as the general manager of the Oakland Raiders. Al Davis never hired a GM during his time as an owner and assumed a GM's responsibilities.

In 2013, the Raiders drafted cornerback D.J. Hayden. After four years with the Raiders, they allowed him to hit free agency and he signed with the Detroit Lions.

McKenzie will hit the lottery in 2014, as the Raiders drafted Khalil Mack. The standout linebacker was traded to Chicago for future draft picks, and the former Defensive Player Of The Year has an outstanding career going. 

In 2015, the Raiders would draft Amari Cooper, a wide receiver from Alabama, but he was traded a few years later to the Dallas Cowboys.

In 2016, McKenzie would draft safety Karl Joseph. After a steady career with the Raiders, he was allowed to hit free agency after the 2019 season. The Cleveland Browns signed him during the offseason.

In 2017, the Raiders would bring in help at cornerback, drafting Gareon Conley, only to trade him in 2019 to Houston for a 2020 third-round pick.

A new era approached when the Raiders re-hired Jon Gruden as head coach in 2018.

In 2018, Gruden and McKenzie drafted Kolton Miller, tackle out of UCLA. After he struggled early in his career as a starting left tackle while playing with an injury, Miller started to become the player Gruden believed he would be.

After the 2018 season, GM Reggie McKenzie was fired after spending six seasons with the Raiders. His replacement was former NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock.

In his first draft in 2019, he would draft three first-rounders, defensive end Clelin Ferrell, running back Josh Jacobs, and safety Johnathan Abrams.

It might have taken Ferrell some time to showcase his potential, but Jacobs took no time to show he was the real deal. As for Abrams, he had a season-ending injury during week 1.

The future is in front of us.

The 2020 draft included two first-round picks. The Raiders selected fastest wide receiver at the combine, Henry Ruggs III from Alabama, and cornerback Damon Arnett from Ohio State.

All the players drafted before Gruden's arrival are no longer with the team. Also, no player selected in the first round over the last decade has been re-signed by the Raiders.

Hopefully, things will change under Gruden and Mayock as their selections seem to be the start of a great foundation. The future looks bright for the Raiders, as they start a new season in Las Vegas with a remarkable new stadium on the strip.

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