It must certainly be heartbreaking for the Las Vegas Raiders to look at their hits and misses in past NFL Drafts. Looking back, the Raiders had the chance to take a little known linebacker. That’s what they do in this re-do.
The linebacker position has been a weakness for the Raiders since time immemorial. Draft busts and veterans who were past their primes have populated the position for years. There have definitely been some exceptions such as Khalil Mack, or Bill Romanowski. As a matter of fact, the latter was the leader the last Super Bowl Raiders linebacker corps. Unfortunately, for the most part, it’s been mostly “misses.”
Gary Davenport of Bleacher Report recently did a re-do of the entire 2001 NFL draft. For the Raiders pick, Davenport had the team go defense but addressing linebacker instead of safety. Originally, Raiders owner Al Davis went with speedy safety Derrick Gibson from Florida State. Davenport’s scenario had Dan Morgan fall to the Raiders, who held the 28th selection, from the 11th pick where he was originally picked by the Carolina Panthers.
Though seemingly a lifetime ago, this was the draft after the dreaded “Tuck Rule” game. With a championship team in place, they opted for speed as was the norm under Davis. Gibson, is, for the most part, remembered as a bust. The only memorable aspect from his Raiders’ tenure was his 40-yard dash time, which was 4.45 seconds. Morgan, on the other hand, was a Pro Bowl linebacker. When comparing the two selections, Davenport elaborated on what the Raiders missed out on.
“That’s the trade-off with Dan Morgan. After a standout career at Miami, he was the 11th overall pick in this draft by the Panthers. On a per-game basis, Morgan was a difference-maker from day one—his 18 total tackles against the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXVIII remains a record.”
Despite injuries taking a toll on Morgan, he only played seven seasons, the Raiders clearly got the short end. We don’t know what might’ve been had he been a Raider. Another example of how poor drafting would hinder the Silver and Black post-Super Bowl loss in 2002.
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*Top Photo: Bleacher Report