Las Vegas Raiders fans would probably prefer not to remember their team’s pitiful draft history. Nevertheless, former NFL executive Gil Brandt recently did precisely that on Twitter.
Brandt was the vice president of player personnel for the Dallas Cowboys from 1960 through 1988. Alongside Tom Landry, his scouting prowess helped the Cowboys earn two Super Bowls and assemble some of their legendary teams. If anyone’s qualified to speak on identifying talent, it’s certainly Brandt, even if Raider Nation hates being reminded of the misses that their team has had these last 20 years or so.
While there have been many, Brandt pointed out three misses that really sting, considering that said players turned out to be future Hall of Famers.
The Raiders passed up on who?..
The trio that Brandy was referring to was Larry Fitzgerald, Aaron Rodgers, and Calvin Johnson. The former exec pointed out that the Raiders passed up these players in a four-year stretch, from 2004 to 2007. Looking back, this was probably Al Davis’ worst drafting effort, as the players the Silver and Black took turned out to be terrible busts. We are of course referring to Robert Gallery, Fabian Washington, and JaMarcus Russell.
3 times in a 4-year span (2004-07) the Raiders’ first-round pick was immediately followed by the drafting of either a first-ballot HOFer or one who will be:
2004: Larry Fitzgerald (Robert Gallery)
2005: Aaron Rodgers (Fabian Washington)
2006: Calvin Johnson (JaMarcus Russell)
— Gil Brandt (@Gil_Brandt) February 15, 2021
Two of those selections certainly merit discussion, Gallery and Russell. In retrospect, their selection made sense, as both players filled two of the team’s needs at the time. On the other hand, revisionist history is easy to do when you’ve seen how players turned out but a player selection isn’t perfect.
If anything, the draft is truly a crapshoot, take Rodgers for example, and remember how many teams passed on him, not just the Raiders. Fans will have to wait another five years or more to see how this current administration’s drafting turns out. Suffice to say, their draft picks could end up looking like the ones from that rough four-year stretch.
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*Top Photo: Robert B. Stanton/NFL Photo Library