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Crabtree is this year’s McFadden

By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Friday, March 13th, 2009 at 11:26 am in Oakland Raiders.

Last year the most heated debate among readers of this forum was about Darren McFadden.

To draft, or not to draft?

Most people seemed to believe Al Davis simply couldn’t pass up the chance at such an explosive play-maker, and that line of thinking turned out to be correct.

Those who wanted the Raiders to look elsewhere cited the presence of Justin Fargas, Michael Bush and even Dominic Rhodes, who broke 100 yards rushing in the Raiders last two games of the season, and saw McFadden as a skinny-legged gamble with a questionable background.

Some joker even thought the Raiders would opt for Ohio State edge rusher Vernon Gholston because he was precisely the sort of workout warrior who looked great getting off the bus and would make quarterbacks go down, and go down hard.

(For what it’s worth, I was later told Davis liked Gholston a lot _ just not enough to pass up McFadden. Given McFadden’s promise, even with his injuries, and Gholston’s first year, it looks like a good decision so far).

Lane Kiffin later told everyone it was McFadden all along, although it’s hard to know what to make of that given Davis’ on-the-record statements regarding the truthfulness of his former coach.

Judging from some of the pre-draft debate already heating up, this year’s biggest debate will be whether or not to draft Texas Tech wide receiver Michael Crabtree.

Crabtree supporters believe he would be the ideal playmate for JaMarcus Russell and an instant contributor to a receiving corps that includes Johnnie Lee Higgins, Chaz Schilens and a hoped-for rejuvenation of javon Walker.

Detractors note he’s not as tall as advertised, is recovering from a stress fracture in his foot and is not as fast as Missouri’s Jeremy Maclin.

I checked out 20 mock drafts and 16 of the had the Raiders taking a receiver at No. 7. Eleven of them bought into the argument that Davis will go with speed and take Maclin, even if Crabtree is available. Five thought the call would be Crabtree.

Where were also two votes for Boston College nose tackle B.J. Raji and one each for Mississippi tackle Michael Oher and USC lineacker Rey Maualuga.

How some mock drafts see the Raiders using the No. 7 pick:

Todd McShay, ESPN: WR Jeremy Maclin, Missouri
Mel Kiper Jr., ESPN: WR Jeremy Maclin, Missouri
Jamie Dukes, NFL Network: WR Jeremy Maclin, Missouri
Charles Davis, NFL Network: WR Michael Crabtree, Texas Tech
Clark Judge, CBSsports.com: WR Jeremy Maclin, Missouri
Pete Prisco, CBSsports.com: WR Jeremy Maclin, Missouri
Rob Rang, NFLdraftscout.com: OT Michael Oher, Mississippi
Chad Reuter, NFLdraftscout.com: WR Michael Crabtree, Texas Tech
NFLdraftdog.com: WR Jeremy Maclin, Missouri
Pat Kirwan, NFL Network: WR Jeremy Maclin, Missouri
Russ Lande, The Sporting News: WR Michael Crabtree, Texas Tech
Don Banks, CNN-SI: DT B.J. Raji, Boston College
Jim Trotter, CNN-SI: WR Jeremy Maclin, Missouri
Wes Bunting, National Football Post: WR Michael Crabtree, Texas Tech
Sam Farmer, Los Angeles Times: WR Jeremy Maclin, Missouri
KFFL: WR Jeremy Maclin, Missouri
NFLdrafttscource.com: WR Jeremy Maclin, Missouri
Walterfootball.com: DT B.J. Raji, Boston College
Steve Silverman, NBCsports.com: LB Ray Maualuga, USC
Chris Steuber, Scout.com: WR Michael Crabtree, Texas Tech

Note: Missed McFadden’s brief talk with local reporters Thursday night when he pronounced himself fit and ready to go because of a prior obligation (I’m helping coach my son’s Little League team and it was the season opener). Will be out of touch much of the weekend but will try and post something if news breaks and time permits.

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