Mitchell awaits validation of draft status


Darrius Heyward-Bey remains the most publicized “reach” in the NFL draft, gaining at least some small measure of vindication by scoring his first touchdown in a 24-7 loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving.

As much heat as the Raiders took for taking Heyward-Bey at No. 7 overall, the fact is most draft analysts had the Maryland receiver going late in the first round.

Safety Mike Mitchell, on the other hand, was one of the draft’s great mysteries. When the Raiders made the pick in the second round, No. 47 overall, the NFL Network’s Mike Mayock, knowledgable enough to have been the first to connect the dots with Heyward-Bey and the Raiders, admitted he was stumped.

Mayock wasn’t the only one. Mel Kiper Jr. said he had Mitchell rated somewhere between No. 40 and No. 70 _ and that wasn’t rating players overall. It was rating only the safeties. He considered Mitchell no better than a seventh-round pick or undrafted free agent.

It was later speculated the Chicago Bears were considering taking Mitchell at No. 49 if the Raiders hadn’t struck at No. 47, and it’s a fact that Mitchell was piling up frequent flyer miles by visiting NFL teams in the weeks leading up to the draft.

Exactly where Mitchell would have gone had the Raiders not called, no one knows for sure. Also unknown is exactly what kind of players the Raiders have, as Mitchell battled hamstring problems dating back to pre-drat workouts and all the way through training camp.

“For the things I’ve been asked to do I’ve had a good year, but for my standards it hasn’t been anything close to what I wanted it to be,” Mitchell said Monday during the Raiders’ open locker room session.

Mitchell’s goals coming into the season?

“Being a starter, making an impact, but you know, injuries happen, and it’s something I hard to work through and push through,” Mitchell said.

So Mitchell is still waiting for a chance to silence draft day skeptics, realizing he may have to wait until next year.

“That’s the thing that irks me the most about how this year has gone for me,” Mitchell said. “There were some things that were said that I still don’t like and I’m still looking forward to proving myself right. Not necessarily proving them wrong, but just proving myself right, and I’m not going to stop until I do that.”

Fans who saw Mitchell and were less than overwhelmed early in the season had some company in Mitchell himself.

“If you could look at my college tape, and then look at how I was running around earlier in the year and at training camp and in practice, that’s not even the same football player,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell said the hamstring injury limited his ability to run and work out, and only recently has he begun to feel his old burst and strength. He’s told friends and family he feels like he’s redshirting in his rookie year, with the bonus of getting a little playing time along with learning the ropes from veterans such as Nnamdi Asomugha and Michael Huff and second-year safety Tyvon Branch.

“I’m seeing the game through their eyes and not being necessarily be forced out there and do everything, even though I’d love to be out there and doing everything,” Mitchell said. “It is a chance to let me grow and learn things at a slower pace and it’s been a lot easier.”

Mitchell said his defensive snaps have increased in some packages and that he hopes to stay healthy, finish the season strong and then take “about two days” before coming back to Oakland and begin training for his second season.

It’s not lost on Mitchell that Branch, one of his closest friends on the team, missed a lot of time due to injuires as a rookie and in his second season has developed into possibly the Raiders’ third best defensive player behind Asomugha and Richard Seymour.

In the long run, it remains to be seen whether Branch or Mitchell can be starters at the same time. The Raiders have historically played with one single high safety _ the position currently manned by Huff _ and both players are more suited to being in the box.

“I don’t want to look too far ahead because I don’t know what their plans are upstairs,” Mitchell said. “I’m just here to play safety, and that’s what I’m going to do, I’m going to do it to the best of our ability. In college I was very versatile and I could play anywhere. I could play nickel, free safety, strong safety, so I can do a lot of different things.”

More to come . . .


Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer

  • 4evaRaider

    bust em 1 MM

  • AlDavis Stopwatch Says:
    November 30th, 2009 at 1:39 pm
    I posted here in the spring and all Florida Pete was talking about was this Jasper Brinkley MLB from South Carolina. He’s listed 6′2” 265. His forty time was on the slow side like 4.65 or something.

    The Ray Lewis I saw last night is 6′1” 270 and I guarantee you his forty is around 4.7

    Now who in this organization wouldn’t take Ray Lewis right now to be our MLB?

    We seriously need to start taking football players instead of Combine Kings.

  • EndZoner

    MM has helped make mike Huff play better this season…

  • Well, at least he is motivated…too bad Russell will spend his offseason getting more and more fat and then report to OTAs with an excuse to miss some of the OTAs already in mind.

  • aig

    No one predicted Huff was going to have a break out year. I’m glad we drafted MM. We can always use more toughness. Huff is covering well this year but we need someone that can flatten people. It’s not a coincidence that Huff dedicated himself this past offseason due to the drafting of MM. The results from Huff’s offseason work has been good. Now can we please get a couple of legit LB’s via freeagency or draft?

  • Florida Pete

    Florida Pete Says:
    November 30th, 2009 at 1:31 pm
    Raiders Grief Counselor Albert Bigelow Paine Says:
    November 30th, 2009 at 11:48 am
    The Raiders looked pretty good Thanksgiving! They got some first downs, no turnovers, and Heyward-Bey caught his first TD! Not bad! Hopefully the team can carry over that success against the Steelers and only lose by 10-14 points.


    joking, yes???

    Hey-Bey did not catch that pass…

    it went through his hands, bounced off his chest and he snagged it on the rebound…

    he was too surprised to drop it…

  • Huff has had a breakout year?

  • RaiderSam

    One thing’s for sure….he talks a lot. I wished he had hit Miles Austin and followed through….that way we’d see one of the hits he’s famous for…get a roughing call, anything?!

  • Sources who were part of the team say that in the late 1980s and early ’90s Davis ordered Raiders coaches to limit Allen’s playing time, often in favor of far less effective runners. Steve Smith and others say that Davis sometimes ordered that quarterbacks not throw the ball to Allen. “The other players had heard so much about this ‘family’ thing, but then we saw what happened to Marcus,” says Ronnie Lott, who played safety for the Raiders in 1991 and ’92. “All of a sudden, the guy who was Mr. Raider wasn’t part of the family. We wondered, How can you not play your best player?”

    -Sports Illustrated 1996

  • aig

    I’m shocked you didnt know about htis article when it came out. Mike Silver created a media stir back then as his way to introduce himself to the sportsworld. We all know Al has his stupid ways. That’s 1996 and nothing has changed. Until he dies, nothing will change.

  • Plunketthead

    djohnnyg Says:
    November 29th, 2009 at 10:17 pm

    The “lowly” Kiffins just beat your Wildcats for the 25th STRAIGHT YEAR!!!


    You, and your Wildcats are a pathetic joke. Of all the things in the world to talk smack about, you brag about Ky. beating “LOWLY” Tenn.?

    Ha. How do you like 25 yrs. of losing to ‘em buddy? If Tenn. is LOWLY what does that make Ky. football? They even finished BELOW Tenn. is the standings to boot. You are such a joke. So are your Ky. Wildcats. How about another 25 dude? Ha……

    Dam, you got me there. All except the I am a joke part.
    Are you proclaiming me to be a joke because I root for the Wildcats or did I say something else to get you all worked up.

  • Chris in NY

    I’d love to see MM out there hitting people and get a feel for what he can do. But Branch and Huff have been very, very good this season. Impossible to bench either of those guys right now. We’ve had the best play at the safety position this season that I can remember the Raiders having in a very long time.

    Probably wouldn’t work but I wonder if MM could play MLB with Morrison kicking outside. MM’s probably a little too small for MLB but he’s tough, hits hard and is used to playing the middle of the field. Could light up some WRs/TEs and maybe snag a few picks from that spot.

  • aig

    yes, Huff had a breakout year. It’s hard to recognize there were some positives on the team when your everyday routine is Raider suck this raider suck that…being a true fan that you are.

  • Plunketthead


    Kiffin still swallows and if his daddy wasnt coaching the D the Wildcats would have Kicked Kiffs butt.

  • Says Allen, who signed with the Kansas City Chiefs as a free agent in 1993, “I always felt we had the best personnel in football, but the best personnel wasn’t always on the field. We had to win a certain way or no way. Sometimes we sacrificed winning for a philosophy—or one man’s philosophy.”

    -Marcus Allen 1996

  • aig

    Kitten is the biggest white hype I have ever seen…talk trash..lose the game…then talk some more trash…I thoguht they beat the Gators based on his post game bravado but no worries…those attempted robberies were pure karma…he wont have Eric Berry to bail him out next year.

  • Davis gave up on linebacker Matt Millen, who won Super Bowl rings with the San Francisco 49ers and the Washington Redskins after his 1989 release, and on receiver James Lofton, who was also waived in 1989 and went on to start in three Super Bowls for the Buffalo Bills. And the blame for the Raiders’ well documented quarterback problems can be placed largely on Davis, who traded for Jay Schroeder in ’88 and stuck with him for five seasons, even after Schroeder was outplayed by Steve Beuerlein in ’89. “Al wanted Jay to be the starter because Jay was the guy he brought in, and he felt Jay was more a Raider-style quarterback,” says Beuerlein, whom Davis traded to Dallas in 1991 and who now plays for Carolina.

    -Sports Illustrated 1996

  • aig


    I think MM is too small for the MLB. however, I would love to see a nickel set with MM. Cable said he was thinking about it. We need people that can flatten people. We can’t have our corner Johnson as the only guy that flattens people. I hope Jerry asks Cable about this next time.

  • Says Allen, who signed with the Kansas City Chiefs as a free agent in 1993, “I always felt we had the best personnel in football, but the best personnel wasn’t always on the field. We had to win a certain way or no way. Sometimes we sacrificed winning for a philosophy—or one man’s philosophy.”

    -Marcus Allen 1996
    Do you fellers see a pattern here?

  • Plunketthead

    Raider O

    Prayer sent

  • AbusedByAl


    KoolKell, I did not know this particular article. But I’m not too surprised. If the Raiders were about winning, things would have been a lot different since 2003 already. One cannot but agree that nothing has changed since 1996.

    I found the Steelers – Ravens game a great game indeed. Both played with heart and soul. I regret that there was a winner at the end. Both deserved it. I doubt we beat the Steelers, even should Ben not play. That Dixon was not bad. I hope JMR saw him and realized that inexperience is not an excuse to play poorly for pretty much half a season.

  • Whassamatter Becker the Pecker?

    Am I banned for posting excerpts from the SI article?

  • Whassamatter Becker the Pecker?

    Are they complaining about my posts on Harbor Bay?

  • Davis favors players whose most striking attribute is raw speed and obscure players whom he has discovered. Three examples are tight end Andrew Glover, a Raiders starter the past two seasons who caught only 10 passes as a senior at Grambling; defensive back Dan Land, a converted running back with excellent speed: and defensive back James Trapp, who won the NFL’s Fastest Man competition in 1995.
    “Teams would watch our waiver wire,” five-time Pro Bowl wideout Tim Brown said last summer, “because the word around the league was that the Raiders were going to release football players and keep the guys Al likes.”

  • Insanity, doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result.

    Look at the 06-09′ comparisons.


  • Florida Pete

    reposting for the P.M. crew…

    Florida Pete Says:
    November 28th, 2009 at 7:59 am

    ah, let’s see…

    DHB got a catch and it was a touchdown…

    correction… it was not a catch… his hands missed it and he trapped it against his chest… rather be lucky than good…

    truth is: Hey-Bey can’t catch… i’m not sure he ever will…

    dump him and his salary and move on…

    Russell is not and never will be the answer for the Raiders… you can’t teach self respect… you can’t teach work ethic… you can’t teach JR…

    dump him and his salary and move on…

    McTiptoe has reached his limit… he is simply not a pro-caliber running back…

    dump him and his salary and move on…

    Morrison is not and never will be a good middle linebacker… he can’t shed blocks… can’t stay in his lane… is not intinidating in any sense of the word…

    he is and has been playing out of position… don’t bother resigning him…

    Kelly and Warren are minimum acceptable DTs… there you have it… minimum acceptable, yet highly paid…

    dump them and move on…

    the entire right side of the line (plus center) is minimum acceptable… need to upgrade… this past draft would have been an excellent opportunity…

    at quarterback there is no-one on the roster now who is capable of leading this team next year…

    Cable isn’t the guy… but unless we bring in a Gruden, a Cowher or a Fisher (if available)… we may as well stay with Cable…

    the ZBS sucks… has always sucked… and will always suck…

    we have a really schitty GM… that probably should be fixed first…

    this past years draft was the absolute worst draft in Raider history… (yes, you kind gentlemen are welcome to nominate other years)…

    bottom line…

    your defense will never be good without a top-notch run-stopping MLB… intercepting passes is not the primary function of a MLB…

    your offense will never be good without a mature, intelligent QB… chucking the ball 60 yards while consuming a cheeseburger should not be the main qualification one looks for in a quarterback…

    i could go on, but why bother…

    the season was over when Russell reported to camp with a fat ass… think about this: we have a QB (Jacarcass) who can’t take snaps from under center because he is too fat and clumbsy to turn around and move away from the line…

    i am so disgusted and discouraged with this team…

  • exlaraiderseasonticketholder

    new post!

  • snnyjcbs

    Mitchell will go down as a very good pick for the Raiders. I remember all these same dumb follow the leader Fans knocking Branch as a pick and he has only become one of the few players the Raiders are contacted for regarding a trade. Same clowns wanted to hang Nnamdi now they want to try and claim him as walking on water. What a bunch of clowns.

  • Dark Forces

    If a player takes 3 years to develop after signing a 5 year rookie deal then they are effectively a bust for the organization that drafted them. Namdi is a solid player but the Raiders had to pay him firtst round money to learn on the job and then had to overpay him a drastic amount to hang on to him since he only started getting good right at the end of his contract. “Red Shirting” a player in and paying them big money to sit ont he bench or flail pathetically while learning ont he job is just stupid in today’s NFL.

  • Terrell Hudgins / #19 / Wide Receiver
    1633 123 136.1 16
    Team Roster:

    * Name: Terrell Hudgins
    * Team: Elon Phoenix
    * Position: Wide Receiver
    * Age: 22

    * Height: 6′ 2″
    * Weight: 234 lbs
    * Year: Senior
    * Hometown: Rocky Mount, NC

  • raiderchristian53