By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Wednesday, April 7th, 2010 at 9:51 am in Oakland Raiders.
Draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. was one of the first aboard the Bruce Campbell bandwagon more than a month ago.
Now Kiper has Raiders taking Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen.
As for Campbell, Kiper believes the Raiders could eventually land him as well _ with their second round pick, No. 39 overall.
Kiper explained his reasoning during a national conference call Wednesday morning put together by ESPN.
He conceded that his initial push for Campbell to Oakland was because “he’s a workout warrior and the Raiders have tended to reach for players in the past, and I thought as a hunch, maybe they would . . . it was a grins and giggles type thing.”
Kiper lives in the Baltimore area and as such is familiar with Campbell, the University of Maryland tackle who despite his magnificent body, speed and physical skills did not get a single first team vote for All-Atlantic Coast Conference.
“I’m thinking he played in some games like a third, fourth, fifth-round pick, and he still needs a lot of work. He needs more fire and intensity and aggressiveness and doesn’t perform to the level of his physical talent,” Kiper said. “If I’m seeing that, and some other people in the league are, then why would the Raiders take him at No. 8?
“So at the end of the day, I have him in the early second round. I took him out of the first round.”
“Sure, you could take a left tackle,” Kiper said. “You could take a Trent Williams. You could take a Bryan Bulaga but they went to the Iowa program a few years ago with Robert Gallery, would they do that again? I went with Clausen because I think they need him. I’ve been told the money situation with Russell won’t prevent them from taking a quarterback and I think Jimmy Clausen at this point would be a heck of a choice.”
Then maybe, just maybe, Campbell becomes available anyway.
“In the second round, maybe a Rodger Saffold, a left tackle from Indiana. Maybe Campbell falls all the way down to that. You take Campbell in the second round. That’s not out of the realm of possibility.”
Kiper, by the way, ranks Clausen as the best quarterback prospect of the draft, one of the few to have the Notre Dame quarterback ahead of Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford.
“I do it for no other reason than how he played, how he performed,” Kiper said. “He was playing through torn ligaments in his toe, and a lot of people don’t know that. People who don’t like him can’t give me a good reason why they don’t. Maturity issues may have been there when he came out of high school, but they’re not there any more.”
Kiper deserves a certain amount of respect given his length of time in the business and the endless preparation and study. He’s never been an NFL scout himself, but he talks to them all the time. He helped make the draft a cottage industry.
“It’s the most important part of building a team,” Kiper said. “The fans know it, the players know it. Luckily for me, I knew it 32 years ago.”
Not that Mel, like everyone else in the business, hasn’t whiffed on a few.
This is what Kiper said on ESPN about Russell moments after Roger Goodell called his name at the 2007 draft.
“JaMarcus Russell is going to immediately energize Raider Nation, that fan base, that football team, on the practice field and in the locker room,” Kiper gushed. “Three years from now, you could be looking at a guy who’s certainly one of the elite top five quarterbacks in this league.
“Nobody has an arm like JaMarcus Russell and I think his mobility is a little underrated. Obviously, he needs a little time . . . but his skill level is John Elway-like.”