By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Wednesday, April 13th, 2011 at 3:22 pm in Oakland Raiders.
Second in a series
The Raiders are currently without a pick in the first round, trading it to New England for Richard Seymour, but have selections in the second through seventh rounds. Oakland has one pick in the third round, No. 81 overall. Here’s a ranking of the club’s third-round picks since 1995:
1. LB Kirk Morrison, San Diego State (78-2005): Never had less than 91 tackles in a season, coming in as a reserve in his first game and then starting 79 straight. The Raiders’ defense struggled against the run for most of his tenure, but they got an awful lot of production, leadership and good during his tenure before the selection of Rolando McClain last year.
2. DE Matt Shaughnessy, Wisconsin (71-2009): Is it just me or does Shaughnessy look to be on the verge of being a Pro Bowl player? Has 11 sacks in 32 games, can be stout against the run and plotting his improvement on a graph would illustrate a steady ascent.
3. T Jared Veldheer, Hillsdale (69-2010): The Raiders may get more at let tackle out of Veldheer than they got from first-round attempts with Mo Collins (1998), Matt Stinchcomb (1999) and Robert Gallery (2004). A very encouraging and surprising rookie season for a Division II player. Seeing how Veldheer adjusts without Gallery on his side and with new coaching will be huge. Needs to show improvement against top pass rushers.
4. RB Justin Fargas, USC (96-2003): The “crash test dummy” led the Raiders in rushing from 2006 through 2008, gaining 1,009 yards in 2007. Fargas’ hands were so-so and he didn’t run well in the red zone, but he no one ran harder between the 20s.
5. C Adam Treu, Nebraska (72-1997): A 10-year veteran who served mostly as a backup but started 44 times, which is more than you get out of most third-round picks. Treu was also the Raiders’ long snapper.
6. FB Jon Ritchie, Stanford (63-1998): A classic block and catch fullback who fit perfectly in Jon Gruden’s system, Ritchie had 129 of his 150 career receptions as a Raider, where he played from 1998 through 2002. Had a career best 45 catches for 408 yards in 1999.
7: DE DeLawrence Grant, Oregon State (89-2001): A Raider for five seasons, Grant was a very underrated performer on the 2002 AFC championship season. He started 14 games, had three sacks and executed a skill Al Davis holds dear _ holding the edge and playing the bootleg, funneling play toward the middle.
8: WR Johnnie Lee Higgins, Texas-El Paso (99-2007): After returning 44 punts for 570 yards and three touchdowns in 2008 along with 22 catches for 366 yards and four scores, Higgins appeared to be on the verge of being a key playmaker on offense and special teams. He has regressed in both areas in each of the last two seasons and is not a lock to make the 2011 roster with ascension of Jacoby Ford.
9. T Mario Henderson, Florida State (91-2007): Davis made a draft-day deal to get the pick to take Henderson, who struggled initially, was mocked by former coach Lane Kiffin, but started the last five games in 2008 and all 16 in 2009. However, Henderson, who struggled with his confidence, failed to seize the job and was benched in favor of Veldheer. His offseason has included an arrest for possession of an unregistered hand gun.
10. LB Sam Williams, Fresno State (83-2003): Had 12 of his 24 starts in 2006, but never developed into the force at strong side linebacker Davis had hoped when he traded up to get Williams in 2003. He has stuck around this long because the boss likes him, because he’s an excellent locker room presence and has value on special teams.
11: QB Andrew Walter, Arizona State (69-2005): A classic drop-back passer who took a ferocious beating (46 sacks) in the Art Shell-Tom Walsh offense but wasn’t a fit for Kiffin in terms of skill set or body language. Walter finished 2-7 as a starter and never made the 53-man roster of another team after being released.
12: FS Stuart Schweigert, Purdue (67-2004): It’s true playing single deep free safety for the Raiders is one of the most difficult positions in football, and few made it look more difficult than Schweigert, who too often seemed to be missing the key tackle as the last line of defense during his 42 starts from 2005 through 2007.
13: RB Joe Aska, Central Oklahoma (86-1995): Aska had power and speed that had Davis dreaming of Bo Jackson, but other than an 86-yard game against the Bears and a 136-yard explosion against the Jets in 1996, failed to adjust to the professional game after being a finalist for the Harlon Hill award while gaining 1,659 yards in his senior year in college.
14: T Paul McQuistan, Weber State (69-2006): Drafted to be a power and gap blocker for the Art Shell Raiders, McQuistan was not a match for the zone schemes installed by Kiffin and Tom Cable in 2007. He played in only four games in his last two years with the Raiders, struggling when he did play and failing to stay healthy.
15: Tim Kohn, Iowa State (85-1997): Spent parts of 1997 and 1997 with the Raiders but was never active for a game.
16: DE Quentin Moses, Georgia (65-2007): Not long after defensive coordinator Rob Ryan declared Moses “unblockable” during training camp, the rookie failed to make the final cut over fellow rookie seventh-round pick Jay Richardson, pocketing a $610,000 signing bonus. He was not just a third-round pick but the first pick of the third round _ the highest drafted player that year to fail to make the team that picked him. Moses has played the last four years with Miami with two starts and 3.5 sacks.
NOTABLE THIRD-ROUND PICKS IN RAIDERS HISTORY
– T Art Shell was the No. 80 pick overall in 1968 and became one of the best left tackles in the NFL history and was named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
– RB Mark Van Eeghen, the No. 75 overall pick in 1974, is the Raiders’ second-leading all-time rusher behind Marcus Allen with 5,907 yards. He had 1,273 yards rushing, third best in franchise history, in 1977.
– FS Vann McElroy, the No. 64 overall pick in 1982, played nine years with the Raiders before finishing his career with a year in Seattle. He had 31 interceptions, was considered a sure tackler and made one Pro Bowl.
– LB Gerald Irons, No. 76 overall in 1970, started ever game from 1972 through 1975 before being traded to Cleveland. He was a solid player who was traded to make room for a great one _ Ted Hendricks.
– FB Steve Smith, No. 81 overall in 1987, distinguished himself as one of the NFL’s most fearless and punishing lead blockers for Bo Jackson and Marcus Allen, starting 84 games for the Raiders from 1987 through 1993. He finished his career in Seattle. Smith has been afflicted with Lou Gehrig’s disease since 2002.
RANKING RAIDERS DRAFTS BY ROUND
Links to previous rankings of Raiders’ drafts: