The Case for McFadden
I agree that we should draft the player who fits our most glaring need. However, my opinion is that our most glaring need isn’t a pass rusher or an offensive lineman, but rather a sense of identity. Hence, I’m leaning toward Darren McFadden as our top pick.
Think about it—when is the last time the Raiders had a sense of identity on either side of the ball? What, or rather who, is this team?
It’s time to light things up. It’s time to score some freakin’ touchdowns. It’s time to get the fans excited. It’s time to win some games by plowing through the red zone and putting points on the board.
I disagree with this notion that we’re “stacked” at running back. LaMont Jordan and Dominic Rhodes could barely crack our starting lineup last year. What does that tell you? Michael Bush remains an unproven commodity who was unable to earn activation last year. As for Justin Fargas, don’t get me wrong, I love the guy, but I’m not totally sold on him as a long-term feature back.
Fargas scored four rushing touchdowns last year, the same amount that LaDainian Tomlinson scored against us on October 14. It’s easy to forget that Fargas is not entering his prime, but rather his sixth season. He has rushed for a grand total of six touchdowns during his tenure with the Raiders.
Again, no disrespect to Justin Fargas. I love his attitude, his toughness and what he brings to our offense. He’s a true Raider. I’m just not convinced that he’s a game breaker or a game changer. He’ll move the chains, but will he blow them up? Will he change the game, like an L.T. or an Adrian Peterson?
It’s been too long since we’ve seen fireworks on offense. We’ve shored up our defense, so let’s light up our offense.
Which brings me to the topic of identity. With a promising new quarterback at the helm, fresh talent at wide receiver and an improving offensive line under Tom Cable, I would like to see us field a dynamic, multifaceted rushing attack that will not only torment our opponents, but take some pressure off of the passing game, fire up our fans (and our defense), and ultimately win games. A tandem of Russell and McFadden would go a long way toward achieving an identity on offense.
Here’s how Scott Wright’s web site scouts McFadden in terms of strengths: “An outstanding natural athlete...Has very good size...Excellent timed speed with a burst...Has great vision and instincts...Big play threat who can take it the distance at any time..Elusive with nice feet..Quick and agile...Real strong...Tough and loves contact...Runs hard and does not go down easy...Has decent hands and can be a weapon in the passing game..Plays with a nasty demeanor..Extremely productive… Pure football player with all the physical tools who is as good or perhaps an even better prospect than Adrian Peterson was coming out...A rare talent who should rank amongst the top running backs in the NFL very early in his pro career.”
When was the last time the Raiders took a running back in the third round or higher? That would be Justin Fargas in 2003 in the third round. When was the last time the Raiders took a running back in the second round or higher? That would be Napoleon Kaufman in 1995 in the first round. Since then, we’ve drafted seven DBs in the second round or higher, as well as a kicker and two tight ends in the second round or higher.
It’s time to explore a new priority. It’s time to try something different. It’s time to establish an identity. So if McFadden is still there at number four, he’s my pick.