Al Davis: Did Oakland Raiders Owner Get Bad Rap for Team’s Failings?

It's no secret that the Oakland Raiders have struggled in recent years, and Al Davis typically gets the blame for that. Does Davis deserve the bad rap he receives, or is he too harshly judged? It is well known that Davis once ran the NFL with his tremendous knowledge of the game, but was he still at the top of his game in recent years?

Since 1998, the Raiders have had seven different head coaches. The team has had a top 10 draft pick six times since 2004. This is not exactly a sign of success, and to further the point, the team has gone 37-91 (not including the 2011 season) since 2003.

Obviously, Oakland has been doing a lot of things wrong in this time frame. But does Davis deserve all of the blame?

To start, here is a list of the Raiders' first draft choice in each year since 2001:

2001: Derrick Gibson, S, Florida State

2002: Phillip Buchanon, CB, Miami (FL)

2003: Nnamdi Asomugha, CB, California

2004: Robert Gallery, OT, Iowa

2005: Fabian Washington, CB, Nebraska

2006: Michael Huff, S, Texas

2007: JaMarcus Russell, QB, LSU

2008: Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas

2009: Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland

2010: Rolando McClain, LB, Alabama

2011: Stefen Wisniewski, C, Penn State

While the above list does include some excellent players, it also includes far too many busts. Nnamdi Asomugha and Darren McFadden are both superstars, but the rest of the players are average at best. Many of the names in that list were huge busts, and JaMarcus Russell may be the biggest bust of all time.

It is just common sense that a team that misses on so many high draft picks will not be good.

However, this list does not tell the whole story. Davis and the Raiders have done a good job of finding good talent in the later rounds of the draft, and this was a large part of Oakland's 8-8 record in 2010.<...

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