The most controversial selection the Raiders made in the 2011 NFL draft was that of Demarcus Van Dyke. It seems in every draft there is that one player who leaves everyone with their head in their hands -- Van Dyke is this year's culprit. But there are two sides to the DVD argument.
Let's start with the argument against his selection.
Many of you have probably heard or have even stated yourself that he was a "reach" with the Raiders' mid third round pick -- the team's second pick of the day. The reach could be seen as a considerable one since after last season he was not even projected as being drafted.
Van Dyke came to Miami and started eight games as a true freshman, so his career began in a very promising way. Then he lost his starting job as a sophomore and was relegated to nickel corner.
As a junior he regained his starting job with the injury to former receiver turned corner, Ryan Hill, who went out for the season with an injury. But when Hill was healthy again, Van Dyke was once more moved to nickel after just three starts.
Typically losing one's starting job twice in college doesn't bode well for one's chances of being drafted into the NFL. But all that went out the window when Van Dyke ran a 2011 combine best 4.29 forty yard dash. That time caused his stock to shoot up from UDFA to a round four prospect.
The Raiders didn't even wait until their lower round three selection before swiping up Van Dyke. As Hue Jackson said, "We don't run from speed, we run to speed." And did they ever. The Raiders could have set their own record time in grabbing Van Dyke. And in doing so they passed up the chance to draft some more proven prospects such as Curtis Brown out of Texas, Johnny Patrick out of Louisville, and Curtis Marsh from Utah State.
The speedy, unproven factor had DVD being compared to DHB the moment the pick was announced.
Now let's examine the other side of this argument.
First off, is Darrius Heyward-Bey a good comparison? Not really. Sure, the Raiders were enamored with the speed quotient in both cases. But there is an extremely big difference between taking a player seventh overall and taking a player halfway through the third round. Even DHB would have likely gone no later than the mid second round had the Raiders not chosen him.
The choice of Van Dyke seems more significant because the Raiders didn't have a first round pick. So after waiting through the entire first round and half the second round, Raider fans were chomping at the bit for the Raiders to make their first pick. It made the Van Dyke selection feel more like a round two pick.
The Raiders may have taken Van Dyke earlier than most thought he should go but it was just one round. And in the middle rounds of the draft, if you like a guy enough, sometimes you have to take him early to make sure someone else doesn't.
DVD also doesn't carry the burden of replacing Nnamdi Asomugha all by himself. The Raiders grabbed another corner a round later in Chimdi Chekwa.
Chekwa was projected in the third round so he was a find in round four. Imagine if the Raiders had taken Chekwa in round three and Van Dyke in round four. Would anyone have raised a fuss over that? Probably not, because those are the rounds in which both were projected to go.
But there is still that red flag about Van Dyke losing his starting job twice at Miami, right?
To get to the bottom of that situation, one must look at his Miami teammates. Brandon Harris was solid, there is no question about that. He was a longtime starter for the Hurricanes and went in round two (#60) because of it. But what of Ryan Hill, the guy who replaced Van Dyke his senior season? He wasn't drafted at all.
How can it be that the guy who started over Van Dyke does not get drafted? I will let Demarcus explain it to you.
"Well, at Miami, my last year I was coached by Coach [Randy] Shannon. It wasn't really like I was benched or anything like that. All three of us was real good cornerbacks. So it wasn't really like these two guys are starting. If you look at the film, 95 percent of the time all three of us were on the field, because [in the] ACC, you're playing against great defenses. So that's what really happened my last year."
One way you could look at this shuffling of corners is that Ryan Hill was limited in his coverage abilities, forcing him to line up and cover the boundaries. And in football, it is the sideline corners who start. In Miami's defensive system, three corners are utilized extensively, and if Van Dyke had the skills necessary to be moved around, he was relegated to those duties. He was a team player.
The scouting reports contradicted the versatility angle by claiming Van Dyke was stiff in the hips. And in the demanding man defense the Raiders play, he must possess a lot more than just straight line speed.
The Raiders' new defensive backs coach Rod Woodson went down to hold a private workout with Van Dyke and it appears there were no serious red flags about him -- at least none that would sway Al Davis from grabbing his speedy corner. Woodson disputed the reports in stating that Van Dyke had fluid hips.
If Woodson truly believes Van Dyke has the skillset necessary to shadow receivers in the Raiders' man defense -- and we know he has the recovery speed -- this could end up being a decent pick.
The draft is an inexact science and is often closer to a crap shoot, especially in the mid/late rounds. Too many good players go undrafted and too many washouts sit in the green room at Radio City Music Hall ready to hug the commissioner and cash a huge paycheck.
Demarcus Van Dyke may be a player on whom the Raiders are taking a chance, but then again a third round pick is not exactly a huge risk to take.
The Raiders alone have had several boom or bust players in round three. Quentin Moses was considered a steal in the third round and he didn't last through camp. Matt Shaughnessy was not a celebrated pick in the third round and he has turned into a standout defensive end for the team. Just last season, rookie third round pick Jared Veldheer started at left tackle for the Raiders. Those were the last three third round picks for the Raiders, so you just never know.
What it comes down to is this: 1) Van Dyke won't be starting next season regardless. 2) He will be making third round pick money, which isn't much by NFL standards. 3) The Raiders appear to have had a great draft otherwise.
If he proves his doubters right, the Raiders will survive. But if he outshines his draft status, it would prove far more valuable.
Follow Levi on Twitter @LeviDamien or befriend him on Facebook.
It does not matter what Rod Woodson thinks about DVD. The decision on his selection lies with Al Davis, and Al Davis alone, regardless of Woodson's input. Speed is what influences Al Davis, and you can try to put any kind of spin on it you want, but the bottom line is that Davis is going to take the fastest corner, and DVD was the fastest. I guarantee you this, if Rod Woodson had to pick between DVD and Jimmy Smith, I would gladly bet you any amount of money that Woodson would agree with the "experts", like Mike Mayock, and select Smith. SkipMaster, you are quick to bash on the draft experts, but you fail to realize that these guys study the draft for a living, and you forget the many great calls they do actually make...FYI, had Al Davis listened to them in regards to DHB, particularly Mike Mayock, don't you think the Raiders would have been better off passing on him and selecting a guy like Jeremy Maclin??? I do.....Just look at Maclin's numbers versus DHB's. The "so-called" experts don't look so bad on that one, do they....
If it didn’t matter what Woodson thought about DVD, then why send him to Miami? And speaking of Jimmy Smith, did you really think he was going to last until round 3? Furthermore, this conversation is about DVD a cornerback, and not DHB a receiver! As far as you agreeing with Draft experts, do your research on who they said were going to be great and those who would fail. Nnamdi was a reach they said when he was drafted, how did that pan out? Routt was a speed pick by Al Davis who would be a career backup at best, now he’s their no.#1 corner. I never bashed the experts Spartacus, I urged us as fans to do our own research, and not depend on someone else to tell us who the Raiders should and should not draft. Draft experts are paid to evaluate talent going into the draft; and if they were so accurate, wouldn’t some team or teams hire them as General Managers or some other role because they value their opinions? A few years ago Raider great Tim Brown said: “When you’re drafted by the Raiders, it doesn’t matter where you played in college because they will put you where they feel you can help them the most.” Case in point: Nnamdi was a safety from Cal who was switched to cornerback by the Raiders, because Al Davis saw what we as fans and the Draft experts didn’t see. So the next time you feel as if you can compete with me in Football knowledge, feel free to make a fool of yourself. I, unlike you, have been following the Raiders since 1963, when Al Davis was the Raiders coach and won AFL Coach of the Year. Spartacus, I rest my case and you’re dismissed.
@SkipMaster @Spartacus Actually, my friend, Mike Mayock was offered a job by Al Davis a few years back to be director of player personnel, a job which Mayock turned down. Obviously, Al Davis thought high enough of this "draft expert" to offer him an important high level job... But that's right, as a self proclaimed expert in Raider football, you knew that, correct???
Your credentials are pretty impressive SkipMaster, and I have to say that I am really impressed that you have followed the Raiders since 1963. WOW!!! As if I haven't heard that line a thousand times. I can HONESTLY say that I have been a season ticket holder going on my 7th year now, and have a pretty good idea on the needs of the Raiders and have some decent knowledge on the subject. I won't waste anymore of your time, though, as I don't want to further make a fool of myself discussing Raider football with a man of such great football knowledge as yourself....
"Mike Mayock was offered a job by the Raiders to be their Head Scouting Director but he turned it down." source:
Mike Mayock is a wanted man
Posted by NBC Sports on April 15, 2010, 10:54 AM EDT
"Mayock told Joe Rose on WQAM Thursday (Via Omar Kelly) that he’s had “three or four offers to join NFL front offices” but that “it wasn’t the right time.”
One of those offers may have come from the Raiders. Mayock was tied to Oakland as a possible successor to MikeLombardi three years ago, although the team denied the report."
Spartacus, I'm a United States Marines Vietnam veteran, so I don't have to fabricate my credentials. I've forgotten more about the Raiders than you will ever remember in your lifetime. I enjoy chatting with you, so don't take it personally my friend!
Id like to believe but he just looks like a track star in pads to me ... and neither guy drafted this season should be aiming to replace Nnamdi. That job should fall to McFadden or Ware. Unfortunately, I fully expect the job to fall to Chris Johnson
@oaklandraider Very well said. That is definitely an acceptable opinino. That is why I presented both sides and urged a bit of calm about the pick.
interesting that the two guys you mentioned are short and short-armed whereas Demarcus is tall, long limbed and very fast like Nnamdi and according to Rod Woodson has good hips. i am not saying he is the next Nnamdi but I am saying he has many similar traits that cannot be taught and those he is lacking can be developed through weight training and good coaching courtesy of Rod.
Brown, Ross and now Woodson will teach these corners what they need to know. It's on them to develop their technique and apply it properly during the games. My main concern with DVD is him becoming strong enough so he doesn't get man handled by receivers like Wes Welker or Danny Amendola in the run game. That would be weak, literally.
If DVD didn't have the skills the Raiders covet, does anyone think that Hall of Famer Rod Woodson would damage his reputation? I would rather take the advice of a coach or scout who has actually played the game at a high level, than a Draft expert who are more wrong than right on a consistent basis. If you look at the Raiders starters now, none were projected to be starters. There are (2) things you cannot teach: speed and talent; but you can teach technique. Levi, thank you for having the common sense to research DVD and get the (truth) about what really happened at Miami. If more people would do their own research instead of letting these so-called experts do their thinking for them, they'll stop listening to these biased reports. If any other team would have drafted DVD, would anyone be saying that he was drafted because of his speed, not his skills?
@SkipMaster you just posted everything i was going to say!
@SkipMaster Well said Skip.
@SkipMaster Thanks for that. It helped that following his being drafted, I actually asked Demarcus the question about why he started eight games as a freshman and just three as a senior and that was his response. No better research than to get it directly from the source.
Remember when we drafted Nnamdi. Everyone squealed with laughter as he was projected anywhere from the third to fifth round and played safety at Cal. Further, remember that he looked horrible until his third season when his hard work and perseverance paid off
@toddscolari Comparing every surprising cornerback pick the Raiders make to Nnamdi is not really a good idea. Nnamdi is a once in a decade (perhaps two decades) quality talent. For every Nnamdi, there are several Fabian Washingtons and Phillip Buchannons.
Overall, the Raiders had a pretty good draft. However, the reality facing our team, is that Asomugah will not be resigned. Losing him to free agency is going to hurt the Raiders more than most people think, as opposing teams will now gain a mental edge in throwing the ball to both sides of the field. Sorry folks, Stanford Routt is good, but he is no Asomugah, and never will be...
The Raiders needed quality corners out of the draft, and even though Chekwa and DVD are amazingly fast, they are both projects at best, and the Raiders do not need a project filling in the shoes of Asomugah. The Raiders needed a quality young player who is NFL ready, and it boggles my mind that they did not pursue Ras-I Dowling or Jimmy Smith. If corner is one of the top priorities, why not trade up and get the best possible player available??? Quality is more important than quantity, and with the Raiders giving up a second round pick next year, I would have much rather sacrificed a #2 and some change in next years draft and a 7th in this years, for a Dowling or a Smith. These guys have way more value, and if corner wasn't so strong in this years draft, these guys could have been top 15 picks in any other draft.
Al Davis lives for speed. It has defined him, and has also sadly tainted his vision. A great weapon to have, speed is only part of the equation, as heart, instinct and vision are key indredients he tends to overlook. Jimmy Smith may not be as fast as DVD, but he certainly knows how to play the game of football, and if I lose a guy like Asomugah, I want a true football player replacing him, not another track star....
@Spartacus We would've had to give up way too much to get a first round pick. Why give up so much for a player that has character issues or for a player that's unproven. It's not guaranteed that either of the guys you mentioned will have solid careers in the NFL. The Draft is a crap shoot. Yea they were great in college but let's be real here. There's a big jump from college to the NFL. Totally different atmosphere. I'm not saying that they won't become elite corners in the league... I'm just sayin there's no guaranteed... Why take the risk? Don't forget we have Walter McFadden and Jeremy Ware too. We don't know what these guys are gonna end up doin in their careers. Both have potential tho. Chekwa and DVD have potential too. Rod Woodson vouched for both of these guys! They have all the physical tools to become elite, if not, solid corners in the NFL. You can never have too many corners. Namdi's asking price is gonna be too high. Why tie up so much cash into one player, when you can use that money to address the other issues that we have. Namdi is a Raider Great! Don't get it twisted! But he's one man. How many gamechanging INT's has he had? Not very many... For the amount of money he'll be commanding, he has to have more game changing plays. I think they messed up by not trading him for something. Instead they're gonna let him walk for nothin. Routt was pretty solid. He had a lot of balls thrown his way.
@bstallion510 Nnamdi will not be lost for completely nothing. If he leaves in FA, the Raiders will receive a round three compensatory selection in the 2012 draft.
@Spartacus Neither Dowling or Smith have the necessary speed to play man coverage exclusively. You said it yourself. How can they be shutdown corners if they can't protect the endzone from anywhere on the field. There is a reason why Peterson went 5th overall and they went on day two. Now, I believe they can be great corners if they don't have to worry about getting beat deep with safety help. Unfortunately, Raider CBs don't have that luxury. If your not at least 6ft tall and run a sub 4.40, you better be 5'11 and run in the 4.2s. AJ Green isn't fast and he beat Smith deep, but the ball was late so he was able to break it up. The ball is rarely late in the NFL when a good QB knows its man coverage. I'd rather try developing a speedster, instead of changing the defense to cover over the top of a slow CB.
If the Raiders would have drafted any cornerback in the 2nd round, you and Raider Nation would be complaining about the offensive line. All during the pre-draft people were stressing that the Raiders shore up their offensive line first. The organization know what and who they need on their team and draft according to (their) needs, not ours.
I'm sure that Rod Woodson and Mr. Davis know how to rate players much better than any and all of us!!!