AFC West: Fabian Washington

It just makes sense.

After Oakland took offensive lineman Stefen Wisniewski in the second round, the Raiders came back at No. 81 and took Miami cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke.

A classic Oakland pick.

He was one of the fastest players at the combine, keeping up with a Raider tradition. Last year, Oakland took receiver Jacoby Ford, who was the fastest player at the combine and it recently took combine star cornerback Fabian Washington and Stanford Routt.

Van Dyke is not polished, but he has raw ability. He may have to play right away if star Nnamdi Asomugha leaves through free agency.
The Oakland Raiders are among the NFL teams that were inspirations for the league as it presents a new rookie pay scale.

Since 2000, the Raiders have drafted 13 players in the first round. They contracted for a total $164,105,636 in guaranteed money before any of them played in an NFL game. That is an average of $12,623,510 per player. The Raiders have selected six players in the top 10 of the draft since 2004 -- Rolando McClain, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Darren McFadden, JaMarcus Russell, Michael Huff and Robert Gallery -- who signed for $136,686,636 in guaranteed money for an average of $22,781,106 per player. The Raiders’ first round guaranteed money total is among the highest in the NFL since 2000.

A major reason why Oakland had paid out so much is because it has often drafted high in the past decade. That's the basis of the NFL's new rookie pay proposal. It wants to streamline the pay scale. The NFL reportedly wants to cut almost 60 percent of guaranteed pay for first-round draft picks and divert the savings to veterans' salaries and benefits in an attempt to solve the month-old lockout.

Aaron Rodgers' trip to the Super Bowl has to be a harsh reminder of a mistake made by many of the 23 teams that bypassed Rodgers in the 2005 draft. The Cal product was taken by Green Bay with the No. 24 overall pick. He has become an elite-level player.

Rodgers
Rodgers
Of course, the team that has to feel the worst about overlooking Rodgers is San Francisco. The 49ers bypassed the local boy with the No.1 pick to take Utah quarterback Alex Smith. We know what a terrible misuse that was. Let’s take a look at the AFC West teams and how it worked out for them after not taking Rodgers.

San Diego, No. 12: The Chargers took linebacker Shawne Merriman. San Diego can’t be dinged here. Merriman was a dominant player for three years before a series of injuries altered his career. Plus, the Chargers took Philip Rivers the year before. There was no need for a quarterback.

Kansas City, No. 15: In retrospect, there could have been an argument for the Chiefs to take Rodgers. But at the time, I don’t think it was a terrible choice. The Chiefs took linebacker Derrick Johnson. He’s been a fine pick. Sure, Rodgers would look good in a Chiefs uniform, but he’d look good in many uniforms. The Chiefs didn’t have a pressing need at quarterback at the time, so I can’t bash this decision. Still, the team clearly was in the market for a young quarterback. The Chiefs took quarterback James Kilian in the seventh round in 2005 and they took Brodie Croyle in the third round the next season. So, taking a falling Rodgers at No. 15 could have been tempting.

Oakland, No. 23: This is where it hurts. The Raiders moved up to No. 23. They earlier traded the No. 7 pick to Minnesota in the Randy Moss trade. It appeared that Oakland would end Rodgers’ fall and keep him in the East Bay. Instead, Oakland took cornerback Fabian Washington. Instead of a taking a franchise quarterback-in-waiting, the Raiders -- who were entering the second season of an uninspiring two-season Kerry Collins era -- took the speedy Washington out of Nebraska. Washington was traded to Baltimore for a fourth-round draft pick after three seasons. While Oakland didn’t whiff on Rodgers as badly as San Francisco, you have to wonder where this franchise would be now had the Raiders addressed a need and pleased the home folks by taking Rodgers instead taking Washington.

Denver didn’t have a first-round pick. It traded the No. 25 pick to Washington four days before the draft. The Redskins took Jason Campbell one pick after Rodgers was taken. He is now Oakland’s quarterback.

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