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It's an annual rite of Spring, just like street fairs, warmer weather, and the dandelions popping back up. Every year, Mel Kiper, Jr. completely flips out live on ESPN over how upset he is with the Oakland Raiders because he doesn't like who they picked in the NFL Draft.
The 2010 Draft was no different. "The fifteenth-best player on the board, and you take him at this particular (No. 8 overall) spot?" Kiper yelled when the Raiders picked Rolando McClain. "The Raiders have reached before, and I think they do it again."
"You had (Notre Dame QB Jimmy) Clausen sitting there!", Kiper said, not realizing that Clausen would still be sitting there until the mid-second round.
But this year, Kiper is reassessing his Raiders diatribe. "I may have undersold what Oakland did in the draft," Kiper admitted this week in an ESPN Insider article.
Of course, you have to pay for ESPN Insider articles. And considering that Kiper misspells Lamarr Houston's name in the headline, you wonder about the quality of that "premium" content.
Fortunately, Kiper's colleague Bill Williamson copied and pasted the important parts onto his ESPN AFC West blog. Williamson quotes Kiper as saying "I'm honestly starting to think I really underrated this guy (Raiders first-round pick Rolando McClain)."
"I look at the measurables and in terms of combine tests, he's better almost across the board than (No. 3 overall pick) Gerald McCoy." Kiper says. "If this guy becomes a big impact player early in his career I'll no longer be surprised."
Just to clarify, six weeks ago Kiper called McClain "the fifteenth-best player on the board". This week, Kiper rates McClain as better than the third player selected. There has been basically no football played during these six weeks, but somehow the rookie Raiders linebacker got a whole bunch better.
It almost makes you want to believe Mel Kiper. Almost.
Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who was not surprised when Jon Gruden's first words about the Raiders picking Rolando McClain began with the phrase "This guy right here..."