From the moment the Oakland Raiders selected Ohio U safety Michael Mitchell as their second round pick in Saturday's NFL Draft, analysts nationwide started ripping the selection as if they were trying out to host "Hell's Kitchen." Full-time pundit Mike Mayock on the NFL Network immediately crowed with condemnation, "The Ohio University safety?!? I had never heard of Mike Mitchell before three weeks ago when he ran a good time at his pro day."
"I asked three GMs Saturday and Sunday where they had Mitchell on their boards," wrote Sports Illustated's Peter King, of Oakland second round pick. "One said he had a seventh-round grade. Two said he had a free-agent grade." A "free agent grade" means a guy shouldn't have been drafted at all.
And what does Al Davis think about this criticism from the media? Well, Davis hasn't commented yet. But former Raider coach Jon Gruden guessed Davis' opinion on the NFL Network, saying, "I know this for a fact. He could less what any of us think of this pick. Period."
We do know what Michael Mitchell himself thinks of all this harrumphing and second guessing, because he sat down with ESPN's Jeffri Chadiha for a long interview the day after the draft.
"I definitely have a lot of motivation," Mitchell told ESPN. "Some people basically said I wasn't a good football player from the minute I got drafted."
They're still saying that, Michael. But this is what motivates Mitchell. Only 28 Ohio University Bobcats have ever been selected in the 73-year history of the NFL Draft, so Mitchell was hardly scouted. He wasn't even invited to the NFL combine, so he had to make his name at a Pro Day and individual team workouts. Mitchell is a classic underdog, longshot, no-attitude player.
And realize the Raiders traded down to get Mitchell. So they not only got Mitchell with the pick, but they got an additional fourth and sixth rounder with the deal. Namely, outside linebacker Slade Norris from Oregon State and Iowa tight end Brandon Myers, if that does anything for you.
Raider coach Tom Cable is on the defensive about the pick, as you can expect him to to be the week after every single draft as long as he is coaching the Raiders. "He's probably the most ferocious hitter in the draft. Very, very physical guy," Cable said in a press conference immediately following the pick. "He has that Ronnie Lott, that Jack Tatum mentality as a player. He literally knocks people out."
No, he literally knocks people out -- unconscious. "I think there's been like three," Mitchell told the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, admitting he has in fact left opponents in need of smelling salts. "Everybody usually gets up, but there's three that I've actually, really, put down."
Let's hope the next three are Denver, San Diego, and Kansas City.
Joe Kukura is a freelance writer from Ohio University who thinks his fellow alumni Michael Mitchell should have been drafted number one overall.