Dec 22, 2013; San Diego, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders fan Wayne Mabry (Violator) reacts in the second half against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. The Chargers won 26-13. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Gabe Jackson will be Fine as a Raider

On Friday, Gabe Jackson was drafted in the Third Round of the NFL Draft and 81st overall. In general, this was the reaction by most Mississippi State Fans:

Woohoo! Gabe got drafted!

Oh crap! He was drafted by the Raiders!

I like the NFL, and I follow along, but I don’t usually invest myself into it too much. Why? Since 1988, I have been a Raiders’ fan.

That being said, I completely understand why Mississippi State fans felt so bad for Jackson when he was picked up by the Raiders. I’m 35 years old, and I missed out on all the cool years of the 60s, 70s, and early 80s when the Raiders were one of the best franchises in all of sports. I’ve gotten lots of really bad Mike Shanahan, a few good years of Art Shell, a bunch of bad coaches I can’t remember, mix in some fun years with John Gruden and Rich Gannon, and then finish it off with more really bad coaches and major suckitude. So you see why I’m not all pumped up on the second Sunday in September every year. Despite all that, I think Gabe Jackson has a lot to look forward to as a Raider

Al Davis, may he RIP

Al Davis was at one time one of the best owners to play for in professional sports. The last 25 years of his life were not that way though. Davis stubbornly clung to the idea that you could get a quarterback who could sling the ball 80 yards down the field and get receivers who were faster than everyone else and win football games that way. What Raiders’ fans got were losses piled upon losses. Most Raiders’s fans weren’t happy to see him pass away because that is just creepy (though there were some). That doesn’t mean most were dumb to the fact that his passing meant that we wouldn’t be subjected to terrible mismanagement any longer.

For the most part, that has been the case. Mark Davis, the son of Al Davis, has made some pretty solid decisions since taking over. The first thing he did was hire a General Manager in Reggie Mackenzie. It is very true that Mackenzie has made some questionable personnel decisions, most notably bringing in Matt Flynn in 2013, since taking the job, but the simple fact that he went out and hired a GM is a step in the right direction. He also has realized that the roster he inherited from his father was a flaming pile of poo. They have been purging themselves of bad contracts over the past three years in the hopes of at least being competitive in 2014 and possibly contending in 2015 or 2016.

Temporary Stopgaps

Expecting the Raiders to compete with any of the other three teams in the AFC West this season is a bit of a stretch. But there isn’t any reason that they couldn’t at least be better than what they have been. Matt Schaub was brought in to be the Quarterback for next season. No, he isn’t great, but up until last season, Schaub had shown that he could be a serviceable NFL quarterback. The hope is that 2013 was an abomination for Schaub, and that he can get back to being serviceable.

Darren McFadden is one of the best running backs in the league, when he is healthy. He almost never is. That’s why Maurice Jones-Drew was brought in. Jones-Drew has his own health problems, but hopefully between the two of them, they can get 16 solid games out of their running backs. Lots of talent in the backfield for the Raiders, just need to make sure they are both back there.

The 2014 Draft Class

The Raiders have been almost universally praised for their decisions during the Draft this year. They upgraded their talent level at some of their most critical need positions. If Matt Schaub turns out to still be a terrible quarterback, the Raiders drafted Derek Carr for the future. Some draft experts had him as the best quarterback in the draft, so to pick him up in the second round was a huge steal for the Raiders. If Schaub doesn’t solidify himself as the best available option at quarterback for the Raiders, don’t be surprised to see Carr take over.

A Starting Job

Gabe Jackson is going to start next year. It’s a testament to how good Jackson is, but it also shows how bad the Raiders’ offensive line has been that a 3rd round pick is coming in and expected to start immediately. It is rare that a 3rd round pick gets an opportunity to start, so Jackson needs to make the most of it.

Yes, I know the Raiders have been terrible, but I think that window is going to close soon. And no, that isn’t because I am a fan of the team. Over the past 26 years, the only time I ever felt like the team was going to improve was when Gruden was the head coach. That’s it. So for me to actually think there might be brighter days ahead for the Raiders, that’s pretty significant. So be happy that Gabe got drafted, and for one of the few times in the last 25 years of the Raiders’ franchise, be happy he gets to be a Raider.

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