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Raiders struggle to find impact players in draft

  • San Diego Chargers free safety Eric Weddle (32) laughs as he talks with Oakland Raiders outside linebacker Sio Moore (55) after of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013, in San Diego. The Chargers won 26-13. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)

ALAMEDA — For an organization seeking to rebuild through the draft, the Oakland Raiders have struggled to find impact players in the first two drafts under general manager Reggie McKenzie.

Whether because of injuries, a lack of enough premium picks or bad decisions, the Raiders have gotten only one starter from the last two grab bags.

Of the 16 players taken in McKenzie's first two draft classes, five are no longer with the organization, three are on season-ending injured reserve, and most of the others are struggling to get on the field.

With the organization hampered by bad contracts from departed players that are still eating up salary cap space, the misses in the draft are more notable, a clear factor in another disappointing season in Oakland.

"Sometimes things don't work out," coach Dennis Allen said. "Sometimes mistakes are made. But, I'm very confident in Reggie McKenzie and the personnel staff of being able to evaluate football players: quarterbacks, offensive linemen, defensive lineman. I'm very confident in his ability to do that. I'm very confident in our ability as a coaching staff to do that."

Allen said it is far too early to judge this year's draft class, which has been mostly underwhelming from the top on down. The biggest disappointments have been first-round cornerback D.J. Hayden, who struggled before going on IR, and fourth-round quarterback Tyler Wilson, who spent most of the year on the practice squad before being signed by Tennessee last week.

Sixth-round running back Latavius Murray has also missed the entire season with an ankle injury.

McKenzie and the Raiders have had much greater success finding productive undrafted free agents, with the most notable being receiver Rod Streater and quarterback Matt McGloin.

But with little cap room to sign free agents, the Raiders could ill afford to miss on their top pick. They traded down nine spots to take Hayden 12th overall, despite a near-fatal heart injury that cut short his final season in college.

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