ALAMEDA, Calif. -- So many times it seems as though a season can be summed up in a single play, a microcosm of sorts. For our purposes here, and in reflection of many other similar stories by ESPN.com NFL Nation colleagues, I've come up with 10 plays that shaped the Oakland Raiders' season. So without further ado, and in chronological order, away we go …
Too harsh? Possibly. Too soon? The Raiders certainly hope so.
On the positive side, Oakland general manager Reggie McKenzie was able to trade out of the No. 3 overall spot to No. 12 while picking up a second-round selection in the process. It's just that the Raiders received little in return for their first two draft picks as rookies.
Granted, Hayden nearly died the previous time he was on a football field after a practice collision at the University of Houston, but that was no surprise to the Raiders and McKenzie did say he was so impressed with Hayden he would have taken him third overall had he been unable to swing a trade. So the Raiders were willing to take that chance. Hayden appeared in eight games and had one interception before a groin injury ended his season.
“I wouldn't say (it was) the worst case scenario because it could have been way worse than it was,” Hayden said. “I say it was a good learning experience for all of us, come in stronger next year.”
Watson, meanwhile, had played organized football for all of two years with one year at the major college level -- Florida State -- so yeah, the Raiders were reaching here, too. And injuries to his calf and knee surgery severely stunted the right tackle's development as the No. 42 overall pick appeared in five games, with three starts.
Hindsight is always 20/20 but here's a list of players selected after Hayden: defensive tackles Sheldon Richardson and Star Lotulelei as well as Pro Bowlers in safety Eric Reid, guard Kyle Long (yes, Howie's son) and receiver Cordarrelle Patterson. Linebacker Kiko Alonso, running back Eddie Lacy and receiver Keenan Allen were drafted after Watson.
True, Hayden could be the next Mike Haynes and Watson could morph into a Henry Lawrence down the road, but for the 2013 season, the injury-plagued duo's selections as the “deconstructing” Raiders' top two draft picks epitomized Oakland's bumpy plight.
Come back Thursday for Play No. 2…