Al Davis had an obsession with speed. It didn't matter if the wide receiver he was drafting had bricks for hands. If he could run, he could play.
Well, it looks like Mark Davis is following in his father's footsteps. A few months after the Raiders surprised everyone by drafting Henry Ruggs and his 4.27 40-yard dash time with the No. 11 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, Mark Davis admitted he was the man behind the pick and the main reason was the need for speed.
Cliff Branch was a sprinter in college and translated his speed to the football field, where he won three Super Bowls with the Raiders and made four Pro Bowls. The Raiders teams he starred on were successful at throwing the ball deep, hence the elder Davis's obsession with speedy wide receivers and big-arm quarterbacks.
It didn't work out for the Al Davis when he drafted wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey and his 4.3 40-yard time with the No. 7 pick in 2009. And Mark Davis is right when he says the Raiders became gun-shy drafting speedy wideouts the last half-decade. They picked Amari Cooper in the first round in 2015. But remember, Cooper only ran a 4.42 40. Pretty slow by Davis standards, at least based on the "we really didn't have anybody that could run" comment. Must have been why they traded him to the Cowboys, where things are working out just fine for Cooper.
Whether Ruggs pans out or not, it's good to know the new Davis running the Raiders is starting to get back to the roots set by the elder Davis. He's doing more interviews, he's getting brasher and he's finally got the speed bug like his father. That combination in Las Vegas, what could go wrong?