The Raiders selected Arkansas running back Darren McFadden with the fourth overall pick in the 2008 NFL draft on April 26. McFadden rushed for 4,590 yards and 41 touchdowns in three seasons with the Razorbacks. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound native of North Little Rock, Ark. was the Heisman Trophy runner-up the past two seasons. He compares to the Saints' Reggie Bush and Vikings’ Adrian Peterson.
“I knew months ago that this was the guy that we had to have, and we had to figure out a way to get him,” Raiders coach Lane Kiffin told reporters after Oakland selected McFadden.
McFadden, right, joins Georgia's Herschel Walker as the only players in Southeastern Conference history to reach 1,000 rushing yards as a freshman, sophomore and junior. McFadden rushed for 1,113 yards in 2005, 1,647 in 2006 and a school-record 1,830 yards in 2007.
The two-time winner of the Doak Walker Award as the nation's top running back is a burner, reportedly clocking 4.33 seconds in the 40-yard dash. He scored 33 touchdowns (30 via the run) his final two college seasons.
“I feel like I’m a very skilled guy,” McFadden told Bay Area media in a conference call April 26. “I feel like I’m ready to step in there. I’m not the type of guy that’s going to be happy (just) to be in the NFL, and when I get there I want to be doing great things, I don’t want to just be out there. I want to play great and make big plays.”
McFadden, who turns 21 Aug. 27, joins a crowded Oakland backfield. The Raiders re-signed lead back Justin Fargas to a reported three-year, $12 million contract earlier during the offseason. Dominic Rhodes, former starter LaMont Jordan, Michael Bush and Adimchinobe Echemandu also are under contract.
The Raiders are counting on McFadden to add a gamebreaking dimension to an inconsistent offense. Oakland finished the 2007 season ranked 25th in total yards (294.8 yards per game) and 23rd in scoring (17.7 points).
During his Arkansas career, McFadden also caught 46 passes for 365 yards and two touchdowns. He threw seven touchdown passes and returned a kickoff for a score. He averaged 5.68 yards per rush on 785 career rushes.
McFadden is the first running back selected by the Raiders with their first pick of the draft since Washington's Napoleon Kaufman was picked in 1995.
Despite his huge upside as a playmaker, there are concerns about McFadden.
On the field, he lost nine of 23 fumbles during three seasons at Arkansas. His 23 fumbles reportedly led the nation over that period.
Off the field, McFadden reportedly was invloved in two incidents at Arkansas nightclubs.
Kiffen told reporters that he’s comfortable with McFadden’s attitude after speaking with the ex-Razorbacks star about his off-the-field issues.
"I wanted to know if he was going to make excuses for them or was he going to be accountable for them," Kiffin said. "And (McFadden) says, ‘Those are situations that I should have made a better decision. I’ve learned from them now, and I am going to make better decisions now.’ As opposed to, ‘This is why I did it because I had to protect my brother,’ or whatever the situation is."