The Raiders have employed many interesting characters over the years. But they have never employed an offensive tackle who talks like a Beatle.

Until now.

In the second round of Friday's NFL draft, Raider general manager Reggie McKenzie used the extra pick he acquired in a Thursday trade to select offensive tackle Menelik Watson, who is from England and had never played American-style serious football until . . . wait for it . . . two years ago.

This means that right now in America, there is some junior high school lineman who has played more downs of tackle football than the guy selected by the Raiders with 42nd pick of the draft.

Is Watson raw? What do you think? Is Ringo Starr a drummer? Does the Queen ride in a cutesy carriage pulled by lots of nice horsies?

Yet if you are wondering why the Raiders selected Watson, the answer is right there at the top of his biography. Watson is 6-foot-5 and 310 pounds. You can't coach mammoth-ness.

Frankly, this looks like one of those wild-and-crazy roll-the-dice-on-potential high draft picks that the late Al Davis used to make for the Raiders. So perhaps McKenzie, who wore an Oakland uniform as a NFL player, has a bit more of that old eyepatch spirit in him than we originally thought.


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It's quite a story. Watson came to America because he was recruited to play college basketball but was moderately unimpressive in his time at Marist College in New York — so he decided to attempt football in California at Saddleback Community College in Mission Viejo. He picked it up so fast, major colleges came calling. A year later, he was at Florida State.

And after just one season in Tallahassee, Watson decided to declare for the draft. And has become a Raider. McKenzie clearly sees potential in the kid -- who is not really a kid because with all the bouncing around he's done, Watson is 24 years old. This could turn out terrific or could go the other way. Patience will be paramount.

In that sense, McKenzie must have major confidence in Tony Sparano, the Raiders' offensive line coach, who will be charged with Watson's tutelage.

First lesson: Make friends with those jolly painted-face chaps in the Black Hole, mate.

For more Mark Purdy, go to mercurynews.com/purdy