The surest way to tell whether the Al Davis era really ended with his passing will be to match up the Raiders draft this season with the list of the top 40 times at the combine. Because as much as NFL people always joke about how Davis was obsessed with speed, the reality of it is even more dramatic than you probably realize.
Todd McShay compiled the fastest 40 times run at the combine since 2005 and where they went in the draft.
2005: CB Fabian Washington, 4.29 seconds (first round, Oakland Raiders)
2006: CB Tye Hill, 4.30 (first round, St. Louis Rams)
2007: WR/RS Yamon Figurs, 4.30 (third round, Baltimore Ravens)
2008: RB Chris Johnson, 4.24 (first round, Tennessee Titans)
2009: WR Darrius Heyward-Bey, 4.30 (first round, Raiders)
2010: WR Jacoby Ford, 4.28 (fourth round, Raiders)
2011: CB DeMarcus Van Dyke, 4.37 (third round, Raiders)
Four of the seven were drafted by Oakland including the last three, but it's worth noting that only Chris Johnson & Tye Hill never went on to play for the Raiders at some point. So that's 5 of the 7 fastest 40 time runners ending up on the Raiders. And of course, their luck is that the only one who became a star was one of the two they didn't get.
Just as a case study, the Raiders took Darius Heyward-Bey ahead of Jeremy Maclin in the 2009 draft. Maclin's 40 time was .15 seconds slower. Their career numbers so far?
Jeremy Maclin - 189 rec, 2,596 yds, 19 TDs
Heyward-Bey - 99 rec, 1,465 yds, 6 TDs.
I'm sure better QB play helped... but this isn't even close.