Jake Long or Vernon Gholston to Miami Dolphins?

11 04 2008

Which is the answer to the Dolphins’ woes? (Another classic Ohio State vs Michigan showdown)

Reports have been flying that the Dolphins are in contract negotiations with the agents of Jake Long and Vernon Gholston, either of which they could select with the top pick. This is surprising since many draft pundits had the Dolphins selecting either Matt Ryan or Chris Long with the first overall pick. The Dolphins need both defensive and offensive line help and it looks like Bill Parcells is going to address them in the draft. Remember, the Dolphins have two first round picks since New England lost their own first rounder, the Dolphins second round pick essentially becomes a first round pick. The pick that would make most sense would be Jake Long being the top overall pick. The Dolphins cut a few offensive tackles and he would be able to start at right tackle immediately. Also, Gholston to the Dolphins also makes sense since he would be playing across from Jason Taylor and helping out with the pass rush. The combine really helped increase Gholston’s draft stock and he could go as high as number 1. If one of them is selected, it would definitely change who the Raiders select at number 4. It could mean that the Raiders would have a chance to draft Chris Long. A new revised draft of the first five rounds could look like this:

1st pick- Dolphins select Jake Long

2nd pick- Rams select Vernon Gholston

3rd pick – Falcons select Glenn Dorsey

4th pick- Raiders select CHRIS LONG!

Chris Long would help our beleaguered defensive line with the pass rush. He also does not give up on plays and will chase the running back down. This would be an amazing pick and not even Al Davis could screw this one up. However, if Chris Long is gone and Gholston is still around, I would not hesitate to pull the trigger. Check out this video of Gholston bull-rushing past Jake Long because it certainly makes you think about who should be the first overall pick. Also, if Jake Long is still around, I would just as easily draft him since he has great potential and he displayed some speed in the combine. Size and speed would be great in our current offensive line zone-blocking scheme. I would get Tom Cable’s opinion on this pick, though.

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First Round Trade Possibilities

9 04 2008

While the Raiders possess the fourth overall pick, trading down in the first round would help address more needs with additional picks. I will evaluate several trade possibilities using the trade value chart.

Is D-Mac running off to Dallas or the New York Jets?

Dallas Cowboys

I’m sure by now everyone has heard of Jerry Jones’ obsession with Darren McFadden and that the Cowboys have two first round picks. Would they be open to trading up for Darren McFadden? Jones has stated that he will not be moving up in the first round but you never know what may happen on draft day. A few teams that pick behind the Raiders would be open to drafting McFadden should the Raiders pass, namely the Jets or the Patriots. If the Raiders did trade their pick to the Cowboys, compensation would include both of Dallas’ first rounders, the 22nd and 28th picks, and their second rounder, 61st overall. This would be a smart move for Oakland since it would enable us to draft both a defensive tackle and an offensive tackle in the first round. The second rounder could be used on the best available wide receiver. The Cowboys could draft McFadden and trade Marion Barber III away for some draft picks.

New York Jets

The Jets might look to trade up to snatch Darren McFadden as well. They could use an impact running back to compete in the division with the Patriots. McFadden might not get past the Chiefs if the Raiders pass on him. The Jets definitely have the short end of the stick this draft, since many of the impact defensive and offensive players may not be around when the Jets select at number six. The Jets may trade up to the Raiders selection in exchange for their 6th pick overall, their two fourth rounders and a fifth rounder. With the 6th overall, the Raiders could still get a defensive tackle like Glenn Dorsey or Sedrick Ellis, depending on who falls. The fourth rounders could be used on a wide receiver and an offensive tackle.

I’m going to Cincinnati?

Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals might want to move up even higher in the first round to select a franchise defensive tackle in either Glenn Dorsey or Sedrick Ellis. At least one of them is going to be available when the Raiders select, if not both. However, they might not fall to the Bengals at number 9. The Chiefs could also be after a defensive tackle, and they would likely take which ever one falls past the top 4 picks. After failing to secure a trade for Shaun Rogers in the off season, the Bengals still have a need for a top-tier defensive tackle. Both Dorsey and Ellis will appeal to them and they may be willing to acquire the Raiders 4th pick in exchange for their 9th pick and their second rounder, 46th overall. This trade would put the Raiders in an interesting position, enabling us to draft the best outside linebacker in the draft in Keith Rivers. We could use the second rounder to draft an offensive tackle.

Will Matt Ryan follow the path of Rex Grossman?

Chicago Bears

This trade would be the least likely of the three but it is still possible. The Bears might want to acquire quarterback Matt Ryan to secure their future as Rex Grossman is too inconsistent. Matt Ryan might not be available once the New York Jets draft, as they also have quarterback needs. A move up in the draft would have Chicago trade their 14th pick, their second rounder, 44th overall and a menagerie of 5th, 6th or 7th round picks. The Raiders could use the 14th pick to draft an offensive tackle like Ryan Clady or Jeff Otah. And the second rounder could be used to draft a wide receiver.





Pick Number 4 Addressing Needs

7 04 2008

The Raiders have the 4th pick in this month’s coming draft and there is still not a consensus choice among Raiders fans. Some say they want to address the defensive line by drafting Glenn Dorsey or Vernon Gholston. Others want to draft McFadden or Jake Long. Where do we really need help?

Needs

Offensive Line

Jake Long                                                            Ryan Clady

This offseason, the Raiders cut last year’s starting left tackle, Barry Sims. This was an interesting move since it alludes to the fact that our offensive line coach, Tom Cable, thinks Mario Henderson is at least as good as Sims. If that is the case then Jamarcus Russell’s blindside could be in a dangerous position. We traded this year’s third rounder for Mario Henderson and he has not accomplished much in his one season with the Raiders. It would seem a little risky to put the livelihood of our future superstar quarterback in the hands of a second year player who failed to supplant anyone on the offensive line last year. It should be noted that we signed tackle Kwame Harris from the 49ers this offseason, but he played primarily at right tackle and did not impress across the bay. Kiffin has mentioned that they have been practicing with Kwame Harris at left tackle, which must mean that he has more mobility than average for a tackle. Ever since last year’s improved offensive line play, I have faith in Kiffin and Tom Cable to fix any problems. Since the Raiders utilize a zone-blocking scheme, the traits we look for in our offensive line differs from traits that might be seen in traditional offensive linemen. For instance, speed and athletic ability are much more valuable than size and bulk for linemen. This scheme decreased the amount of sacks allowed last year and increased the amount of rushing yards. If we were to draft for the offensive line, we would be looking at Jake Long or Ryan Clady. Long not only has size and strength, but he has mobility too. He ran one of the fastest offensive line 40s at the combine. If he is taken, he could probably start at left tackle on opening day or right tackle at the very least. Clady is slightly smaller but he played in a zone blocking scheme during his college years at Boise State. He is quick and has huge potential at left tackle. However, he is not valuable enough to draft him with the number 4 pick. Best case scenario: Either draft Jake Long or trade down and grab more draft picks and take an offensive lineman early.

Defensive LIne

Chris Long                                                                   Sedrick Ellis

The Raiders locked up defensive tackle/end Tommy Kelly this past offseason. He will predictably fill Warren Sapp’s retired presence as a three-technique on the defensive line. Currently, our other starting tackle is Terdell Sands, who played dismally last year right after signing a huge contract. The Raiders were horrible at stopping the run last year and an improvement on the defensive line is the starting point for improving this. Drafting Glenn Dorsey or Sedrick Ellis would improve our sack count and allow our linebackers to make plays on the running back. As is, our defensive line is not adequate since the only change that occurred was the loss of Warren Sapp to retirement. Best case scenario: We draft Sedrick Ellis with number 4 or trade down and hope he falls to us. In terms of our defensive ends, the only presence we have on the pass rush is Derrick Burgess. He had a downer last year, but he looks to bounce back, especially if he gets help opposite from him in the draft. This help could come in the form of Chris Long or Vernon Gholston. Both played defensive end and outside linebacker in college and both are tremendous athletes. Both can get to the quarterback and help stuff runs outside the offensive tackles. Best case scenario: Chris Long amazingly falls to us and we draft him with the 4th pick overall.

Outside LInebacker

Keith Rivers

Kirk Morrison and Thomas Howard can both be future Pro-Bowlers. They are great in coverage and look to improve on run-defense. However, the platoon of Robert Thomas and Sam Williams at outside linebacker is not enough. Neither are sure tacklers and an upgrade is at the bottom of the list of needs but it could still be addressed. Best case scenario: Trade down and draft Keith Rivers in the middle of the first round.

NOT Needs

Darren McFadden

To start with, I should say flat out that we do not need another running back. Last season we we’re among the top in the league in rushing yards even though we had a mediocre offensive line. Not to mention the fact that we have Lamont Jordan, Dominic Rhodes, Justin Fargas and Michael Bush as possible starters. What could Darren McFadden bring to the Raiders in the event that we do draft him? Well, I’m sure by now you’ve seen highlight videos of him at Arkansas running past everyone in the SEC. You may have even seen him throwing a pass or two in their Wildhog formation. Bottom line, McFadden has the ability to break the game open with a huge run. Paired with J-Russell, our quarterback and running back positions would be set for a decade. However, in case some people forgot, we still have a home-run threat in Michael Bush. Look up some videos of him busting out huge plays back at Louisville. We picked him up in the fourth round of the 2007 draft after he broke his tibia early in the college football season. He was projected to be a top ten pick when the 2007 draft came around but he dropped due to his injury. Now he is fully healed and will look to compete for playing time against our other running backs. Dominic Rhodes took a pay cut in order to come back in 2008 which means that Lamont Jordan will be either cut or traded. Hopefully we can get a draft pick for him.

Availability

Who will be available when the Raiders draft at number 4?

Jake Long will be gone to Miami at number 1.

Chris Long will be gone to St. Louis at number 2.

Glenn Dorsey will be gone to Atlanta at number 3.

And with number 4, the Raiders select Sedrick Ellis or Vernon Gholston

Vernon Gholston on the prowl





Why DeAngelo Hall?

4 04 2008

dhall.jpg

At first glance, the DeAngelo Hall trade seems to be puzzling. The Raiders already have Nnamdi Asomugha as a lockdown corner and Fabian Washington still has plenty of room to grow, and he is cheaper. Backup Stanford Routt is a perfect dime-back. Also, we could have used our second rounder to pick up a top tier wide receiver or offensive tackle in the coming draft. Not even mentioning the $50 plus million dollars he will be owed with his extension. The question remains why.

Well, having two extremely talented man-cover corners definitely makes life easer for the linebackers and defensive line. With our awesome secondary, the box can be stacked even more to help out with run defense. The linebackers will not have to drop back in coverage as much and the strong safety can move up into the box to help run support. Plus, if no wide receiver can get open, sacks will be easier to come by. Drafting a defensive lineman with our first rounder would make our pass rush even better. Burgess is already set at on defensive end spot and having Chris Long/Vernon Gholston on the other side would be amazing.

DeAngelo will create a lose-lose situation for quarterbacks. If they decide not to throw in Asomugha’s direction, they will have to throw to Hall. Not to mention having Michael Huff prowling around for interceptions. However, was the price justified? I say yes, if they can lock Asomugha up to a similar deal. With both corners on long term deals, the focus can shift to the defensive line, which we did not improve in the offseason. Time will tell just how effective this deal really is.





Al Davis chooses YOU!

4 04 2008

Al Davis

Who will Lane Kiffin Al Davis draft in the first round on April 26th? Lets take a look at who he has drafted in past first rounds.

2003

Nnamdi Asomugha – One of the best cover corners in the league, even if he took a couple years to blossom. An outstanding pick by Davis. Now if we can lock him up with a long-term deal.

Tyler Brayton – Played marginally well but alas, he left for Carolina this past offseason.

2004

Robert Gallery – Hmmm. A huge bust at left tackle, but our offensive line was in complete disarray the past couple of years. Under Tom Cable, he has blossomed as a starting left guard. He has a future there.

2005

Fabian Washington – Another highly-touted corner who has failed to perform to expectations. Now with the acquisition of Deangelo Hall, he needs to be shipped out pronto. Hopefully for a third or fourth rounder. Maybe we can package him in a Dallas trade down deal? They do need a corner and he’s solid.

2006

Michael Huff – Huff performed well in his rookie season as a starter, but he has failed to record an interception. There seems to be a trend in picking defensive backs. But that all ends with one of the youngest secondaries in the league. Gibril Wilson will move to SS, freeing up Huff to move to FS. Hall and Asomugha will lock down each of their receivers. Who will Jay Cutler through at on opening day? Asomugha or Hall, such a tough decision.

2007

Jamarcus Russell – We await this gunslinger’s fate. With Javon Walker, Drew Carter and Ronald Curry as wideouts, it shouldn’t be too hard. And possibly Chris Henry, anyone?

2008

Chris Long – Hopefully.

Analysis
Davis’ tendencies on draft day tend to be to select flashy players with sub 4.4 40 times. He also doesn’t necessarily select players whom fit a need for the Raiders (e.g. Fabian Washington). For this reason he might select Darren McFadden, which would be detrimental to further developing the team in 2008. With the current glut of running backs in Oakland, we need to cut, rather than draft them. He could also draft Vernon Gholston since he had an awesome combine, which would be fine since it feels a need. Other than that, its fingers crossed when the Raiders come to draft.





USC Trojans Pro Day

4 04 2008

Sedrick Ellis

USC Pro Day

The Raiders could possibly select one or more Trojans in the upcoming draft. With Lane Kiffin’s connection to USC, I would not be surprised if he does in fact select college football players whom he helped recruit and coach. The names that come most to mind are Sedrick Ellis, Lawrence Jackson and Thomas Williams.

The best performer of the day was DT Sedrick Ellis. He lost 11 pounds since the combine, ran a 5.00 40 and benched 36 reps. Seems to be a lock for the Raiders at the number 4 pick. If Glenn Dorsey is around, I would still pick Ellis over him. If Chris Long is around, then he will be the selection.

Lawrence Jackson did not workout at pro day but his combine numbers were still solid. Since he has fallen in defensive line rankings, he has a small chance of being around in the fourth round.

Thomas Williams worked out at pro day and ran a solid 4.71 40. He was a utility linebacker at USC and played all three positions. He could add some depth to our weak SLB corp. We could look to pick him up in the 6th or 7th round.

If the Raiders trade down in the first round, they could select even more Trojans players. A trade with for the Cowboys’ two first rounders could net us a DL and USC OT Sam Baker, who would work great in Tom Cable’s zone-blocking scheme. Otherwise, a trade down to the 9th-12th pick could enable us to draft USC OLB Keith Rivers. An instant upgrade to Sam Williams or Robert Thomas.

Fight On!





Berrian and Stallworth gone! WR help needed.

3 03 2008

Bernard Berrian

GONE!!!!

In a shocking turn of events, free agent wide receivers Bernard Berrian and Donte Stallworth signed with the Vikings and Browns, respectively. Two targets for the Raiders are now off the market. While these receivers weren’t anything extraordinary, they would have definitely helped our passing game. Currently we have Ronald Curry as our number 1. Curry is best suited as a slot receiver, and showed flashes of brilliance last year. I still remember that sick catch against the Vikings in ’07. What will happen now?

Free Agency

Randy Moss is still a free agent, but I think we can rule him out. (Unless we take Culpepper back too!)

DJ Hackett is probably the next wide receiver that we could try to nab. He has only played 4 full games due to injuries. But, he is only 27 and we should sign him and see what he can do with Jamarcus.

Javon Walker, the former Bronco’s wideout, could be the answer. He is an extremely talented wideout that the Raiders wouldn’t mind using against Denver twice a season. Walker has character issues, which means he would fit right in with the Raiders. He is 29 but is coming off a major knee surgery, so his signing could be risky.

Drew Carter of the Panthers has been linked with the Raiders. He did fairly well as the #2 receiver in Carolina.

Another target, Bryant Johnson has signed with the Bills.

Draft

It can be assumed that the Raiders will not use their first round pick on a wide receiver. So, we look to the 2nd and possibly 4th round to secure a wide out in this deep class.

2nd round prospects

I personally do not believe that the Raiders should select a wideout with our second rounder, but I am not Al Davis

James Hardy (Indiana)- unlikely that this talented wide out will be here, but if one falls to the second round it would be him.

Early Doucet (LSU)- Excellent at running routes but not extremely fast. Has a rapport with Russell, another LSU alum

Adarius Bowman (Okla. State)- A sizable target at 6-3, he ran a 4.69 40 yard. To put that into perspective, James Hardy is 6-5 and ran a 4.47

4th round prospects

Dexter Jackson (App. State)- A small, fast receiver helped himself immensely at the combine when he ran a 4.37.

Donnie Avery (Houston)- A speedburner who ran a 4.40 40.

Mario Manningham (Michigan)- A great receiver, who ran a slower than expected time of 4.59 at the combine.

Jordy Nelson (Kansas St.)- A nice sized receiver who performed well at the combine.

Eddie Royal (Virginia Tech)- A receiver who ran a 4.39 at the combine.

In all likelihood, the Raiders will sign a lower tier free agent receiver (Drew Carter), and draft a wide receiver in the fourth round (Donnie Avery, Dexter Jackson).