Day 1 Recap

28 04 2008

Who didn’t see this coming?

With the fourth overall pick in the draft, the Oakland Raiders selected Arkansas running back Darren McFadden. Even though Oakland is absolutely stacked at the position, Al Davis defied logic and selected one of the best running backs in the draft. Considering that the Raiders were 30th in run defense in 2007 and that Glenn Dorsey was surprisingly available, Davis could have made the perfect pick for Oakland. However, Lane Kiffin astutely noted that the Raiders have already invested big-time in Terdell Sands and Tommy Kelly to play the defensive tackle spots. Some analysts mentioned that Al Davis was looking for his own star running back in a division with Ladanian Tomlinson and Larry Johnson.

Whatever the reasoning was for taking McFadden, the Raiders must now make the best of the situation. The first order of business should be to trade or cut either Dominic Rhodes, Lamont Jordan or both. What is very intriguing is that Dominic Rhodes took a pay cut to stay in Oakland another year, and Oakland resigned Justin Fargas. It’s a very steep price to pay for two possible back up running backs. I don’t even need to bring Michael Bush into this discussion. Lamont Jordan is definitely an expensive and unnecessary luxury.

With our running backs in 2007, their success was mostly due to the offensive line scheme, as opposed to running back talent. This made our running backs interchangeable and replaceable amongst each other. That is why Lamont Jordan, Justin Fargas and Dominic Rhodes were all able to have several 100 yard rushing games. However, with McFadden in the fold, once the offensive line helps him to get into open space, he has the speed and elusiveness to take the play even further. Many draft pundits have noted that his legs go dead upon contact with defenders, but he is still capable of breaking a few tackles. Also, once McFadden turns the corner around the offensive tackle, it’s off to the races. McFadden may not be able to carry the ball 20-25 times in the NFL which means that our stable of back up running backs will be able to get more use.

During the second round, all of the top wide receivers and other positions were still available and had Oakland not traded the second round pick for DeAngelo Hall, we could have selected Devin Thomas, James Hardy, Trevor Laws or Quentin Groves. All players who could have helped the Raiders out much more than DeAngelo Hall will. The Raiders should have definitely considered trading into the second round in order to have selected Desean Jackson, Malcolm Kelly or Limas Sweed when they fell to the mid-late second round. A possible trade package of Fabian Washington and Lamont Jordan could have netted us a late second rounder.





Chad Johnson in Silver and Black?

21 04 2008

Will Al Davis come and get him?

Disgruntled Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chad Johnson has stated that he will not play for the team in 2008, but he might be interested in the Raiders. In 2007, the Raiders did not have a primary receiving threat and one of our best receivers, Jerry Porter, left for a big contract in Jacksonville. However, in the 2008 off season the Raiders signed Javon Walker to a HUGE contract even though he has had numerous knee problems throughout his career. Also, Drew Carter was signed, and looks to continue his solid performance from Carolina. Adding Chad Johnson would definitely help our wide receiver corp.

Trading for Chad Johnson would only bring about past memories of the Randy Moss trade. The Raiders paid a steep price for his two years of service, and sent him to New England for next to nothing. Moss was limited by injuries, but he was also very lethargic on the offense once he realized he could not help the Raiders win. As we saw last year, all Moss needed was the proper motivation in order to keep him playing on a high level. There were questions about Randy Moss’ ego when he came to Oakland, but he was fairly low key during his stay. Chad Johnson has an enormous ego, but it would be embraced in Oakland much like in the Randy Moss situation. Having Chad Johnson on the Raiders gives Jamarcus Russell an enormously talented receiver. In fact, we would be a very dangerous team on the offense. Chad would take a double team whenever he is on the field and that would leave guys like Walker and Curry open to make plays. Even our tight end Zach Miller would be a bigger threat on the offense. This would be combined with our punishing group of running backs keeping the defense honest. The Raiders offense in 2008 would be very dangerous.

Probably the most important question of this whole situation is how the trade would be accomplished. In most cases, a trade for Chad Johnson would probably have to include a low first rounder or several second and third rounders. But in the Raiders case, a trade for Chad might involve the swapping of first round picks with the Bengals. The scenario could play out like this. In the 2008 NFL Draft, the Dolphins select Jake Long, the Rams select Chris Long, the Falcons select Matt Ryan and with the fourth pick, the Raiders have Glenn Dorsey at their feet. Cincinnati has long needed a defensive tackle to help with their run defense (sound familiar), they came close but a trade for Shaun Rogers fell through. They see that Glenn Dorsey is still on the board and the Raiders are looking to trade down with a team who might want McFadden or Vernon Gholston. A trade for the Raiders’ fourth pick and Fabian Washington is completed with a swap of Cincinnati’s ninth pick overall and Chad Johnson. Cincinnati could get their defensive tackle of the future and the Raiders could still get theirs (Sedrick Ellis).

One problem with a Chad Johnson trade would be his huge contract, but I’m sure the Bengals would have to take care of the bulk of salary. But in the future, his contract would provide quite a sizable salary cap hit for the Raiders. A small prize to pay for his talent.





Fourth Round Pick

16 04 2008

The Raiders will pick 104th overall in the 4th round. Surprisingly, this is only the second pick the Raiders will have in the draft after their first rounder. The Raiders will need to get value with this pick at either the offensive line or the defensive line. If a defensive end or tackle is selected in the first round, then this pick will need to be an offensive lineman. If an offensive tackle is selected in the first round, then this pick will need to be a defensive tackle.

Defensive Tackle

Ahtyba Rubin

A standout defensive tackle out of Iowa St. impressed at the combine. He benched 225 lbs 35 times and is projected to be a nose tackle in a 3-4 defensive system. The Raiders would be able to utilize him as a space eating defensive tackle that could tie up at least two offensive lineman, much like Ted Washington did during his stay. Rubin would be an awesome value pick in the fourth round.

Marcus Harrison

Another value defensive tackle out of Arkansas, Harrison ran a 5.00 40, which is very impressive. However, he did struggle with injury problems during his senior year and that could factor into where he will be drafted. He is capable of getting into the backfield and will look to help the Raiders with their run defense.

Offensive Tackle

Jeremy Zuttah

Zuttah would be a great pick here in the fourth round, since he has above average speed and athleticism for an offensive tackle. He would be great in the Raiders’ zone-blocking scheme and could possibly take over the left tackle spot in a few years. He ran a sub 5.00 40 which is amazing for a player of his size. Also, Zuttah is amongst the strongest offensive lineman at the combine with 35 bench presses

Oniel Cousins

Cousins has the ability to play in the zone-blocking scheme, and he has the versatility to play all the offensive line positions. He is not quite as strong as other top offensive lineman, but he makes up for it with his athleticism.





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





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!