Raiders End 1st Week of FA with BIG signing

The Raiders capped off the first week of Free Agency by adding some weight named Donald Penn to an Offensive line in need of some help at the left tackle position.

Donald Penn is a former undrafted free agent whom has spent the last few seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Penn chose the Oakland Raiders over the Redskins because he wanted an opportunity to play at left Tackle. Penn has started at left tackle the past few seasons for the Tampa Buccaneers. He has struggled with his weight but he was a pro-bowl alternate a few years ago.

PFF focus has a higher rating on Penn then Veldheer but Penn is aged 31. The move is a low risk one for the Raiders as it is a 2 year deal with less then 3 million a season guaranteed.

Football wise, Penn is a monster. He has a chance to compete with Manelik Watson for the starting position at Left Tackle. With Watson’s history of injury, I am glad to hear the Raiders have a back plan in case Watson gets injured or is unready to be a fulltime starter.

The past couple of seasons the Raiders have wanted establish an imposing bully on the Offensive line. Boothe, Howard, and now Penn are all quality veterans with a lot of experience and even more LBS. The Raiders should finally have the bully to open holes for McFadden, so he can get down hill and take runs the distance.

Best part of Penn’s deal is there are no big cap implications if he is cut after the season. Otherwise, Penn has a chip on his shoulder and something to prove after being cut by the Buccaneers. The Raiders should be able to get Penn’s best football in the twilight of his career.

Donald Penn celebrates after catching touchdown pass in 2012, and adds versatility to Raiders line via google images

Don’t Sleep on Antonio Smith or Tarrell Brown

Image

Raiders General Manager Reggie McKenzie capped off the First week of Free Agency by signing two under the radar Free Agents Tarrell Brown and Antonio Smith. Although neither have the name recognition of Justin Tuck or LaMarr Woodley both could have just a big of an impact on the Raiders Defense.

Brown Comes from just across the Bay as a former 49er. Last season he did not have his best effort as he did not record an interception in 10 starts. However the two seasons before he started every game and recorded a combined 6 interceptions. Playing with the 49ers, Brown has the playoff experience which Raiders young secondary members such as DJ Hayden can learn from. 

Brown may not be a pro-bowler but he has a lot of value as a starter or coveraging the slot. He is an above average tackler and his one of Pro Football Focus’ highly graded corner. He should be able to play the man or zone coverages required of Tarver’s scheme. Best part about this deal is the deal is only one year and worth $3.5 million, meaning their is no long term commitment for either side. 

As for Smith, the former Texan and self-proclaimed ninja brings the defensive line some more versatility. With the Texans he was primarily used as a defensive end lined up in the 5 technique. With the Raiders he will probably be utilized in those sets on some of the versatile schemes utilized by the Raiders. The Pass Rusher will also line-up as a pass rusher in the 3-technique.

Sure Smith is approaching 33 years of age, but he played well for the Texans recording 5 of his 41 career sacks. He is also stout against the run and could be critical in helping Stacey McGee develop along the Raiders Defensive Line rotation. Smith will be a critical element of keeping the defensive line fresh and also being able to mix up fronts and stunts for oppossing offensive lines.

Overall, neither of these guys have much household recognition. Fortunately they continue McKenzie’s trend of adding high leadership and work-ethic players to aid the development of our struggling organization. It is not going to happen overnight so having veterans capable of playing well young players develop is critical. Brown and Smith can both play at a high level and will be critical elements of the defensive rotation regardless of who else is brought in via free agency or draft. The best part about both of these signings is they are relatively cheap and offer low risk to the franchise.

Image

The Raiders Need Sammy Watkins

With a team desolated of playmakers and desperate for an identity, the Raiders have an oppurtunity to select Clemson Wide Out Sammy Watkins whom could change all of that presuming he is available with the #5 draft pick.

I have been an advocate for the Raiders selecting Watkins, however, earlier I broke down the deep recieving corps in this draft class. Any number of those guys could provide value to the Raiders, which would warrant a pass on Watkins and opting for a reciever in later rounds.

Since Watkins’ pro-day a few days ago, my stance has changed. The Raiders need Watkins to provide his explosive playmaking ability which could be the identity for the team. In his pro-day Watkins proved he was the best reciever in the class once again. Some even said it was one of the best pro-day workouts ever.

NFL Network Draft Guru Mike Mayock said Watkins is one of the best recievers he has analyzed in over 10 years. That is a great compliment. He very well may end up as one of the best players in this entire draft class.

As Raider fans, we still blame the organization for passing on Larry Fitzgerald and Calvin Johnson when there was an oppurtunity to draft either in their respective drafts.

Watkins showcased his capabilities in the Orange Bowl, where he put up 16 catches, with two TDs and over 200 yards against Ohio State. At Clemson he showcased his ability to line-up inside or outside. His speed was often showcased in the open field and his agility and accelartion displayed with a diverse route tree. Not only that, but has even showed a willing ness to block combined with a swagger the Raiders are looking for.

At the Combine, Watkins told NFL teams in interviews that he loves to dominate defenses. Denarius Moore could really learn from that midset. Leading up to the combine, Watkins hyped fans up by saying he would run a record setting time. His 4.43 official team underwhelmed but his game tape indicates plenty of speed for seperation at the next level. Watkin’s swagger and confidence are something the Raiders have been void of for years.

He elected to sit on his 40 time at the pro-day. Instead, Watkins made an impression with his route running, soft hands, and accelartion just like he did on tape and at the combine.

From a purely football perspective, Watkins can impact games after the catch or going deep. He can run screens, end arounds, and has plenty of value as a returner. Offensive Coordinator Greg Olsen could utilize Watkins and build the team’s offense around Watkins. For the first time in a long time, The Raiders could have an offensive identity with Watkins ability to change games(The Way Mcfadden was suppossed). He can line up in the slot and free up space for Moore or Rivera. He is fast enough to stretch the field for Streater and Holmes. Watkin’s hands are reliable enough for whoever trots out at QB for the Raiders. Neither is he afraid to open up wholes for a Raider running back.

The biggest knock on Watkins is he does not do anything spectacular. listed under 6’2 he does not very impressive size, nor is his 40 time spectacular, but his ability to impact games is surely spectacular. He is not the Big Fitzgerald, Megatron, or Julio jones. However, he is not the liability that Darius Heyward-Bey was either.

Watkins had the consistence in college that DHB did not out of Maryland, and Watkins played with another NFL quality reciver (Imagine if he didn’t?). DHB was suppossed to be the number one reciever for years to come, but has shown he is only a #3 reciever on his best day. Therefore, fans and management should not be weary of selecting a reciever high in the draft even if their is enough depth in the draft. The Raiders have yet to recover from Tim Brown days of having a true number one reciver. Selecting Watkins will allow Moore and Streater to thrive in the complimentary roles they are suited for.

The Raiders can not afford to let history repeat itself. Selecting Watkins makes too much sense for the Raiders. Watkins is one of the best prospects in the entire draft, he fills a team need, has a high ceiling, has swagger, and can impact games. This draft is too important for the Raiders to miss on, and Watkins has been labeled the can not miss player in the draft.

Defensive Players like Clowney and Mack come around once in a while too. But with Watkins you are talking about a guy who can legitimately score anytime he touches the ball, anywhere on the field. That is a value you don’t pass on as their will be other defensive prospects in FA and in later rounds.

He is the impact player Reggie Mckenzie and Dennis Allen are looking for, and the identity Mark Davis is looking for. It is becoming more evident the Raiders are not going to find that guy in Free agency. All the team needs to do is make the selection at #5 and let this guy dominate on sundays.

If he can make Tahj Boyd shine in college, surely he can do the same for any of the Raiders QBs. The Raiders do not need to draft a quarterback at the top of the draft, as they will have to wait for him to develop. Watkins is pro-ready and is the Nasty, Fast, and explosive player whom could be the face of the franchise for years to come. As an organization desperate to give their city and fanbase some hope of winning, Sammy Watkins has to be the pick when the may 2nd draft roles around.

Why the Combine still Matters

20140221-160730.jpg

What is all the hype with the combine? Who cares what time someone ran, or how many bench presses someone has. Why hype up the combine?
As fans, we want to see players flying around making plays and touchdowns. We do not care if they can run around bags or throw on air.

Even In High School, I can remember the players that excelled in tee shirts and shorts. The guys who would have people buzzing about their athleticism due to plays made without pads. Once the pads came on, they were a completely different football player despite their athleticism. The people with 100 spare ratings were the same ones tapping out once they got hit in pads.

The combine is the same principle. Every draft there is a player who wows scouts and has a team reach for him based on the athleticism. Said player may not have success on the field just because they ran or jumped well at the combine (ask any Raider fan). Then teams are left with a draft bust and angry fan base.

Why bother with the combine at all, if the tests do not mean success in the NFL?

No these drills are not the end all be all determinate of a prospects potential career in the NFL. Prospects prepare for months at high end facilities geared towards the type of combine testing that goes on in Indianapolis. That is part of the reason why prospects fair so well.

So why bother? Prospects have already put together hours of game tape that show what they can do on the field. Why not focus for bettering the infield product rather than combine numbers.

The answer is simple. The combine itself is an overwhelming experience for the players. They are put into a four day gauntlet of position drills, measurable tests, academic tests, interviews, and medical exams.

As an employer, NFL teams want to see how their potential investments fair in a high stress environment

Pro-days already offer the same combine drills, testing, exams, and interviews that the combine offers. The difference is The combine makes players step out of their comfort zone. Prospects are not dressing in their locker rooms, working with their coaches, or playing with their teammates. You want to see how a prospect reacts to leaving their comfortable college stage and entering the media spectacle that is the NFL combine

From a competition standpoint, it does not get better than the The NFL Combine

How often do you get. 300 of the best football players in one arena? Almost never. I remember being in my own High School combines, I wanted to see how I faired against the best around. I wanted to see if the best were as advertised.

The same should be said about the NFL. Teams want the player who wants to be the best. To be the best, you have to showcase that within your peers. Combine is the chance for NFL prospects like Clowney and Watkins to show why they are the consensus best players of their position. I give more power to them for wanting to showcase their abilities in pos. drills and athletic tests. Just being around that many good players with NFL eyes on you can be nerve-racking, but It is preparation for the type of competition in the Dog eat Dog NFL.

The game is still based around athleticism.
Every team is always looking for the next best thing. They want the big receiver, the running QB, the tweener safety, the big corner, and the lighting explosive pass rusher. The combine is for teams to see every players athleticism on display. Some say these drills are outdated having been the same since the first combine. Well players have been rehearsing these drills for years, there is a reason for that. These drills and tests have stayed around because they are the best judgement of a players athleticism translated to the game of football.

The Interview process is the most underrated part of the Combine.

The combine in itself is a large job interview. While scouts have familiarized themselves with players all year, The combine is an opportunity for Players to get acquainted with Teams coaching staffs. This is a really underrated part of the process because a prospect needs to be put into a position to succeed.

Like any other job, a player has to fit the organizational culture. Coaches have to be able to see themselves coaching said prospect, and they have to feel said player will fit in their locker room. Otherwise it is hard for a prospect to develop, with no mutual feelings of comfort between the player and organization. Not to mention today’s heavily media driven society means fans and media are more connected to players than ever. Teams are investing a lot of stake into these draft players and interviews are key to making sure a prospect is mature enough to handle the jump from amateur to professional.

The combine is the bridge between being a collegiate athlete and becoming a professional Football player.

It is not just a test of athleticism, personality, health, or football IQ. The NFL Scouting Combine is a small test to see if a player has what it takes to survive the multiple aspects of being an NFL football player. NFL teams want to see if prospects can handle the distractions and put an impressive product on the field.

In closing, The NFL Combine is not going anywhere. There is no magical way to predict how a player will transition to life as an NFL player. No matter how many tests there are, outliers will always disprove the system with successes and failures. Being successful in the NFL is a daily feat and no test can accurately access how a player will translate in the professional field. Either way, The Combine and the spectacle it has become, serves as the start to the spectacle that is NFL life, where eyes are watching you no matter.

Prospects Raiders should key on in combine.

20140220-182443.jpg

Sammy Watkins Clemson

Watkins has broken away as the consensus #1 receiver in the draft. After torching Ohio St. In the Orange Bowl he has propelled himself as a top 10 prospect in the whole draft. If the Raiders are not in love with QBS or Pass Rushers at #5 then they will probably trade down. But if Watkins is available at 5, the Raiders may warrant a Watkins selection as the best player available in the draft. Receiver may not be their biggest need but Watkins versatility to play outside or in the slot can benefit the other Raiders’ receivers and any QBS under center for Oakland. Not to mention Oakland’s Offense desperately needs some home run threats.

What Watkins does in the scouting combine will determine if Watkins is better than the rest of the WR field in this draft. Oakland could fall in love with him at the top of the draft or they may elect to wait on Watkins and address the WR position via later rounds or free agency. This is a very deep receiving class and a poor performance in Indianapolis May justify the Raiders waiting til the 2nd.

Derek Carr QB Fresno

After a great week in Mobile for Derek Carr, he reaffirmed himself as the best senior QB prospect in this draft. His pocket presence and rocket arm have scouts and teams buying into a top 10 draft prospect.

However limited competition at Fresno and other small issues have teams unsure where he falls amongst the QBS at the top of draft boards(Bridgewater, Bortes, Manziel). Indianapolis will give teams a chance to see if he is in the top tier of QBS or if he is the top prospect amongst the other QBS.

How Carr fares in the combine could easily be the difference between being drafted in the top 15 or falling somewhere in the 2nd rd. Either way the Raiders will continue keeping an eye on Carr to determine his draft status

Blake Bortes

Bortes announced that he planned to do everything at the Combine. This shows exactly what kind of competitor Bortes is. The top quarterback position is completely up for grabs in this draft. Bortes’ performance in this combine could be the difference in him being selected top 5 or early second round. Scouts are all over the place on Bortes Value. The combine is another place for the teams to familiarize themselves with the mid-major school prospect. The Raiders will have their eyes on him because he is the biggest boom or bust quarterback in the pool

Offensive Guards

Whoever the Raiders elect as their starting QB is going to need more blocking upfront. I believe Lg Nix was rated one of the worse starters by profoootball focus. Guard is a position not usually utilized in the first round, but there are plenty of interior linemen jumbled up in the top of the second round in mock drafts. Indianapolis will be a venue for many of these guys to separate themselves.

The Raiders should address the roster need at the top of the 2nd or 3rd rd depending which guy they like. Names on the list: Stanford David Yankey, Miss st. Gabe Jackson, Baylor Cyril Richardson, and UCLA Xavier Sua’-Filo. Any of those could help the Raiders in the second round, so Indianapolis will help them establish a preference.

Outside of that Clemson’s Brandon Thomas and Notre Dame’s Chris Watt are some low risk high reward picks. Either would provide versatility to the Raiders OL. A great performance at the combine could propel either into the first group of Offensive Guards.

Defensive Tackles

Defensive Tackle is one of the least deep positions in this draft. However the Raiders need more youth in the middle of the defense. The combine is an opportunity for the Raiders to develop a preference between the mid round tackles.

Pitt’s Aaron Donald is the consensus most NFL ready, prospect and the Raiders will have to consider him. The combine will determine if Donald is much better than the field. He has the game tape, so his measurables will incredibly important, as he is considered undersized.

Minnesota’s RaShede Hagemon. Hagemon looks the part and probably has the most ceiling, but he will answer questions about his work ethic at the Combine. He may not be available for the Raiders, but they should do their homework just in case he is

ASU’s Will Sutton is another name to keep an eye on. A year ago he was one of the top prospects in the whole draft but weight and production problems have reduced his draft stock as low as the third round. If Sutton can get below 300lbs. he can be an explosive mid round steal. Raiders should key in on his footwork and individual drills.

Stephon Tuitt, of Notre Dame, also suffered a major stock fall. Raiders will have an oppurtunity to decide if Tuitt is closer to the senior or junior version. Either way, he could be tremendous value if he stumbles into the third round.

Florida’s Dom Easley is coming off of his second rehabilitation of two non related ACLU injuries. He will have to capture people’s attention in the interviews and remind Teams exactly how dominate he was. Raiders should key on his Medical screens.

Bargain Bin Free Agents

20140207-155116.jpg

FA DE Justin Tuck

Anyone who thinks the Raiders are going to break the bank for any big time free agents is living in a fantasy world. GM Reggie McKenzie has a background in a Packers organization that doesn’t over pay for free agents. McKenzie himself has stressed building through the draft, which will be his primary means of building this team.

I don’t expect the Raiders to go out and spend all of their money in one place. They finally got out of salary cap hell, and I don’t think McKenzie wants to put his franchise in jeopardy of a similar fate. I think The GM will repeat his trend of signing low-risk, high-reward veteran free agents. Here are some less popular names the Raiders could net on a bargain rate.

Defensive line 

One of the Raiders biggest glaring need is on the defensive line. In a pass happy league, pass rushers are at a premium and this free agent class has quite a few.

Henry Melton, DT, Bears

After receiving the franchise tag last off season, Henry Melton suffered an injury in week 3. As a consequence, the Bears finished 30th against the run. Melton could easily come in and be the pass rushing 3 technique the Raiders have been wanting. The fact that he is coming off a major injury could mean a discount.

Justin Tuck, De, Giants

Justin Tuck has reportedly said he will not give the New York Giants a hometown discount. Tuck’s days in big blue could be over for the same reason Umenyera’s were last off season. Tuck has had his fair share of injury concerns over the past 3 seasons. However, in 2013 he finished the year with 11 sacks in a rebound season. Tuck possesses the type of versatility Jason Tarver would love to have. He may have to sign a 1 year ‘prove it’ contract, and the Raiders have the cap and playing time to attract Tuck. At 31 years old, the Raiders may even be able to give this savvy veteran his last big pay day if they can come to terms on a decent long term deal. Either way adding Tuck’s championship experience is priceless.

Kevin Williams, DT, Vikings

At 33 years old Kevin Williams may no longer be the dominating run stopper and pass rusher he once was. Raiders fans may want his Viking teammate Jared Allen, but Williams may be the more realistic option. The Raiders may lose Pat Simms and/or Vance Walker, both of whom boosted the Raiders run defense, so Williams would be a better replacement. He is quick enough to be a 1 technique in a 4-3 or a nose in a 3-4. The Raiders should offer Williams his last multi year deal, which should be less than the 5 million dollar salary he played at last season.

Anthony Spencer, De, Cowboys

Like Melton, Spencer received the Franchise tag only to have a season ending injury early in the season. Spencer’s best season came in 2012 when he had his only season with double digit sacks. Big D, and many other teams may be hesitant to give him big money with a big injury and limited production. I think the Raiders would do well to add Spencer’s pass rush ability to  their defense on a one year deal. Tarver’s scheme could help Spencer showcase his talents as a stand up linebacker or hand down defensive linemen.

Other names: Antonio Smith, Tyson Jackson, Robert Ayers, Alex Carrington, Corey Peters, Justin Babineaux, Clinton McDonald, Randy Starks, Paul Solali
Secondary

The Raiders secondary could only take steps forward after a horrible 2012. Last years additions of Charles Woodson, Mike Jenkins, and Tracey Porter added much needed veteran savy to the secondary, however those guys are free agents again and the team could use an upgrade. Any of those 3 guys could return at a bargain rate but the Raiders should have their eyes on other names.

Walter Thurmond III, CB, Seahawks

Thurmond was the 4th best CB for the NFL champion Seahawks, but he could be a starter elsewhere. At only 26, he could be a lo key addition and physical corner prized by the Raiders defense. Personally I do not prize him as an ideal starter next to DJ Hayden but Thurmond could be a low cost substitution should the Raiders miss on the marquee free agents at the position…Aquib Talib, Brent Grimes, Vontae Davis, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie

Charles Tillman, CB, Bears

Tillman is coming off one of his worst seasons because of injury and lack of production. However, he was one of the best corners not too long ago. His price will be right and physicality could boost the secondary. Tillman is in his 30s but he could be a good mentor for Hayden.

Malcolm Jenkins, FS, Saints

Jenkins time for New Orleans is all but up, because the team will scramble to free up cap for a big Jimmy Graham contract. Regardless if Woodson is back with the team, the Raiders need to address the FS position. Jenkins brings the kind of Versatility Tarver values in DBS. He is also 29 years old, has a Super Bowl ring with Dennis Allen and could be a discounted addition for the secondary in nickel and passing situations.

Antoine Bethea, SS, Colts

Another player with Super Bowl experience never hurts a team trying to make a playoff push. He may not be a great addition in coverage, but his is smart and boasted another 100+ tackle season. Some may prefer Donta Whitner, but I think Bethea is better in coverage. Either would be a much more affordable target than Julius Byrd.

Other names: Sam shields, Tarell Brown, Bernard Pollard, Nate Allen, Ryan Clark, Donte Whitner, ,

20140207-155222.jpg FA safety Malcolm Jenkins

Raiders should have eyes on Reciever in 14′ Draft

Watching the AFC Playoffs, and watching 3 division rivals play for a Superbowl is rough. As I watch the Broncos, Chargers, and Chiefs I realize how undermatched the Raiders really were. The Raiders offense lacked the playmakers to compete against those teams. The Chargers have Antonio Gates and Eddie Royal, The Broncos have Demarius Thomas, Wes Walker, and Knowshown Moreno, and The Chiefs have Jamaal Charles and Dwayne Bowe.
For the Raiders, recievers Denarius Moore and Rod Streater flashed potential, but they still lack the ability to consistently dominate a game. The combination of Raiders Recievers were mediocre at best. Streater caught 900 yards, Moore caught 600 despite injuries, and Holmes caught 400 towards the end of the season.

Bottom Line: Regardless of who the Raiders have at Quarterback, The Raiders need an explosive gamechanger around him. The Raiders need to adress the receiver position sometime between rounds 1-3 of the draft. Young Tighte Ends Rivera and Kasa flashed potentional, but could also benefit from an outside threat who can be relied on for big 3rd down catches. Here is my anaylsis of this draft classes’ recievers. While Sammy Watkins seems to be the conseus #1 reciever, this is still a very deep draft class of pass catchers. If they miss out on Watkins the Raiders can still get quality later in the draft.

1. Sammy Watkins-Clemson

Sammy Watkins is only 6-1. He isn’t the massive target that AJ Green or Julio Jones were. Watkins can change the game. He has the versatility to play the outside or inside position. His effortless acceleration makes crisp routes, and big plays down the field. He can take the ball anytime he touches it rather it is a return, screen, or run play. Besides his advance route tree I think Watkins possess a lot of maturity unlike Moore. I think he is the most NFL polished reciever in this draft and who ever the Raiders have at QB will be better of this guy. Even the most pessimistic Raider fan can not argue him being drafted at 5, but ideally the Raiders would love to grab him and another draft pick via trading down in the first.

2. Mike Evans-Texas A &M

Mike Evans is a monster 6-5 posession style reciever. He has the size Reggie Mckenzie likes for his west coast offense. Evans has been compared to Vincent Jackson, but he is still raw. He makes big plays, but there are stretches when he is ineffective. Whoever drafts Evans will have to allow him develop his route running skills. Some Team will probably fall in love with Evans for the middle-late first round, so it is unlikely he will be a Raider. I think the Raiders could do better adding one of the more polished receiving targets

3. Marques Lee -USC

Marques Lee was probably one of the top receiving targets in last years draft. He won the Biletnikoff award as a junior, but followed it up with a disappointing senior year. Lee has a good combination of size and speed, and showcased that with 118 yds & 2 tds in his last game as a Trojan. His production and route running should translate to the next level. The Raiders could be very happy if he is on the board when they select in the 2nd round.

4. Allen Robinson

At 6’2, 211 lbs. Allen Robinson can grab balls out of the air. From Penn state, the reciever has a continuity with Matt McGloin. He had back to back 1,000 yds receiving, however, the knock on him is he doesn’t do anything spectacular and he has had some drops. The Raiders will have a tough decision between him and Lee in the 2nd, but Robinson will be considered.

5. Brandin Cooks- Oregon St.

128 receptions for 1,730 yards and 16 touchdowns are Cooks stats in 2013, as he was named the nations best reciever. He draws some comparisons to Tayvon Austin because he is undersized. At 5’11 186 Cooks is undersized, but he is also the biggest threat in the open field. If he falls to the 3rd round he could be an absolute steal. His speed and play-making ability could command attention from Streater, Holmes, and Moore. Cooks would add another dimension to the Raiders offense, so I could even accept the Raiders drafting him in the 2nd.

6. Davante Adams- Fresno State

I don’t care what anyone says, there is something about catching 24 touchdown passes in a season. Davante Adams did that in 2013. Yes he did it with an NFL QB and a Down-field system. However, Adams is an explosive down-field threat. His speed and size allow him to make plays on the ball. He could go anywhere between the late first and early third round. The Raiders need someone who has a nose for the end-zone. Adams is a local head and would be the down-field threat Raiders fans would love.

7. Kelvin Benjamin- Florida State

Benjamin is sure to have someone fall in love with him. He is a 6’5 reciever with enough speed to get down the field. He is coming off a national championship, which is a benefit of playing with a heisman winner. He could be as low as Mike Williams or as High as Vincent Jackson. Someone may reach for him in the 1st rd, but he should probably have enough upside to be worth a 2nd rd pick.

8. Jordan Matthews- Vanderbilt

He only played in the toughest college football conference, but Matthews might be a sleeper pick. At 6’3 he can make plays on the ball, and drops are uncommon for Matthews. He has a 2nd round grade according to CBSSPORTS.com and he could fall to the early 3rd for the Raiders.

9. Odell Beckham Jr. – LSU

Beckham won an award for having the most yards in all of football. He is raw, but his kick returning ability should have him climb up draft boards. At 5’11 205LBs he doesn’t have elite size, but his hands and route running ability are underrated. The Raiders desperately need a game-changer in the return game, and someone to stretch the field. Beckham could be that answer in the 3rd, as he averaged 19 yds a reception last season.

10. Jared Abbrederis – Wisconsin

Despite shaky quarterback play he had a 78 reception season in 2013.  At 6’1 he doesn’t have great size or jump off the tape, which will probably hurt his status compared to others in the draft. He does make plays and is one of the most underrated prospects according to SI.com. He can make plays and if the Raiders should take him in the 3rd or 4th rd.

Best of the Rest:

Paul Richardson- Colorado

Bruce Ellington- South Carolina

Donte Moncrief- Ole Miss

Mike Davis- Texas

Jarvis Landry- LSU

Martavis Bradley- Clemson

Cody Latimore- Indiana

The Result: I am old-school, I like my Raiders recievers fast and able to stretch the field. I can live with adding a dynamic play maker at #5 by drafting Watkins. However, if they select a defensive player with #5 then there are plenty of options in the 2nd round. Lee and Robinson are probably the best players available if they are available at the top of the second. I like Lee despite the track record of USC receivers, he has enough production and upside to be the raiders #1. Cooks or Adams could also be considered at the top of the second round because of their dynamic play-making ability. I like the dimensions either of those guys add as a compliment to the Raiders Receivers Corps. If the Raiders do decide to hold out until the 3rd round than Cooks or Adams should be the no brainer pick if either are available. Outside of that, Beckham could also be a great value selection in the 3rd round because of his special teams ability. Some of the other receivers are bound to fall and the Raiders have other needs, hence they may just wait until the 3rd round and select the best available. My Personal favorite is Adams. Adams is a local out of Fresno State, and you can not teach 24 tds. I don’t care what anyone says, the Raiders need someone who has a nose for the endzone. He might be raw, but I wouldn’t mind the Raiders selecting a defensive player #5 and getting Adams in the 2nd rd.

 

Images via Google Images

Not For Long Raiders….

To most the NFL stands for National Football League, but to many others it stands for Not For Long. My oh My, what a difference a few weeks makes in the NFL.

A few weeks ago the Raiders were a young team aspiring for the Playoffs.

There hopes were centered around an explosive, Athletic Quarterback named Terrelle Pryor, a pro-bowl RB named Darren Mcfadden, and a breakout WR named Denarious Moore.

Fast forward a few weeks and the Raiders Playoff hopes are microscopic enough to rival Jamarcus Russell’s comeback hopes.

Not only has QB Terrelle Pryor gotten hurt, but he was superseded and outplayed by an undrafted rookie named Matt McGloin.

McFadden has been hurt all season, and veteran Rashaad Jennings has many people wondering if McFadden’s days in Silver and Black are numbered.  Moore has been the same inconsistent and banged up player fans have become accustomed to, but Andre Holmes has stolen much of his spotlight.

As a Raider Fan, it is hard to not see such talented players not succeeding for the Raiders. As fans, every week we tell ourselves this is the week that McFadden, Reece, or Pryor will get it.

While there have been glimpses, this is a league based on results.  They haven’t gotten it done, and the team is suffering.

In Contrast, as an organization, the team is happy with the success of McGloin, Jennings, and Holmes.

This is an example of the ‘next man up’ culture of competition that Reggie Mckenzie has wanted to established.

In context, we can apply the old cliche. If you have two than you really don’t have one, and for the Raiders that is the case at WR, RB, and QB.  Therefore, the team may be competitive, it may be on the rise, but talent is still lacking. Maybe the team isn’t the last place team ESPN analyst’s initially

thought they were, but they aren’t the Playoff team fans hoped for either.

In a recent interview, Coach Dennis Allen talked about this team being different

than last year’s. Allen said he doesn’t expect this team to quit on the season

or lose commitment.  Part of that is probably because much of the team has one year remaining on their contracts, and everyone is playing for contract somewhere.

The truth is, Allen can not afford to have this team quit on him. Allen may have all the potential in the world, but this is a league of results. Just ask McFadden.  Owner Marc Davis wants progress andfailing to win a few of the remaining games will result in Allen leading the unemployment line.

If McKenzie wants a culture of accountability it starts at the Head Coach, runs through the Quarterback, Runningback, and Wide Receivers. I just worry, the Raiders might get derailed if they have to replace all four. Regardless, no ones job on this team is safe, and these last four games will determine the faces of the franchise team going forward.

Either way, The Raiders have 70 million in cap room next season. Brighter days are finally on the horizons of this team, but these last four games will determine who is apart of it.  If this Raiders team is really different than the last 10 other losing teams, they are certainly running out of time to show it.

Image

RIP Thomas Howard

I want to take this post to honor a former Raider, Thomas Howard.

Thomas Howard played Will, OLB for the Oakland Raiders and Bengals. He was drafted by the Oakland Raiders in the 2nd round out of UTEP. The linebacker showed great athleticism as a Raider, and was a fan favorite. I loved watching Thomas Howard and Kirk Morrison lead the linebacker corps of the Mediocre Raiders Defense. Even though the two lacked the physical toughness to stop the run plays both players flashed potential. I loved Thomas Howard on his interceptions because his speed always gave him a chance to take it to the house. I remember voting for him for the pro bowl 07 when he had 6 interceptions. I never really understood why he fell out of favor with the Raiders. I hoped that the Bengals would give him an opportunity but he continued to get hurt. The man was only 30 years old when he died in a high speed car accident yesterday. If you want to know more you can type his name in Google. Outside of that, here is a short photo tribute to the big #53 and his time with with the Raiders. He finished his 8 year career with almost 500 tackles and 90 games played. He was most recently cut by the Falcons.

ths t Philadelphia+Eagles+v+Oakland+Raiders+4PXU5N9R4Sal index images 628x471

This is a Giant Game

If I scroll down my bleacher report team stream far enough I can see stories from two weeks ago about how good the Raiders Defense was playing, and how they had hopes for the playoffs. Scroll up a bit and the Raiders collapse against the Eagles has taken the headlines.

At first glance the raiders big loss could be attributed to the Raiders overlooking a struggling Eagles team. Frankly, The Raiders just didn;t match up with the Eagles well.

At the beginning of the season many picked the Raiders to be the least talented team in the league. Well the Raiders are stacked with intelligence and work ethic, even I wouldn’t argue they are stacked with talent. The Eagles on the other hand are a struggling team with tons of speed and athleticism.

I think the Raiders were just over matched all over their field. On defense, players had their hands on their hips. They failed to get any real pressure on quarterback nick foles. The Defensive backs were stumbling all over the place. And the worn out defense failed to stop the run and limit big plays.

On offense a make shift offensive line could not provide Pryor any real time. The recievers and playmakers of the raiders failed to counterreact the high octane Offense of the Eagles. While they were able to get yards, there defense just couldn;t get any real help. But its a new week and the Raiders have no time to waste as they face another struggling athletic team.

I don;t think anyone would argue that Eli Manning and his two superbowl rings are more consistent than Nick Foles. Combine that with the big physical receivers of Hakeem nicks and Victor cruz and there are elements for a similar debacle if the Raiders don’t bring an A game. On the Defensive side the Raiders will also have to do a much better job at pressuring Eli, so that he can be forced into interceptions.

Offensively the Offensive line face Jason Tuck and Pierre Paul. They have the speed and explosiveness to pressure Pryor and keep hm contained. Pryor needs to recognize blitzes and get the ball out. He needs to not have happy feet trying to perserve the play. Manelik Watson will make his starting debut, and pryor should be able to trust is offensive line. Running lanes should be there if he chooses to scramble but that should only be after his first or second read. Lastly, someone is going to have to step up and make a play for pryor. 2010 Mcfadden is not going to be on the field, so the raiders will take playmaking ability from anyone. It is time for one of the Rookie tight ends to step up and make a play. Otherwise Reece or Moore seem the most capable of providing the offense a needed spark.

This game against the Giants will tell a lot about Dennis Allen and this Raider team. Allen has already been quoting as saying this team won’t collalpse like last season. Well this will be an indicator of progression or regression for this Raiders team. The Giants have won two games and  are playing every game to win like a scrappy boxer. If the Raiders don’t want to knock the hope out of their playoff pipedream than they need to have an A game against the giants.