Sunday, December 30, 2012

Prospect Profile: DT/NT Jesse Williams - Alabama

Alabama Profile:

Name:  Jesse Williams
Height:  6' - 4"
Weight:  320 lbs.
Class:  Senior
Hometown:  Brisbane, Australia
DOB:  November 2, 1990 (22 years old)
High School:  Cavendish Road (Queensland, Australia)

Season Summaries:

2012 Sr. Year:  36 total tackles (7 solo), 2.5 TFLs, 1.0 sacks, 2 PBUs, 2 PDs, 4 QBHs, 1 blocked kick.  2012 2nd Team All-SEC.  Williams has endured another season as a keystone in the middle of the Crimson Tide defense.  Excelling in his role at pushing the pocket, and demanding double teams.  Suffered a right knee injury during the SEC Championship game, but by all accounts will fight through any pain in the BCS National Championship vs. Notre Dame.

2011 Jr. Year:  24 total tackles (10 solo), 4.0 TFLs, 0.5 sacks, 1 PBU, 1 PD, 3 QBHs.  Played 5 technique DE and 4 man DT on passing downs.  Proceeded to stuff the run and push the pocket in his first year of major college football at Tuscaloosa.

2009-2010 Fr.-So Years:  Was ranked the No. 2 in the JUCO top 50 by his final year at Arizona Western College.  30 tackles in only 7 games with 6 TFLs and 2 sacks.  Defensive line yielded only 49 rushing yards per game.  Two time All-Region I selection and named to the All-Western States team at WACC.

Australia:  Began playing football at age 14.  Played for Cavendish Road State High School and then on to the Bayside Ravens and the Queensland Sun Devils.

2012 Sr. Year Highlights:

2011 Jr. Year Highlights:

Fr. - So. Year Highlights (Arizona Western CC):

Positives (+):
-  Well balanced game, very football aware and flows to the football quickly
-  Plays run and pass well
-  Strong upper body, can dominate with leverage (600 lb. bench press)
-  Very spirited and strong willed player, fights to the whistle
-  Comes from an athletic rugby/basketball background growing up in Australia
-  Snap anticipation and first step
-  Tackles well, good hip explosion
-  Still learning football, has room to grow as a player
-  Versatile defensive lineman who can play a solid nose or a 4-3 set

Negatives (-):
-  Needs to improve leg strength
-  Needs to continue to develop body, lose some fat, get leaner
-  Doesn't finish games as well as he starts them
-  Inconsistent leverage
-  Feet can drift, and can lose anchor vs. double teams on occasion

NFL Analysis:
Jesse Williams is a physically gifted individual who burst onto the scene in Tuscaloosa quickly having never played major football in either Australia or the United States.  His consistency and versatility as a defensive tackle is exactly what a lot of NFL teams are looking for.  While he isn't perfect by any stretch, he has some room to get better and possibly become a dominant force inside in a variety of defensive looks.  His early value will likely be as a nose tackle who can disrupt and take on double teams.

Outlook as a Raider:
After the loss to San Diego, the Raiders are all but assured the No. 3 Overall Pick in the 2013 NFL Draft.  A pick of Williams at No. 3 is not practical nor going to happen.  However, a trade down scenario would make Jesse Williams a possible pickup in Oakland.  The defensive tackle situation is in a state of turnover as Richard Seymour and Tommy Kelly are most likely gone in 2013.  Tarver and Allen have played more 4-3 than anything in 2012 due to their personnel restraints, and having a kid like Jesse Williams, supplemented by some more DE/LB help could mean more 3-4 looks.  Williams' versatility will make him an attractive option inside as the Raiders continue to rebuild their defensive front.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Prospect Profile: OL Barrett Jones - Alabama

Alabama Profile:

Name:  Barrett Jones
Height:  6' - 5"
Weight:  302 lbs.
Class:  RSr.
Hometown:  Germantown, TN
DOB:  May 25, 1990 (22 years old)
High School:  Evangelical Christian

Season Summaries:

2012 RSr. Year:  Moved to Center from Left Tackle his senior season to lead what is probably the best Offensive Line in college football.  Won the 2012 Rimington Trophy recognizing the Nation's top Center.  Was also awarded the Walter V. Campbell Trophy (aka the Student-Athlete "Heisman") as the Nation's Absolute Top Student-Athlete.  Was a finalist for the 2012 Outland Trophy but lost out to Texas A&M LT Luke Joeckel.  UNC OG Jonathan Cooper was also nominated.  Consensus 1st Team All American at Center (AP and Walter Camp), Coaches and Media 1st Team All SEC at Center.  Alabama will play for the 2012 BCS National Championship.

2011 RJr. Year:  Moved to Left Tackle after playing Right Guard for the Crimson Tide in his RFr. and RSo. seasons.  Won the 2011 Outland Trophy, recognizing the Nation's top interior lineman.  Semifinalist for the Lombardi Award which recognizes the Nation's top OL/DL that also best exemplifies the discipline of Vince Lombardi.  Unanimous 1st Team All American (AP, AFCA, Walter Camp...everybody), 1st Team All-SEC (AP and Coaches), also won the Jacobs Blocking Trophy recognizing the SEC's top Offensive Lineman.  Also won the Wuerffel Trophy and the ARA Sportsmanship Award.  Jones did ALL OF THIS despite only playing in 10 games at Left Tackle.  Sat out Mississippi State and Georgia Southern games with an ankle sprain vs. LSU, a game in which he managed to tough it out and finish the game at LT (LSU won 9-6).  Alabama ranked 15th in the country with 220 rushing yards per game, and 16th nationally in scoring offense per game at 36.0 points/gm.  Alabama was the BCS National Champion in 2011.

2010 RSo. Year:  Started 11 games at Right Guard.  1st Team All-SEC (AP).  Outland Trophy watch list, helped Alabama to 444 yards/gm of offense, 183 rushing yards/gm and 261 passing yards/gm...all stats were Top 30 Nationally at the FBS level.  

2009 RFr. Year:  Started all 14 games at Right Guard.  Was part of an OL unit that was 42nd in the country at 403 yards of offense per game, 215 of those yards were on the ground, good for 12th in the country.  Alabama won the 2009 BCS National Championship.

2012 RSr. Year Highlights (#75 at Center):

2011 RJr. Year Highlights (#75 at Left Tackle):

2010 RSo. Year Highlights (#75 at RG):

2009 RFr. Year Highlights (#75 at RG):

Positives (+):
-  Extremely athletic and mobile as an Offensive Lineman
-  Versatile, has played extensively at RG, LT and C, very rare for a SEC OL player
-  Very good technician, works hard for position
-  Elite hand placement and consistently keeps shoulder square
-  Will do what it takes to complete a block, doesn't care about looking pretty
-  Strong run blocker
-  Elite on the second level, works upfield to help solid gains break into explosive plays
-  Fires off well on first step, wins at the point of attack early most plays
-  Intangibles, has won numerous Academic/Community awards

Negatives (-):
-  Could use a little more bulk in his legs to solidify his ability to anchor
-  Can get speed rushed on occasion (at Tackle)
-  Footwork can occasionally get a little sloppy

NFL Analysis:
Jones is a four year starter at one of the top OL schools in the country.  He has shown tremendous versatility having played 3 different positions on an OL that consistently ranks in the top tier of all offensive categories.  Not only has Jones improved as a player in Tuscaloosa over his career, but he has continued to excel in the classroom and in the community, both in the South and abroad.  He'll likely advance into the NFL as a C, OG or possibly a RT in a Zone Blocking Scheme.  His athleticism and smarts are going to make him a mainstay for most any team that drafts him.

Outlook as a Raider:
With Oakland sitting in the Top 5, likely No. 3 Overall, a selection of Jones would all but be a waste of value.  However, should Oakland trade back into say the 15-32 range, then you could see the Raiders looking to improve their starting quality of the interior of their OL.  LG Cooper Carlisle is likely set to retire after the 2012 season.  While C Stefen Wisniewski has looked solid at C, he could me moved back out to LG.  The versatility of Jones will make him a very attractive pick for Oakland who is seeking youth, depth and versatility from LG to RT.  Jones could be a dark horse pick to play RT in Oakland, and the Raiders have a huge hole to fill there with the under-performing Khalif Barnes and Willie Smith looking like they need to be replaced.  Reggie McKenzie will likely look for an impact defensive playmaker in the 1st Round if that Top 5 pick is indeed used, however should the "trade down" scenario unfold...and given certain DE/OLBs are already taken, look for a possible pickup of Jones in the mid/late 1st Round for Oakland.  The intangibles and versatility of Jones would be a very much needed upgrade on their OL as they've struggled to consistently move the ball on the ground and in the red zone.  It is also noteworthy that Reggie and Jones are both natives of Tennessee (Jones the Memphis area, Reggie over in Knoxville).

Pre-Carolina Week: Raiders Report and the Silver and Black Show

For what it's worth, these were aired before Oakland travelled to Charlotte.  Another dreadful showing by the offense as the Raiders waste a solid defensive effort...falling to the Panthers 17-6.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Raiders 2013 Round 1 Draft Pick

No matter what the outcome in San Diego next week, Oakland will be picking no later than 5th Overall.  There are also scenarios where Oakland could end up picking 3rd or 4th.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Prospect Profile: OLB Jarvis Jones - Georgia

Name:  Jarvis Jones
Height:  6' - 3"
Weight:  241 lbs.
Class:  Junior
Hometown:  Columbus, GA
DOB:  10/13/1989 (23 yrs. old)
High School:  Carver

2012 Junior Year:  2012 SEC Defensive Player of the Year, AFCA First Team All-American AFCA, AP, Walter Camp....Unanimous First Team All-SEC....77 tackles, 22.5 tackles for loss, 12.5 sacks, 7 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries and 1 interception in 11 games.  

2011 Sophomore Year:  First Team All-American by AP, AFCA, FWAA, Walter Camp, ESPN, SI and Second Team All-American by Yahoo Sports and First Team All-SEC....70 tackles, 19.5 tackles for loss, 13.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles in 14 games.

2010 Transfer Year:  After not getting cleared by Southern California's medical staff, Jones asked for and was granted his release to transfer, choosing to go back to his home state and the University of Georgia.

2009 Freshman Year:  Played as a backup and saw significant time on special teams as a freshman at the University of Southern California.....played in 8 games before suffering a season ending neck injury against Oregon State.

2012 Junior Year Highlights:

2011 Sophomore Year Highlights:

- Quick off the edge and extremely disruptive
- Above average closing speed and acceleration
- Uncanny change of direction and body control; can get around the edge with excellent body bend
- Consistent motor, doesn't give up on a play or take plays off
- Good awareness and anticipation
- Quick at diagnosing and reacting to plays
- Finishes plays from the backside and great in pursuit
- Flows well through tight areas to the ball on run plays
- Plays well in space and can break down to make the tackle
- Fundamentally sound tackler
- Has a great strip/hack move when going in for tackles and sacks

- Less than ideal arm length could affect his impact as a consistent pass rusher in the NFL
- Has a condition called spinal stenosis that may affect his future as a pro
- Susceptible to being over-aggressive rushing upfield, leaving running lanes for RBs
- Can get pushed around by bigger OL 

NFL Player Comparison: LB Cameron Wake Miami Dolphins

Jarvis Jones is one of the most productive pass rush prospects in recent drafts.  Though not at the level of LB Von Miller, Jones is a better prospect than both Bruce Irvin and Melvin Ingram were in the 2012 draft.  Jones has the frame to put on an additional 10 lbs and become a stronger anchor on the edge without losing his explosion.  Though his listed height is 6' - 3", I suspect his real height to be about an inch shorter.  Jones possesses cat quick acceleration off the snap and can maintain his speed off the edge with great body bend.  Jones' ideal position would be as a 3-4 rush OLB, but has the skill set to be scheme versatile.  Projected anywhere from 3rd overall toward the end of the top 10, Jones is undoubtedly the most disruptive defensive player in the 2013 draft.  His stock may take a hit depending on his Combine physical due to his diagnosis of having spinal stenosis after his freshman year at USC ended prematurely with a neck injury.  If Jones can develop a power pass rush move to compliment his burst off the edge, he could make an instant impact in this pass happy NFL, where pass rushers are at a premium.

Outlook on the Raiders:
GM Reggie McKenzie and head coach Dennis Allen have to decide which way this defense is going to go in 2013.  I suspect though Allen's job may be safe, unfair or not, defensive coordinator Jason Tarver may not be so lucky.  After much success as one of the leagues top pass rush units under former defensive line coach Mike Waufle for the past few season, the Raiders are near the bottom of the league in that category in 2012.  Unlike previous high draft pick Rolando McClain, Jarvis Jones has shown to be a great competitor who plays with purpose and determination.  Jones has overcome personal obstacles off the field to becoming a consistent leader on a vaunted Georgia defense.  He would be an immediate starter and could be the pass rushing playmaker the Raiders have lacked since the likes of Derrick Burgess.

Friday, December 21, 2012

12/21/12 Presser and Behind the Shield

Relax Oakland, the World Isn't Going to End After This Season!
(no matter what this guy says...)

Props to RaiderCentral on YouTube for uploading all the current interviews!
You can follow them directly here:

Raider Nation Podcast: vs. KC Tailgate 2012

Thursday, December 20, 2012

12/19/12: DA and Palmer - @ Panthers Week

Prospect Profile: OLB Chase Thomas - Stanford

Stanford Profile:

Name:  Chase Thomas
Height:  6' - 4"
Weight:  248 lbs.
Class:  Redshirt Senior
Hometown:  Marietta, GA
Date of Birth:  June 10, 1989 (23 years old)
High School:  Walton High School

Stanford Statistics:

2012 (RSr.):  68 total tackles (43 solo), 14.0 TFLs, 7.5 sacks, 1 FF, 2 FR, 3 PDef, 1 INT
- Lott Trophy Award Finalist (Manii Te'o, Arthur Brown, Jarvis Jones, Chase Thomas)
- 1st Team All Pac 12

2011 (RJr.):  52 total tackles (33 solo), 17.5 TFLs, 8.5 sacks, 5 FF
- 1st Team Sporting News All-American
- 1st Team All Pac 12

2010 (RSo.):  70 total tackles (49 solo), 11.5 TFLs, 7.5 sacks, 1 FF, 2 FR, 3 PDef, 1 INT
- Honorable Mention All-Pac 10

2009 (RFr.):  36 total tackles (20 solo), 7.0 TFLs, 4.0 sacks, 2 FF
- 2nd Team Freshman All-American 

Redshirt Senior Year (2012) Highlights:

Redshirt Junior Year (2011) Highlights:

Redshirt Sophomore Year (2010) Highlights:

Positives (+):
+ Hand use, footwork and efficient movement to the QB
Long arms and disengages blocks well
Versatile in every sense of the word
Plethora of pass rush moves
Rushes from left or right side and with hand on the ground
Closes on the QB well
Fast first step
Thinks on his feet, very sharp kid
Hustle player, aggressive
Consistently displays good leverage
4 year player, durable and productive
Has been coached very well in Palo Alto

Negatives (-):
-  Sometimes gets caught in open field arm tackles
-  Needs to add some weight and strength for the NFL
-  Needs to improve his coverage skills
-  Can over pursue
-  Hasn't been asked to go sideline to sideline due to scheme
-  Struggles against assignment football (vs. Oregon)

2013 Raider and NFL Draft Outlook:
Thomas should be able to carve himself out a niche in his rookie season as a 3-4 rush OLB.  He has consistently raided the backfields of the Pac 12 for the past three seasons.  His aggressiveness and bulldog mentality should get him a starting job on coverage units immediately, especially with his relatively light frame.  Obviously, as a soon to be Stanford graduate, Thomas is no dummy.  Picking up a defensive playbook in NFL training camp, and dare one say, one in Oakland who is coached by "The Mad Scientist" Jason Tarver, former Stanford DC, should come relatively easy the first season, and also considering he'll likely be asked to destroy the QB 75% of the time, look for an immediate impact as he figures out how to dominate off the edge in the NFL.

Currently, Thomas' 2013 NFL Draft Stock is somewhere in the 2nd Round, but that could jump up to the 1st Round if all goes well during Draft Season.  Teams looking for another pass rushing threat in a pure 3-4 or hybrid 3-4 scheme will get good use out of Thomas as a sack artist early.  His experience, toughness and skill might be enough to get him into the late 1st Round.  Oakland will most likely consider drafting Thomas if they engineer a trade down, or set of trade downs into the late 1st or early 2nd Rounds.  His familiarity with Jason Tarver (who, along with Dennis Allen, may be looking to play more 3-4 in 2013), ability to rush the passer and plug and play status should immediately make him a priority target for Oakland should they be staring at a late 1st Round pick or a newly acquired 2nd Round pick.

Update (2/12/13):  Looks like the Chase Thomas stock has slipped into the pick No. 70-90 Overall consideration.  This is no doubt due to his niche role with the Cardinal,  Scouts worry about his coverage skills and his all around skill set.  When dealing with things directly ahead of him, in the immediate flats and getting after the QB, there's no doubt that Thomas has NFL potential, however.  Oakland still has an inside edge in that current Raider DC Jason Tarver knows Chase Thomas inside and out, and probably will have a solid plan in place to get the most out of Thomas as an impact player off the edge.  This new ranking, of course, puts Oakland in play for Thomas...the Raiders currently hold the No. 66 Overall pick at the top of the 3rd Round.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Prospect Profile: DE/OLB Damontre Moore - Texas A&M

Texas A&M Profile:


Name:  Damontre Moore
Height:  6' - 4"     
Weight:  250 lbs.
Class:  Junior 
Hometown:   Rowlett, Texas 
Date of Birth:  9/11/1992 (20 years old)
High School:  Rowlett

Texas A&M Statistics:   

2012 (Jr.):  80 total tackles (54 solo), 20 TFLs, 12.5 sacks, 2 PBU, 8 QBH, 1 FF, 2 Kicks/Punts

2011 (So.): 72 total tackles (41 solo), 17.5 TFLs, 8.5 sacks, 1 PBU, 2 QBH, 4 FF

2010 (Fr.): 40 total tackles (18 solo), 6.5 TFLs, 5.5 sacks, 1 PBU, 2 QBH, 3 FF, 1 INT
Junior Year (2012, 4-3 DE) Highlights:


Sophomore Year (2011, 3-4 OLB) Highlights:

Positives (+):
- Extremely quick first step
- Disciplined
- Intelligent
- Willing and able to do backside contain
- Versatile pass rush ability; able to use speed and power moves
- Incredible closing speed
- Can rush from a two, three and four point stance
- Strong and heavy hands allow him to shed blocks in the run game
- Good hand use
- Great ball awarenss
- Plays through the whistle
- Stays low out of his stance
- Unrelenting motor

Negatives (-):
- Not a physical freak like other DE/OLB options in the draft
- Stiffer hips that some might like
- Average top end speed
- Footwork and hand placement will need improvement
- Arrested for marijuana possession (less than 2 oz.) in June of 2011

NFL Draft Outlook:
Many draft sites have Damontre Moore currently projected as a borderline 1st/2nd rounder.  Moore has also not declared, though multiple people are reporting he is likely to head to the 2013 NFL Draft this Spring. Likely goes top 10, if not top 5, if he declares and interviews well and has a good showing at the Combine and other work outs.

Some people believe that Moore might be limited to a 4-3 DE in the NFL given his lack of top end speed and somewhat tight hips, but many think he will excel in any defensive scheme.  Given his versatility and ability to actually get to the QB effectively in both the 3-4 and 4-3 should show many people their fears are ill-founded.  NFL Coaches should limit the times he needs to drop into coverage and let Moore do what he does best: rush the passer.

When watching Moore play it's striking to see how fluid he looks and how easy it seems for him to rush the passer.  He reminds some NFL scouts of DeMarcus Ware (DAL) and Brian Orakpo (WAS) in size, style, mix of power and speed moves, motor and with that amazing first step of Moore being eerily reminiscent of Ware's. 

In regards to the Raiders specifically if they were to draft Moore with their first pick he could very easily step in and offer that type of game changing ability to rush the passer.  Regardless of the scheme Dennis Allen plans to run on defense next year.  Reggie Mckenzie has made it very clear he wants to build the defensive and offensive lines as well as finding a quality pass rusher - Moore could be the answer if he does declare for the draft.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Prospect Profile: DT Star Lotulelei - Utah

Name:  Starlite Lotulelei
Height:  6' - 2"
Weight:  325 lbs.
Roster Years:  2010-2012
Hometown:  South Jordan, Utah
Date of Birth:  12/20/1980 (22 years old)
Last School:  Snow College

2012 (Sr.): Despite facing double or triple-teams on virtually every play this season, Lotulelei finished with 42 tackles, including a team-high 11 tackles for loss and 5.0 sacks.  The senior also had 4 pass breakups, 4 fumble recoveries and 3 forced fumbles.  He leads the Pac-12 and is tied for second in the nation in fumble recoveries (4).  First team All Pac-12, Walter Camp and AP All-American.

2011 (Jr.):  First team all Pac-12. Won the Morris Trophy as the league's best defensive lineman...9.0 tackles for loss tied for 2nd on the team...44 tackles, 1.5 sacks, one pass breakup, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

2010 (So.): Played in all 13 games, earning the starting job for the final 3 games of the season...21 total tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and half a sack.

Prior to Utah: Played at Snow College, amassing 52 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, 3 sacks and 1 forced fumble.  Was a 1st Team All-State DT at Bingham High School in South Jordan, UT.

Senior Year (2012) Highlights:

Junior Year (2011) Highlights:

Conversation with Star Lotulelei:

+ Prototypical size and frame, ideal arm length and thick lower base
Powerful and disruptive at the point of attack
Displays heavy hands when engaging offensive linemen
Great anchor against double teams and rarely gets pushed back
Good balance and short area quickness
Surprising lateral agility
Stout run defender and plays gap assignments well
Plays to the whistle and will run to the ball
Mature (married), team leader and has great work ethic

- Sometimes loses sight of the ball when taking on blocks
Inconsistent disengagement from offensive linemen
Needs to work on his pass rushing moves and counters
Conditioning needs improvement
Some have questioned his motor 
Isn't consistently dominant

NFL Player Comparison:  Haloti Ngata - Baltimore Ravens

NFL Analysis:
Lotulelei's blend of freakish size, surprising athletic ability and quickness will make him a highly sought after commodity come the 2013 NFL Draft.  He is scheme friendly, can play NT in the 3-4, some 5 technique DE and play DT in the 4-3.  Though he's not as consistently dominant as some would like, he's a hard worker who has shown the willingness to improve in areas of his game.  The one glaring area of his game that needs improvement is increasing his pass rushing repertoire.  He's still somewhat raw and displays a huge upside.  Lotulelei has the potential to be a similar player to Ravens DT Haloti Ngata, but needs to put it all together and develop down-to-down consistency.

Outlook as a Raider:
The Raiders will need help inside at DT.  Richard Seymour and Tommy Kelly may not be on the roster in 2013 for cap reasons.  Though the Raiders have shown signs of improvement with their rush defense in 2012, the popular thought is that coach Dennis Allen will have the defense play more 3-4 in the upcoming season, and with no one on the roster capable of playing NT, Lotulelei would be an ideal fit.  If anything, his presence on the roster would give the defense the flexibility to be more scheme diverse.

Combine Analysis

During Lotulelei's medical exam at the combine, they found an abnormal heart condition which forced him to sit out from the weekend's activities.  His echocardiogram revealed that he had an abnormally low Ejection Fraction, that showed his left ventricle was pumping at 44% efficiency.  Normal levels are usually between 55-70 percent.  There's been some speculation that it may have been due to his dieting prior to the Combine.  Prior to this discovery, Lotulelei had no known physical ailments.  Most media outlets are stating that the condition shouldn't be an issue for him moving forward.  

Besides that, the biggest surprise was that Lotulelei measured in almost 2 inches shorter than his listed college height.  Lotulelei will have a chance to show what he can do on March 20.

DA Presser: 12/17/12

No, it's not November, thank the Gods.

Monday, December 17, 2012

McFadden, Bryant and Goodson: Post vs. Chiefs Game 12/16/12

MIke Brisiel: Post vs. Chiefs Game 12/16/12

Brisiel gets schooled on the history of the "War Pigeon".

Prospect Profile: OT Luke Joeckel - Texas A&M

Texas A&M Profile

Name:  Luke Joeckel
Height:  6' - 6"     
Weight:  310 lbs.
Class:  Junior
Roster Years:  2010 - 2012
Hometown:  Arlington, Texas   
Date of Birth:  November 6th, 1991 (21 years old)
Last School:  Arlington High School (Arlington, TX)

Texas A&M Statistics:  
2012 (J.):  1st Team All-SEC (Media) Honors.  Earned Outland Trophy as the nation's best interior lineman beating out Alabama C Barrett Jones and North Carolina OG Jonathan Cooper.  Earned Jacobs Blocking Trophy which is given annually to the top blocker in the SEC.  The Aggies generated 400+ yards in total offense a school record 11 straight games, including six-600 yards efforts.  All of this while Texas A&M competed in the SEC for their first season.  Helped protect and lead Freshman QB Johnny Manziel to a Heisman Trophy as well.  Nationally, the Aggies ranked No. 3 in total offense with 552 yards/gm and No. 4 in scoring/gm at 44.8 points/gm.  Showed incredible endurance as A&M averaged nearly 80 offensive plays per game.

2011 (So.):  1st Team All-Big 12 AP Honors.  Part of an Aggie OL that allowed only 9 sacks all season.  Also helped Aggie Offense to set school records for total passing yards and scoring in 13 games.  Offense averaged 490 yards/gm in total offense, including 291 passing yards and 39.1 points/gm.  Aggies rushed for 199.2 yards/gm.  Aggie offense ranked in top 25 in all four major stat categories.

2010 (Fr.):  Honorable Mention All-Big 12 and named to ESPN's All-Big 12 Freshman Team.  Started all 13 games at Left Tackle.  Offense rushed for 165.8 yards/gm and featured a 100-yd rusher in 9 of those games.

Junior Year (2012) Highlights:

Sophomore Year (2011) Highlights:

Positives (+):
+ Size and athleticism
Ability to maintain engagement on blocks
Active feet
Effort and motor
2nd level blocking and ability to block out on the corners
Strong in pass pro at the point of attack, especially vs. the bullrush
Pass pro demonstrates proper balance and footwork
Moves very well laterally
Game smarts, recognizes blitzes/stunts quickly and is fluid in switch protection
Has the skill set to transition to the NFL as a strong Zone Blocking Scheme tackle

Negatives (-):
- Can play with a slightly high pad level
Kickstep in pass pro can get lazy and sluggish
Occasionally susceptible to speed rushers to the outside in pass pro
Vulnerable to Wide 9 technique pass rushers
Needs to improve his depth of pass pro drop on speed rushers out on the wing
Hands aren't the heaviest, defenders often swat away his initial punch
Lacks ideal size (weight) and explosion to be a feature tackle in a Power Blocking Scheme

General Predictions: In a proper Zone Blocking Scheme and some time, Joeckel could excel as a left tackle at the NFL level.  He is still a very young 21 years old and continues to grow into his frame.  Perhaps, with his athleticism and ability he could gain strength and power to become a standout player at RT in all NFL schemes, but the general consensus is that he'll be pro ready to play tackle at the NFL level in an active ZBS.

NFL Draft Outlook:
Luke Joeckel is the consensus No. 1 Offensive Line prospect in the 2012 Draft (should he officially declare).  While a lock as a Top 10 pick, he could go No. 1 Overall to a number of teams looking for a bookend Left Tackle for the next decade.

Atop the 2012 Draft Order at the moment, you'll find the following:

1) Kansas City Chiefs
2) Jacksonville Jaguars
3) Oakland Raiders
4) Philadelphia Eagles
5) Tennessee Titans
6) Detroit Lions
7) San Diego Chargers
8) Cleveland Browns
9) Buffalo Bills
10) Carolina Panthers

Of these teams I think the Eagles or the Chargers may be looking to secure the services of a top pass protector for this draft.  Could that mean trading up?  We'll see.  It is also possible, as badly as the Chiefs need to Draft and groom a QB for their future, they may be thinking that taking Joeckel could be their best bet with that pick.  That would put KC in the driver's seat in getting a trade down to give up Joeckel's services in favor of their QB a little later in the Top 10, or selecting another Best Player Available of their liking.  As for Oakland picking Joeckel at No. 3 outright, it's a possibility.  However, in a division with Peyton Manning...and in a Conference with Roethlisberger, Brady, Schaub and now Andrew Luck...they're going to need somebody to either a) Cover or b) Rush the Passer.  While Joeckel could help secure the bookends in Oakland for the forseeable future, they might be looking for defensive help.  This doesn't mean, however, that the Raiders can't threaten to pick him should Joeckel fall to No. 3 Overall.  Should KC and JAX pass on Joeckel, it would make for a more attractive trade scenario with those teams looking for an OT at the Top of the Draft.  It'll be a bit less expensive.

The influence of having Head Coach Dennis Allen, a former Texas A&M Aggie, and Terrell Williams, current Defensive Line coach, and also a former Texas A&M Coach, might play something into the decision.  A&M players are typically known for their unselfishness, their ability to work hard and be good teammates, and their intelligence.  These traits do indeed sing to the wants and needs of new General Manager Reggie McKenzie, and his quest to build a deep, tough, smart, physical ball club in Oakland.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Oakland Roster Breakdown - Who's Staying? Who's Going?

I feel at this point in the season we can tell who is playing hard for a spot on the team next year and who really doesn't care anymore.  Let's take a look at the roster breakdown by free agents, re-signings, and trades/cuts.  Most of the names below will be the most notable guys...not the Special Teams guys you don't really hear about as those guys come and go without people batting an eyelash or even knowing.


Free Agents - Keepers

DT Desmond Bryant - I've like him over the years when he rotated in & out at DT.  Now he seems to have produced better at times than Seymour and Kelly at 1/4 the price.  I feel Oakland should bring back Bryant if he is a good price.
Why?:  Oakland can't get rid of everyone on the d-line and Bryant is still young enough and talented enough to start and rotate with a couple other DTs.

OLB Philip WheelerWheeler appears to be one of the best low-key signings from this offseason and has been a bright spot on the severely talent-lacking Raiders defense.
Why?:  Wheeler is one of the few names you hear and see making plays throughout each game.  If The Raiders can give him some help in front of him he can be a real play maker on defense.

TE Brandon Myers - Myers surprised a lot this year with his hands and ability to make plays in the West Coast Offense.  Most didn't think he'd be able to carry the load and that Ausberry would see more action in passing downs.  Myers should be re-signed but only if he doesn't try to collect big time on his good season.
Why?: Well, why not?  We need a TE that has proven to be reliable in passing situations.

SS Mike Mitchell - I know I'm going to catch the most heat for this one, but Mike Mitchell should be back at a cheaper price and offers a good special teams guy and a decent backup at both safety positions.
Why?: Say what you want about Mitchell I like the heart he plays with on the field.

CB Phillip Adams
- Although Adams started off a little slow and got benched from playing CB early on he has been one of the few CBs on the team to make some plays down the stretch.  Adams probably won't be doing too much punt returning next year if he stays as I'd expect to sign or draft a guy who can handle those duties.
Why?:  Adams has the advantage of being on a team that has virtually no one at the CB position.  The Raiders can use someone who can make some plays and maybe start if desperate or someone goes down with an injury.

CB Joselio Hanson - Hanson can be a very useful slot CB as he's shown with his short time with the Raiders.  I also like his willingness to go up and hit the HB and WR.  I appreciate a decent tackling CB who isn't afraid to hit.
Why?: Like Adams, CB is so weak Oakland need to keep a few decent back-up and slot Corners that may be able to even start.


Free Agents - Goners

DE Matt Shaughnessy - Keep Mike Mitchell but cut Matt Shaughnessy?  I know people probably think I'm crazy.  I'm sure people will say he was still recovering from the injury from the year before and has potential.
Why?: I'm tired of making excuses for the Raiders lack of pass rush, lack of run defense and if you aren't part of the solution...well, you're part of the problem.

OT Khalif Barnes - I don't think anyone will really argue here.  Barnes needs to go and needs to be replaced by someone who can block.
Why?:  Penalties, getting beat off the edge, and just not performing at a level that's acceptable for a RT.

DE Andre Carter - Carter was brought in to help the sad pass rush of the Raiders, but with only recording 1 sack so far Carter hasn't really shown he's fully recovered from his injury.
Why?:  Very strong d-line draft class.

CBs Ron Bartell & Shawntae Spencer
 - I was actually pretty high on the Bartell signing at the start of the year, but Bartell has shown a lack of confidence as well as an inability to get back into the swing of things. After both went down with another injury early on in the season neither has added much to their secondary.  Obviously, it's a position of need for the Raiders, but I don't want to wait another year to find out if Bartell or Spencer can regain their form and stay healthy.
Why?:  Give the spot to young guys or different veterans next season.

P Shane Lechler
- Possibly the best Punter of all time who has had a phenomenal Raiders career.  Lechler just made too much money ($3.8M in 2012) here, time to move on and get younger.
Why?:  The King shall now reign.

FS Matt Giordano, QB Matt Leinart & FB Owen Schmitt - Neither of them really offer the team much.  Giordano is has regressed from his 2011 performance and is a reminder of 2 years of horrible defense.
Why?: Change is good sometimes.

OG Cooper Carlisle - Has had his ups and downs here as a Raider, but had a decent year this year.  I'd prefer to see a younger guy take his spot though.
Why?: Time to move on to someone new.  (Bergstrom?)

RB Mike Goodson - Not sure on this one...kind of on the fence about Goodson as I think he has some big play potential in the ZBS is we stick with it for next year.  He seems to have some injury concerns though so...
Why?:  Mind as well look for some late 7th round HB or UDFA to replace him at less money.



DT Richard Seymour - Still an APB out on Seymour as I write this.  The first two years here he provided some good veteran leadership while getting good penetration into the backfield a ton.  Now he spends more time practicing than on the field during game days.  (He never practices by the way)
Why/Cost?: Just time for a change upfront on the defensive side of the ball.  Seymour isn't ever playing anyway so why pay him? If we cut him before day 1 of the 2013 season the cap hit is only $2.24M. (Credit TheBlackness for Cap numbers)

DE Dave Tollefson - I know he offers depth on the d-line and isn't too expensive, but what good is depth if it doesn't serve a use?  Tollefson is consistent with his play I give him that much, the problem is he is consistent at getting blown up by the O-line and not being able to hold the edge.
Why?/cost:  I'd rather watch a rookie or UFDA get time here learning on the job missing assignments than a "veteran" who makes the same mistakes with less ability and talent. His cap hit would be 725K.



Obviously the trade market highly depends on another teams needs but these are trade I feel should be made if possible.  If The Raiders can't trade them then we should try to cut them.  If they can't be cut due to a high cap hit then we may just be stuck with them riding the bench or seeing limited action.


ILB Rolando McClain - Public Enemy #1.  McClain was last seen jogging around the field trying his best not to make a play.  McClain is a cancer that needs to be dealt with.  Hopefully someone feels he still has some talent and values him for a 7th rounder on a chance he comes around.  Probably a team that runs a strict 3-4 defense.

FS/CB Michael Huff - Hopefully his Al Davis Scholarship runs out this season and we can unload him for a 5th-7th round pick. His lack of play-making and poor tackling isn't a good recipe for a NFL safety. Calling Jerry Jones...?

DT Tommy Kelly - I liked Kelly for years and thought he was actually undervalued for a bit.  Now it's just time to move on from the past and head into the future though.  I doubt Oakland can get rid of Kelly and may be forced to keep him and use him in a rotation.  Maybe The Raiders can just snag a late rounder for him or even a future 6th-7th rounder.  This will also will help clear some cap space

WR Darrius Heyward-Bey - I love his attitude, his work ethic and his passion.  DHB has flashes his ability to make plays from time to time but never has fully matured into a #1 pick type receiver.  His contract is too big for his production.  If DHB is to stay here he needs to seriously re-structure his contract or be traded in my opinion.  DHB could snag a 4th-5th rounder if traded to the right team like the Dolphins.

RB Darren McFadden - This one hurts to put up here because McFadden is one of my favorite Raiders to watch when he is healthy.  The problem is, he is rarely healthy.  Mcfadden just isn't worth holding onto eating up around $7M.  Hopefully some team will think they can fix his injury problems and offer up a 4th-6th rounder for him.


Closing Thoughts:

If Oakland can move half the guys on the list above we can grab a few late round draft picks to fill in some depth at HB/CB/DL/OLB to replace what we lost.  Other needs will be filled based on the money The Raiders have to spend in free agency.  It's tough to know how much money players will save Oakland or the total amount of cap space we'll have until more officials numbers come out.  Look for Reggie to pick up a few cheap options on the free agent market much like last season.  Some will make an impact (Wheeler) and some may not (Bartell/Spencer).


Thanks for reading and look forward to hearing your feedback!