Friday, November 29, 2013

11.28.13 Mock Draft: RaiderAg

After the loss to Dallas...the Raiders sit 4-8, with tough sledding ahead to end the season, including @ NY Jets, vs. Chiefs, @ San Diego and vs. Broncos.  Oakland could very well go 4-12, securing them a spot in the Top 6 of the 2014 NFL Draft (most likely).  It will put them in an interesting position for the Draft.  The two top prospects appear to be Bridgewater and Clowney, and barring some interview meltdown from Clowney...they will both likely go 1, 2 either one way or the other.  After the top 2 clear, it gets interesting as different teams have different needs and draft philosophies.  Barr, Matthews, Mariota, Evans, Lewan, Watkins...even Khalil Mack all are good prospects and the case could be made for them going to a variety of teams in the top quarter of the 1st Round.

So, there lies the interesting scenario for the Raiders, who have needs and depth concerns at most positions and could use a trade down...YET, they lack star power and need to replace the face of the franchise as McFadden will no doubt be gone after this season.  What will the Raiders do?

Knowing Reggie McKenzie, he'll try to trade down unless a premium pass rush prospect like Barr, or possibly Mack, is available.  With Veldheer back on the mend and Watson/Pashos and possibly Barnes on the right side, they have no immediate need at tackle, assuming all's well come opening day of 2014.  They have needs at OG, but drafting a David Yankey that early might be a stretch.  WR/TE would be the biggest offensive need that early in the draft obviously.  Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans are the two "elite" prospects at this point in the draft, but Reggie doesn't like underclassmen who declare early.  TEs Amaro and Ebron are also underclassmen.  McKenzie typically goes for players entering the draft following their 4th or 5th years in college.  A wide receiver like Jordan Matthews comes to mind, or even a RJr. like Rutgers' Brandon Coleman...but again, too soon in the Draft for such names.

If the elite prospects outside are gone by the time Oakland inside presence like Ra'Shede Hageman would be intriguing.  Notre Dame's Louis Nix III offers a strong, disruptive anchor inside to backup or supplant Pat Sims.

Secondary?  Mike Jenkins, Tracy Porter, now out-for-the-season 1st Round CB D.J. Hayden, Phillip Adams, Chimdi Chekwa, a currently injured Tyvon Branch, Brandian Ross, an aging Charles Woodson, Usama Young...Taiwan Jones?  A mix of old and young, talented and career backup...but all relatively versatile, could the Raiders double dip in back to back drafts with a CB prospect...say Oregon's Ekpre-Olomu, TCU's Verrett or possibly Michigan State's Dennard?

Consolation pass rushers like Trent Murphy or even Utah's Trevor Reilly...and watch out for dark horses like Kony Ealy and Michael Sam, both from Mizzou...all in the mix as Oakland needs to find a way to get to the quarterback without blitzing in 2014.

It's a tough call...and it doesn't even cover the quarterback situation.  Derek Carr, Hundley, Boyd...they'll all be sitting there to be taken ala E.J. Manuel, question is will the Raider coaching staff be taken by any of them to warrant a 1st Round pick?  Pryor had his chance and got dethroned by an UDFA in Matt McGloin, it's anybody's game at quarterback for Oakland in 2014.

Put all the speculation aside, time to mock.

This scenario calls for Oakland choosing 6th Overall (projection).  Rankings and draft slots are estimated from CBS Sports...and those estimates are within reason based on my own judgment.  This mock also assumes Allen, Olson and Tarver return for another year...THE year to prove themselves as a coaching staff: Link

Perhaps it's wishful thinking, but with the depth of this draft, I'll go out on a limb and say Reggie finds a trade partner...dropping Oakland into the 7-15 draft pick range.  For this scenario, Oakland only gains a 2nd round pick in the 2014 Draft.

1st Round:  OG David Yankey - Stanford
Depth and improvement at OG are needed for the Raiders.  An injured for the year Bergstrom, a banged up Brisiel and a sub-par duo of Nix and Gurode have basically been the starting Raider Guards this season.  Quite possibly, the worst in the NFL.  Yankey is strong, aggressive, smart and technically sound...Sparano would be beside himself to see this upgrade become part of the roster.

2nd Round:  OLB Trevor Reilly - Utah
DC Jason Tarver requires versatility and aggressiveness.  Reilly has both of these in spades.  In the mold of Stanford's Trent Murphy, Reilly has been a consistent force for the Utes over the past two seasons.  He can put his hand in the ground, blitz, drop in coverage, he does it all, and his frame is a tremendous building block.

2nd Round:  CB Kyle Fuller - Virginia Tech
A fearless, hard nosed cornerback.  Adams and Ross need to be weeded off this roster, if not, challenged for their paychecks.  Also, Porter and Jenkins aren't getting any today's NFL with the pass controlling the game, cover men who aren't afraid to tackle are a necessity.

3rd Round:  WR Devin Street - Pitt
Tall, sure handed receiver who has been a primarly outlet for Savage and the Pitt offense over the past 3 seasons.  Recently sidelined with an ankle injury, but he has a lot of ability and the Raiders need playmakers.

4th Round:  CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste - Nebraska
I'd be surprised if Pete Carroll doesn't draft Jean-Baptiste by the 4th Round, but let's say he doesn't.  Jean-Baptiste provides a tall, strong bodied frame who is physical in man-to-man coverage...sometimes too physical.  He has potential to spread his athleticism all over the field in Tarver's scheme, who need tall, talented CBs to cover the big targets in the AFC West.

6th Round:  OT Billy Turner - North Dakota State
A big reason why the Bison continue their thunderous reign of the FCS.  Turner is a violent, physical beast at left tackle who excels in space.  Should the Pashos/Barnes/Watson committee at right tackle falter, then bringing in Turner to compete or take the backup/starting role could prove valuable down the stretch of 2014.

7th Round:  OG Spencer Long - Nebraska
Value pick.  Long may heal from his knee injury and show enough to get drafted earlier, but we'll say he's still available here.  The Raiders need talented linemen to keep pounding the rock.  Long will take a little time, but he could payoff down the road.

7th Round (from Arizona, Carson Palmer trade):  DT Beau Allen - Wisconsin
The big man inside...primed to do all the dirty work he has to to free up the linebackers to make plays.  Should be a good backup in 3-4 sets...nobody behind Pat Sims can really do what Pat Sims does, but Allen can certainly eat up blockers, but what is good about him is that he's not just a leaner like McCullers, he uses his eyes and hands effectively.  Love his effort.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Mock Draft 11.28.13: DustInTheWind

1st Round:  DE Trent Murphy -- Stanford 
Only thing I want to say about him is this quote from an SI article: "I put my hand [on] the ground, get my hips up in the air and it's like I'm going hunting," said the fifth-year senior. "I'm going after something.  There's an end point I'm trying to get to, and there's someone trying to stop me. It's man versus man.  It's my favorite thing to do." 

2nd Round:  RB Andre Williams -- Boston College
Williams is putting up numbers we haven't seen the likes of since Barry Sanders was running wild for Oklahoma State.  Not saying he will ever be the player Sanders is or was, just that the numbers he is putting up as RB in this day and age of college ball is VERY impressive.  I know a lot of Raider fans are fine moving forward with just Jennings, but I would feel much more comfortable with the addition of someone like Williams to our mix of guys.  Between Williams, Jennings, and the healing Latavius Murray we would have a solid group of guys that could pound the rock like few teams are capable of.  Also has the feel of a RM guy - seems humble, level headed and mature off the field.  Writing a book, reads poetry and studies philosophy in his spare time. 

3rd Round:  OG Anthony Steen -- Alabama 
Heard some concern about shorter arms than some would like.  Hopefully, this causes him to drop for Oakland as he's a beast and has been helping open running lanes for Yeldon all year long. 

4th Round:  FS Terrence Brooks -- Florida State
Reminds me of my favorite safety ever - Sean Taylor - and if he's even half the player that he was, the Raiders will be getting their eventual replacement for Woodson. 

6th Round:  WR Eric Ward -- Texas Tech 
I wanted to select a WR in the Top 100 picks but it didn't work out and I expect to see Streater continue to become the Oakland bonafide starter.  I'm also hanging onto a thread of hope that Criner will figure it out and contribute.  Until then Oakland needs a quality slot receiver to work with Streater, Rivera, and the #2 (free agent or Denarius Moore?). 

7th Round:  OG John Urschel -- Penn State 
Seems like a RM pick.  Solid contributor on the field and seems like a great person off.  Would fill much needed depth for interior line.  Obtained his BS in Mathematics in 3 years with a 4.0 GPA and finished his Master's Degree in Mathematics all before the Draft.

7th Round (AZ trade):  CB Qua Cox -- Jackson State 
Touted as a great man-to-man cover guy and his physical game shows up on film.  With some unknowns as far as who might be re-signed from our current guys it wouldn't hurt to add a guy like Cox that has a chance of developing into a potential starter.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Gobble Gobble...

...make Romo hobble.

Well it's Turkey week, and the Raiders have the opportunity, as the World's Team, to play against the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day.  Let's Go Oakland!

Get that All-Iron Award ready for a Raider.

Here's the OC/DC press conference from Olson and Tarver.  Coach Allen also speaks.

Thank you RaiderCentral.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Post-Tennessee Media

RaiderCentral...always the best with local clips.  Thanks again.

Side notes on the game:

The offensive line is doing a better job at pass pro as the season goes on.  To be expected with extended playing time, hopefully it will be even better down the stretch with Veldheer set to return in a couple of weeks.  

Running the ball was less effective at home vs. Tennessee, who have a pretty solid defensive unit, two solid corners and some good run defenders up the middle in Brown, Pollard, Ayers and Casey.  Olson used some misdirection to help spring Jennings off the edge which was good to see as he was getting bottled up inside for most of the game.

McGloin had a decent second start but threw a really bad INT.  Mercifully, the defense bailed him out only giving up a field goal.

Defensively, while it's hard to swallow that last drive, they played pretty well.  Personally thought Porter had an off game, and the manufactured pass rush was getting picked up relatively well by the Tennessee OL (especially on the final drive)...and that Titan OL is pretty good, they have some solid veterans and rookies in that group.  This gives Reggie even more evidence that a true pass rusher is needed opposite Lamarr Houston.

Good to see Miles Burris back in action, thought he was flying around with some urgency, but he definitely needs more snaps in the back third of this season to make some serious impact.

Tyvon Branch is sorely missed, Ross and Adams are starting to get exposed, especially on that Hunter debacle.

Not having Moore and Watson out there some extent losing D.J. Hayden for the year hurts too.  Didn't like seeing Chekwa in single coverage on a 4th quarter drive that eventually won the game for Tennessee...lack of depth evident, injury bug always evident.

Ford with another fumble, he might as well book an open ended ticket out of Oakland after the season, along with Darren McFadden.

Janikowski missing two FGs was a disappointment.  Not sure what was off, but it hurt, it hurt a lot.

Monday, November 18, 2013

R.I.P. Thomas Howard

Sincere condolences and prayers to the friends and family of Zeng Long Liu.  Drive the speed limit, wear your seat defensively, and if you've been drinking, find another way home.

1983 - 2013

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Raiders 2014 Draft Notes

Well, Raiders are past the halfway point for the 2013 season...what have we learned?

1.  Terrelle Pryor is a wild card.  A rollercoaster of decision making, with little to no consistency except for the vs. San Diego game.  Right now, Pryor is riding a big time low with the loss @ New York Giants.  UCLA's Brett Hundley and Clemson's Tajh Boyd are early round guys who could be in the conversation at the right pick no. selection.  There are a lot of other decent trigger men who, under reasonable pocket protection, could come in and throw it better than Terrelle Pryor...probably throw fewer picks as well.

2.  Jared Veldheer and to some extent, Tony Bergstrom are sorely missed.  Khalif Barnes at LT and Lucas Nix at LG might be the worst left side duo in the NFL.  It certainly isn't helping Pryor develop one bit...leaving him scrambling and trying to do too much.  A good bet will be that Tony Sporano and Dennis Allen don't want Nix, Barnes and/or Brisiel starting in 2014...see Mississippi State's Gabe Jackson, Notre Dame's Zack Martin and Baylor's Cyril Richardson.

3.  Special Team Coach Bobby April and 2nd Year Defensive Coordinator Jason Tarver are outdoing themselves.  Several blocked punts and field goal attempts...and with some competent return men (if Ford will ever get his head out of his rear), April could be ST Coach of the Year soon.  Tarver 3:16.  The defense is completely overachieving, almost to the extent that they're putting the Raiders in a position to win games with only one...ONE...competent drive a game.  Honestly, if the offense were marginally more consistent this year, the Raiders could very well have won 5 or 6 games.

4.  Weapons needed.  While Denarius Moore and Rod Streater are solid receivers, just so long as they're not dropping every other ball thrown their way, they are by no means, go-to guys.  The Raiders need a true downfield weapon for Pryor, or whatever QB, is throwing to them in 2014.  Lots of talk about Clemson's Sammy Watkins or Texas A&M's Mike Evans to Oakland...and for good reason.  Should Veldheer and Watson come back healthy, look for Oakland to go playmaker on offense.

5.  The Manufactured Pass Rush can only go so far.  The Raiders need a compliment to Lamarr Houston off the other edge.  Be it through an OLB like Anthony Barr or Khalil Mack, or a straight up Defensive End like Clowney...the four-man pass rush needs to step into the mix at some point in the near future.

6.  More help needed at Tight End.  Rivera, Kasa and Mastrud.  Not going to get you very far in the long run.  Ausberry is all but gone in 2014 already.  Large targets like Washington's Austin Seferian-Jenkins, UNC's Eric Ebron or even the strong blocking C.J. Fiedorowicz from Iowa would all be large, athletic, young additions to a sputtering TE Corps.

7...MORE GAMES TO GO.  Let's see if the Raiders can squeak out a better season than 2012...

Let Defense Ring.

@ NY Giants: Post Game Reactions

Thanks to RaiderCentral on YouTube

Friday, November 1, 2013

Olson & Tarver: Halloween PC

Grades have to be pretty positive thus far for the two coordinators.  Olson essentially went into the season with a partially shattered offensive line and has found ways to move the ball.  Tarver has obviously been lights out, putting together a scheme showcasing and utilizing the versatility and speed of the Oakland defense.

Chip Kelly better come prepared with something special or it could be a very, very long day for Foles.

Thanks to RaiderCentral on YouTube: